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6 Surprisingly Dirty Places in Your Home

Dirty Places: Your Salt and Pepper Shaker

Could one of the dirtiest places in your home be right on the table where you eat?

Unfortunately, yes, according to a 2008 study by researchers at the University of Virginia. In the study, researchers asked 30 adults who were beginning to show signs of a cold, to name 10 places they’d touched in their homes over the previous 18 hours. The researchers then tested those areas for cold viruses. The tests found viruses on 41% of the surfaces tested, and every one of the salt and pepper shakers tested were positive for cold viruses. 

Quick fix to banish bacteria: 

When you wipe the kitchen table after eating, wipe off the salt and pepper shaker too. But your best protection against spreading or picking up germs when you reach for seasonings is to wash your hands -- before and after.

Dirty Places: Your TV Remote Control

It’s dropped on the floor, stuffed between the sofa cushions, coughed on and sneezed at. Everyone in the house handles it.

“Anything people touch a lot has germs on it,” Abruzzo tells WebMD. A University of Virginia study of cold viruses on household surfaces showed the remote control’s surface is among the germiest. Researchers found that half of the remote controls tested were positive for cold viruses.

Quick fix to banish bacteria:

Abruzzo wipes her remote with a bleach or alcohol wipe -- “that is, if I can ever find it or get it out my husband’s hands,” she says. Aside from that, regular hand-washing is the best way to protect yourself against these germs.

Dirty Places: Your Computer Keyboard

If you eat at your computer, sneeze on your keyboard, or sit down to surf the Internet without first washing your hands, your computer keyboard could be a health hazard. In a recent study by a British consumer group, researchers swabbed keyboards for germs and found a host of potentially harmful bacteria, including E. coli and staph. Four of 33 sampled keyboards had enough germs to be considered health hazards. One had levels of germs five times higher than that found on a toilet seat.

Quick fix to banish bacteria:

Wash your hands before and after using your computer. If you must eat at your desk, don't drop crumbs into your keyboard. To clean your keyboard, gently shake out the crumbs or vacuum it. Abruzzo recommends wiping the keys with alcohol or bleach wipes, but “nothing too wet,” she says. “And don’t forget to wipe the mouse.”

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