Skip to content
Font Size

6 Surprisingly Dirty Places in Your Home

By Mary Anne Dunkin
WebMD Feature

If you dropped a piece of fruit in your kitchen sink while rinsing it, would you think twice about popping it in your mouth? What if you dropped it in the toilet?

Germs like cold viruses and bacteria can live in some unexpected spots. Here are six surprisingly dirty places in your home -- like your kitchen sink -- and what you can do to protect yourself.

Recommended Related to Women

"I Hate Asking for Help"

By Cynthia HansonIt's the four-letter word no woman likes to utter. How to ask for what you need. It wasn’t until Kathleen Hornstein realized that she couldn’t move her legs that she finally broke down and asked for help. A 34-year-old Pilates instructor and mom of two, Hornstein was pregnant with twins, and despite being overextended and overtired, she had barely slowed down and prided herself on being able to handle anything that came her way. Then, during her second trimester, as she sat...

Read the "I Hate Asking for Help" article > >

Dirty Places: The Kitchen Sink

Although the mere thought of retrieving anything from your toilet bowl may be enough to make you sick, your toilet may be cleaner than your kitchen sink, says Eileen Abruzzo, director of infection control at Long Island College Hospital of Brooklyn, New York. Food particles from plates left to soak or rinsed from dishes on their way to the dishwasher can serve as a breeding ground for illness-causing bacteria, including E. coli and salmonella. They can get on your hands or spread to foods.

Although most people take steps to disinfect their toilet bowls, few give their kitchen sink the same consideration, Abruzzo tells WebMD. “They rinse their sinks with water and assume they are clean -- but they’re not.”

Quick fix to banish bacteria:

To sanitize your sink and prevent the spread of bacteria, Abruzzo recommends washing it with a solution of bleach and water once a day and then letting the solution run down the drain. Remember to remove the drain plug and clean it, too, she says. Then wash your hands.

Dirty Places: Your Toothbrush

You put it in your mouth twice a day, but do you ever think of all the germs lurking on it? “You rinse it off after using it and put it away damp,” says Abruzzo. “Bacteria like the moist area and grow on it.”

If the germs from your own mouth weren’t enough to contaminate your toothbrush, the germs from your toilet certainly are. Research in the 1970s by Charles P. Gerba, PhD, of the University of Arizona Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science, found that flushing the toilet sends a spray of bacteria- and virus-contaminated water droplets into air. These germs, he found, can float around in the bathroom for at least two hours after each flush before landing on surfaces -- including your toothbrush.

Quick fix to banish bacteria:

 Abruzzo recommends placing your toothbrush where it can air out and dry between uses -- but not too close to the toilet. Also, replace your toothbrush often, particularly after you’ve been sick, and close your toilet lid before flushing.

Next Article:

How do you stay warm at home during the winter months?