Little would you know that mould and bacteria are thriving in these places in your home - even on cleaning items that are meant to clean your house. Ew!
1. Your kitchen sponge
Ironically, this “cleaning tool” has about 320 million microbes per gram, according to National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) International. So with every swipe, you're spreading mould and foodborne pathogens.
How to clean it: Microwave it daily for one minute or toss it in the dishwasher for the drying cycle. Either method can eliminate 99.9 per cent of mould, research suggests.
2. Your vegetable drawer
Mushrooms may not be the only fungus in your refrigerator. The combo of moisture and food nurtures the fungi and bacteria that can cause foodborne illnesses, says NSF International microbiologist Dr Robert Donofrio.
How to clean it: Wash the crisper with detergent, then wipe it down with 1 to 2 tablespoons of baking soda in a litre of warm water to strip away biofilm, a slime of mould and germs.
3. Your coffee maker
Do you like your coffee with milk… or mildew? Half the coffeepot tanks swabbed in that NSF International study tested positive for allergy-inducing mould and yeast.
How to clean it: Once a month, fill the reservoir with water and add two denture tablets, says Dr Kelly Reynolds, a public health educator at the University of Arizona in the US. The tablets’ peroxide and bleach can break down biofilm.
4. Your shower curtain
A fungus called Aureobasidium pullulans feasts on wet shower surfaces. The strain has been linked to increased asthma severity, notes a study in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
How to clean it: Run your curtain through a warm, gentle cycle with a half cup of bleach, a quarter cup of detergent, and two towels to rub away the grime, Dr Reynolds says. And use your bathroom fan.
5. Your humidifier
It’s a godsend in a dry indoor environment, but a humidifier could send mould airborne and cause lung inflammation if it’s not cleaned regularly, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns.
How to clean it: Every three days, scrub each of its parts with a solution of 3 per cent hydrogen peroxide and warm water. And go with a steam vaporiser. The EPA found that it emits less mould than an ultrasonic or impeller humidifier.
6. Your vacuum cleaner
This sucker’s bag is a launch pad for mould. In a study in Applied Environmental Microbiology, 46 per cent of vacuums tested spewed mould, including lung-infecting Aspergillus, back into the air.
How to clean it: Use a vacuum that has a Hepa filter, which traps 99 per cent of mould particles. Avoid wet-dry vacs; they add moisture to the mix, says Peter Duncanson, a mould remediator.
7. Your toothbrush and toothbrush holder
Those bristles are a breeding ground for the reddish bacteria Serratia marcescens. So every time you brush, you risk sinusitis or a respiratory or bloodstream infection, Dr Reynolds warns.
How to clean it: Once a week, soak your toothbrush for 60 seconds in hydrogen peroxide. Then store and disinfect it in an ultraviolet sanitiser.
By Cindy Kuzma, Men's Health, October 2016
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