Even if you believe your toilet is cleaner than clean, your bathroom is in the business of collecting bacteria, and lots of it. To protect your loved ones and keep family members safe, you probably clean the toilet often. But did you know there are other, lesser-known breeding grounds for bacteria that also warrant a spot on your weekly chores list?
Perhaps the reason that most of these items made our list has less to do with the actual bacteria present, and more to do with how often — or not at all — we’re cleaning them. According to The Washington Post, “We use so much Lysol and the like on toilet seats that microbes don’t have an opportunity to accumulate there; a spoonful of soil has more bacteria and far greater diversity.”
So, it’s time to forget everything you thought you knew about deep cleaning. These are the things you need to add to your cleaning schedule immediately.
1. A man’s beard
Dirtier than a toilet seat? Possibly. | iStock.com
Love the lumberjack look? This may change your mind. Could facial hair really be as dirty as a toilet? You bet. One study found that some beards contained rather disconcerting amounts of bacteria. So disconcerting, in fact, that researcher John Golobic said that if similar samples were found in a city’s water system, it’d have to be shut down for disinfecting. Looks like it may be time to leave that burly beard behind and convert to the cleanly-shaven look.
Next: You’d never expect this one to make the list.
2. Your “clean” laundry
It’s not as clean as you think. | iStock.com
That fresh load of laundry you just pulled out of the washing machine? Yeah, it’s not as clean as you think. According to an infographic by Plumbworld Blog, “Every time you put a load of underwear into the washing machine, you could be transferring 100 million E. coli bacteria. Front loading machines in particular provide an ideal environment for bacteria as water tends to sit at the bottom.” Naturally, these germs can then cling onto future loads. For this reason, cleaning your washing machine is absolutely crucial.
Next: Contact with raw meat earns this item a spot on the list.
3. Cutting board
Cutting boards require specific cleaning. | iStock.com
We all know cutting boards often bear the brunt of some of the grossest kitchen tasks around, so it’s no wonder they made the list. All you need to do is consider every piece of raw meat that’s made contact with a cutting board, and you’ll be rethinking the way you wash it in no time.
“In most cases, it’s safer to make a salad on a toilet seat than it is to make one on a cutting board,” Dr. Charles Gerba (a.k.a. Dr. Germ) told Food & Wine. “There’s 200 times more fecal bacteria from raw meat on the average cutting board in a home than a toilet seat.” Now that you know it needs cleaning with each use, you need to know there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. Dr. Germ suggests dedicating one board to vegetables and one to meat, so as to reduce the risk of cross-contamination. Additionally, you can use lemon to disinfect cutting boards.
Next: You probably have at least one of these in your wardrobe.
4. Your purse
You’ll think twice before placing your purse somewhere. | iStock.com/MoustacheGirl
Think about all the places your purse has ever been perched. Now, consider how often you actually wash that purse. If you’re like most people, the answer is probably never. According to Plumbworld Blog, your handbag could be up to ten times dirtier than a toilet seat.
Furthermore, Dr. Gerba told Good Housekeeping, “A quarter of purses have E-coli on them. And we found out people put them right next to where they’re about to make a sandwich!” Given that, it’s time to rethink your everyday purse placement.
Next: There’s no question this item goes everywhere with you.
5. Cell phone
Cell phones go absolutely everywhere. | iStock.com/Antonio_Diaz
This one may not come as too much of a surprise, but we need to mention it. Most people are connected to their smartphone every minute of the day, which can amount to germs galore. (Just think about whether you’ve ever taken your phone to the porcelain throne.)
Maybe you’d rethink cleaning your cell phone if you knew just how much bacteria it attracts. In fact, your smartphone could contain 10 times more bacteria than your toilet seat. To remedy the situation, Good Housekeeping recommends using an alcohol wipe every few days.
Next: Ditch this service and stick to the stairs.
6. Elevator buttons
You’re better off taking the stairs. | iStock.com
After hearing these stats, you’ll have one more reason to take the stairs, and leave the elevator behind. Plumbworld Blog reported that elevator buttons could be teeming with 40 times more bacteria than the toilet seat. Yikes. If you do have to take the elevator, it wouldn’t kill you to protect your hands with an alcohol wipe next time you push those buttons.
Next: This type of flooring is a magnet for mites.
Carpets are ground zero for dust mites. | Scyther5/Getty Images
Would you believe that well-loved carpet of yours may be home to 700 times the bacteria your toilet seat contains? Scary, but true. And quite frankly, it’s not all that surprising. Carpets often see the soles of shoes, infinite stray hairs from every member of the family, and crumbs carried from the kitchen to the family room. And given all the micro spaces tucked underneath the inner workings of the woven material, carpets offer the ideal environment for dust mites, which is reason enough to invest in a quality vacuum.
Next: This device comes into contact with germs all day long.
Keyboards need cleaning, too. | iStock.com/BernardaSv
Did you know your keyboard can contain up to five times the amount of germs as your toilet seat? Gross, but true. Those little spaces between the keys are nothing short of black holes just waiting to suck up — and retain — tons of bacteria. If you’re currently in need of a quick break, just Google it, and you’ll see just how filthy your keyboard really is.
Next: Your entire work space deserves to be wiped clean, too.
Just because your desk is tidy, doesn’t mean it’s clean. | iStock.com/KatarzynaBialasiewicz
Even if your workstation is the epitome of organization, that doesn’t mean you’re totally off the hook here. Not only does your desk play host to materials that have likely touched other people’s hands as well as your own, but it likely serves as a lunch table, too.
Take all of this into account, and you’re looking at a desk that’s 100 times dirtier than a toilet seat. That’s right, just think about every single thing that’s ever laid claim to your work space; all signs point to a much needed cleaning session.
Next: This tidbit will definitely gross you out.
Ice isn’t always as clean as you’d like it to be. | iStock.com/Nednapa
After hearing this, you may never look at ice from a soda dispenser the same. And based on what Daily Mail had to say, you may avoid it altogether. Unfortunately, some fast food ice contains more bacteria than toilet water does. Yikes. If we may, we’d recommend being very, very careful the next time you order a fountain drink.
Next: Beware this item next time you go out to eat.
11. Restaurant menus
Use caution the next time you’re looking at a menu. | iStock.com
Restaurant menus aren’t wiped down like tables and chairs are, which is why so many are teeming with bacteria — up to 100 times more than a toilet seat. Unless you’re at a spot that uses and recycles paper menus often, steer clear of scrolling your fingers down the list of options.
Next: It doesn’t matter how clean you think your wallet is.
Dollars are dirty, dirty, dirty. | iStock.com
Cash changes hands often, which means that twenty you’re holding may be more disgusting than you think. In fact, NPR called your wallet a “portable petri dish.” Furthermore, the site reported, “Each dollar bill carries about 3,000 types of bacteria on its surface, scientists have found.” Thank goodness for Venmo, right?
Next: By now, this probably shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, either.
13. ATM buttons
You might want to use a wet wipe the next time you’re at an ATM. | iStock.com/GuruXOOX
If you’re still not convinced that money is incredibly dirty, perhaps this point will steer you away from carrying cash when it’s not absolutely necessary. Just going to the ATM is enough to send any germaphobe over the edge (each button contains 1,200 germs). Couple that with the bacteria-ridden bills you’re about to come into contact with, and you can say sayonara to sanitation.
Next: It’s lights-out on trying to keep these babies germ-free.
14. Light switch
These switches see a ton of different fingers. | iStock.com/Monkeybusinessimages
Light switches aren’t off limits to any member of your family, which means they’re ground zero for a bevvy of bacteria. Anyone who flips the lights on or off is transferring the germs their hands have already attracted over the course of the day. So, it turns out that light switches in your home can have 200 bacteria per square inch.
Next: Ever think about how dirty the inside of your car is?
15. Steering wheel
Your steering wheel sees a lot of bacteria. | iStock.com/Dolgachov
Your car’s steering wheel can have five times more bacteria than your toilet, which is all the reason to start cleaning it regularly. Combine all the germs transferred from your hands with those you cough or sneeze out while steering, and you’re looking at one filthy wheel.
Next: Just be sure to wipe these down before you use them.
16. Grocery cart
A shopping cart should be wiped down before you lay your hands on it. | iStock.com/Snyferok
It’s not uncommon for stores to stock cleaning wipes by the shopping carts. If your store does this, take advantage of their kindness and grab one as soon as you walk in. Turns out, dousing your cart could save you some serious sanity. Grocery cart handles come into contact with other shoppers’ germ-ridden hands and raw meat, and they may have been left outside overnight.
Next: More coming your way in the way of grocery shopping.
17. Reusable grocery bags
Reusable shopping bags collect a ton of filth. | iStock.com
Give yourself a pat on the back if you’ve joined the reusable grocery bag revolution. Just make sure you’ve washed your hands after having touched the bag. According to Dr. Gerba, “There should be warnings that come with these. 50% of people never wash them, and they have more bacteria in them than your underwear — and your car is like the incubator.” Ew. Just, ew.
Read more: Cleaning Tricks Your Grandma Used That Still Work Today
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