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Top Spots for Bacteria at Home

More Bacteria in the Bathtub Than in the Garbage Bin, Study Shows

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on June 25, 2007
From the WebMD Archives

June 25, 2007 -- Your home may be germier than you think, new researchshows.

Out of 32 places in the home, the top spots for bacteria are the toiletbowl, kitchen drain, kitchen sponge or counter-wiping cloth, bathtub, andkitchen sink., according to a new study.

But only 3% of Americans think they're more likely to pick up germs fromtheir bathtub than from their garbage bins, a new survey shows.

The telephone survey included more than 10,000 people worldwide, includingabout 1,000 people in the U.S.

In the survey, few U.S. participants -- 5% -- answered "in the home" whenthey were asked where they thought children are most likely to catchinfection.

While infections can happen anywhere, the home has plenty of places werebacteria roost, according to the report.

Top Spots for Bacteria

The study and survey come from the Hygiene Council -- which is funded byReckitt Benckiser, the company that makes Lysol.

Researchers visited 35 U.S. homes, swabbing for bacteria in 32 locations ineach home.

Here's how those spots ranked, in terms of the average number of bacteriaper square inch. Spots with the same average number of bacteria have the samerank.

  1. Toilet bowl: 3.2 million bacteria/square inch
  2. Kitchen drain: 567,845 bacteria/square inch
  3. Sponge or counter-wiping cloth: 134,630 bacteria/square inch
  4. Bathtub, near drain: 119,468 bacteria/square inch
  5. Kitchen sink, near drain: 17,964 bacteria/square inch
  6. Kitchen faucet handle: 13,227 bacteria/square inch
  7. Bathroom faucet handle: 6,267 bacteria/square inch
  8. Bathroom sink, near drain: 2,733 bacteria/square inch
  9. Pet food dish, inside rim: 2,110 bacteria/square inch
  10. Kitchen floor, in front of sink: 830 bacteria/square inch
  11. Toilet floor, in front of toilet: 764 bacteria/square inch
  12. Kitchen countertop: 488 bacteria/square inch
  13. Bathroom countertop: 452 bacteria/square inch
  14. Garbage bin: 411 bacteria/square inch
  15. Dish towel: 408 bacteria/square inch
  16. Toy: 345 bacteria/square inch
  17. Kitchen tabletop: 344 bacteria/square inch
  18. Home office phone or refrigerator door: 319 bacteria/square inch
  19. Toilet seat: 295 bacteria/square inch
  20. Bathroom light switch: 217 bacteria/square inch
  21. Microwave buttons: 214 bacteria/square inch
  22. Kitchen chopping board: 194 bacteria/square inch
  23. Child-training potty: 191 bacteria/square inch
  24. Infant changing mat and infant high chair: 190 bacteria/square inch
  25. Kitchen phone: 133 bacteria/square inch
  26. Bathroom door's inside handle: 121 bacteria/square inch
  27. Toilet's flush handle: 83 bacteria/square inch
  28. TV remote control: 70 bacteria/square inch
  29. Home office computer keyboard: 64 bacteria/square inch
  30. Home office computer mouse: 50 bacteria/square inch

The CDC recommends washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, orusing an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water aren't available.

The FDA recommends mixing 1 teaspoon of chlorine bleach into 1 quart ofwater for a homemade sanitizing solution -- or using a commercial sanitizer --to help keep kitchen surfaces clean.

Show Sources

SOURCES: News release, the Hygiene Council. CDC: "Clean Hands Save Lives!" FDA: "Can Your Kitchen Pass the Food Safety Test?"

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