Spring cleaning requires attention to smallest details

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Is it time for an old-fashioned spring cleaning?

Have you noticed you seem to come down with a cold or flu a little more often than you should?

Whether you’re a germophobe or a little more casual with your relationship with household microbes, NSF International has some news that might interest you.

Quick, what’s the germiest place in your home?

You’re probably thinking “toilet seat,” but guess what? It doesn’t even make it into the top 10, according to the study.

Scientists swabbed 30 surfaces in 22 homes, 660 tests in all, searching for yeast, mold, salmonella and E. coli as well as other coliform bacteria, and staph germs like those that can cause antibiotic-resistant MRSA infections.

Eighteen percent of cutting boards harbored coliform bacteria, molds and yeasts. Throw them in the dishwasher or scrub them with hot soapy water after every use. They’re only No. 10 on the list, however.

Handles — on faucets or stoves — deserve regular disinfection since they collect things like coliform bacteria, molds, yeast and staph, but not surprisingly, pet toys rank No. 7 on the nasty list.

Twenty-three percent of them were found to harbor potentially dangerous staph bacteria, the highest of any item tested, as well as the other bacteria. Scrub them with soapy water and a mild bleach, and throw soft toys in the washer. Plus, think twice before letting your dog lick your face.

Pet bowls ranked fourth dirtiest on the list, with 45 percent of them showing mold and yeast, 18 percent with coliform bacteria. Throw them in the dishwasher or hand wash using about a cap of bleach in a gallon of water.

But don’t be too hard on Fido; your coffee maker is the fifth filthiest thing in the kitchen. That water reservoir is an ideal medium for growing bacteria, and you should brew a pot of vinegar once in a while or otherwise follow cleaning instruction.

Toothbrush holders and kitchen sinks rank in the top three, but No. 1 is something we can overlook — dish sponges or rags.

Seventy-seven percent of them harbored coliform bacteria, and another 86 percent had yeast and mold, plus 18 percent of them had staph bacteria.

You can microwave wet sponges once a day for two minutes, and replace them at least once every two weeks. Toss a rag in a hot washing cycle every day or two.

Warm weather and longer days can put us all in the mood to give our homes a fresh start. A little extra effort will help our families enjoy spring weather in good health.­­

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