Cleaning is the one household chore you can never seem to catch up on.
Anytime you tidy one part of the house, another room seems to get even dirtier. To make things worse, you might be overlooking some of the nastiest, germ-covered surfaces in your home.
Public health organization NSF International swabbed 30 surfaces in 22 homes, looking for bacteria, mold, and dangerous germs like E. coli and staph.
What they found may make you change your cleaning routine.
1. Coffee makers
We've already warned you about how mold and germs love to spread inside coffee makers, both old and new. The latest devices can be tough to clean, but if you brew a mixture of vinegar and water it will clean out the machine.
Just remember to run water through the nozzle a few times to clean up afterwards.
2. Toothbrush holders
When you flush the toilet, anything nearby is hit with a plume of bacteria. Add in the germs that travel from your hands, and you can understand why these holders are a breeding ground for germs.
Washing the holders regularly in warm, soapy water is a good idea.
3. Sponges and rags
It's ironic, but when we forget to clean these cleaning supplies, they turn into nasty dumps for germs. You can actually put a wet sponge in the microwave for a few seconds to remove germs, and add kitchen rags to your laundry pile.
But, mainly, remember to replace them more often.
4. Makeup bags
As those horror stories about eyeliner samples should remind you, germs love to breed on makeup. If you carry any around in your purse, where it's exposed to temperature changes, the risk is even higher.
Make sure to always replace any product after six months, or any time you have an eye infection.
5. Stove knobs and kitchen faucets
We touch these handles every day, then forget to clean them with the rest of the kitchen. It pays to pop all these handles off once a week and drop them in a sink full of soapy water.
6. Pet toys
The NSF reports that your pet's slobber makes their toys a breeding ground for mold, and dangerous bacteria like staph. Remind yourself to throw Fido's plush chew toys in with the laundry, and wash the rest in soapy water.
7. Cutting boards
When you leave scratches on this kitchen staple, food particles get stuck inside and develop mold. It's important to always throw your board in the dishwasher or the sink after using it.
8. Reusable shopping bags
These bags carry unwashed veggies, containers of raw meat, and everything else you bring home from the grocery store. But when is the last time you washed yours? Even a quick soak in cold water will make them much safer.
9. Kitchen counters
This kitchen surface takes more punishment than any other part of your home, hands down. It can be hard to stay on top of them, especailly if yours has a surface that requires extra TLC. In most cases, a quick scrub with a bleach/water mixture will do the trick.
10. Your fridge
Again, when is the last time you gave your fridge a thorough cleaning? The shelves that hold jars and containers might not be so bad, but sections where raw meat sits should be wiped down regularly to keep bacteria from spreading.
11. Light switches
All of the bacteria from every other surface of your home winds up here, where it gets passed on to your family members. A quick cleaning would help, but so would washing your hands more often, especially before you turn out the bathroom light.
12. Your sink
You should think of the sink itself as the last "dish" to clean after dinner. A quick rub-down with warm water and soap is enough to protect yourself from nasty mold and food germs.
13. Pet bowls
A dirty water bowl could make you and your pet sick. Dogs and cats leave slobber at the bottom of their bowl, so you should always rinse them before refilling it. Otherwise, bacteria will bloom under the water.
Are you guilty of ignoring any of these?