Despite our best efforts to live a germ-free existence, bacteria continue to lurk in some surprising places.
In an interview with Today, Real Simple editor Sarah Humphreys revealed the germiest places in the home are the everyday things we neglect.
‘‘We don’t think about them and never clean them,’’ she says.
Starting with the kitchen, Humphreys says the coffee maker and the stove knobs are often ignored.
‘‘You may clean the filter but oils from the grounds and mineral deposits from your water will eventually build up over time with bacteria,’’ she says.
Pet owners everywhere, meanwhile, should be rushing home and washing their pet’s bowl. It came in as one of the top-five germiest places.
As we know, bacteria thrives in moist and dank places, making the bathroom a perfect breeding ground.
What does your toothbrush holder look like at the moment? Is it moist and dank?
The bath mat is also a problem area. ‘‘It collects humidity, dirt and hair,’’ says Humphreys.
In the living room, Humphreys says, the obvious germ hubs are the remote control and light switches.
Worst of all is your purse. The outside alone contains thousands of bacteria. On the inside, headphones should be cleaned or replaced regularly. And there is a one-in-six chance your mobile phone has faecal matter on it.
But how long can germs survive?
Early research concluded that common bacteria responsible for colds, ear infections and strep throat didn’t have a long lifespan outside the human body. This is no longer the case.
A new study published in the journal Infection and Immunity found the bacteria streptococcus pneumoniae and streptococcus pyogenes can live on surfaces for weeks and in some cases months.
Senior author Dr Anders Hakansson says: ‘‘This is the first paper to directly investigate that these bacteria can survive well on various surfaces, including hands, and potentially spread between individuals.’’
Although the colonisation of bacteria isn’t the sole cause of infection, Hakansson says ‘‘it’s a necessary first step if an infection is going to become established in a human host’’.
If you consider that our hands are the second-germiest place on your body, the harbouring and spreading of bacteria is all too easy.
The remedy, however, is just as simple. Wash your hands, and the next time you’re doing a quick clean, take a moment to wipe down those neglected germy hot spots.