Written by Tenley Haraldson.
It's never been more important to keep your living space free of bacteria and viruses. That’s why we've created an easy-to-follow guide on cleaning and sanitizing the germiest places in your home.
The Most Common Household Germs
From stomach bugs to listeria to E.coli, even the cleanest home harbors invisible microbes that can potentially cause mild and serious illnesses.
In fact, one analysis of 30 different “high-touch” spots in the average home found 340 different types of germs including:
- Campylobacter - foodborne illness that causes nausea, diarrhea, & vomiting
- Clostridium difficile (C. diff) - bacteria causing diarrhea and colitis
- Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) - an infection caused by a certain strep bacteria
- Escherichia coli (E.coli) - certain strains of this bacteria can cause serious abdominal illness
- Salmonella - bacteria that can cause fever, diarrhea, and stomach cramps
- Staphylococcus aureus (Staph) - a germ most people carry. In some cases, it can lead to sepsis, pneumonia, and other serious illnesses.
- Streptococcus (Strep) - bacteria causing a host of illnesses from strep throat to scarlet fever, and pneumonia
By focusing on the dirtiest places in your home, you won't just eliminate bacteria, mold, and fungi: You'll also reduce your chances of getting sick.
First Thing’s First: Keep New Pathogens Out
In addition to disinfecting your belonging like keys, laptop cases, handbags, and even takeout meals:
- Take your shoes off outside, spray them with a disinfectant, and store them in an entryway/mudroom.
- If you’re a frontline worker, immediately throw your clothes into the washing machine.
- Consider taking a shower ASAP and requiring mandatory bathtime for kids when they come home.
- Keep hand sanitizer at the main entry points of your home.
You Need to Clean Before Disinfecting
It's important to remember that disinfectants can only kill germs effectively when messes are first removed.
Cleaning removes dirt, gunk, and other impurities from all of the soft and hard surfaces in your home. And even though cleaning doesn’t necessarily kill every germ, it definitely helps to limit their numbers while reducing the chances of them spreading.
Get the best tips from the cleaning obsessed.
Puracy crafts cleaning & care items that work really well. Our obsession with natural cleaning performance is our profession, and we're here to share it with you.
Pro Tip: For light cleaning, our Multi-Surface Spray breaks down dirt, grease, and gunk from all of your non-porous surfaces.
When to Disinfect Home Surfaces
Disinfectants don’t usually remove dirt and build-up on surfaces – they focus on killing the germs and bacteria that are living on them. Use products exactly as directed. In many cases, this means allowing them to stay wet on a respective surface for minutes at a time.
Puracy Disinfecting Surface Cleaner is a 2-in-1 hydrogen peroxide-based disinfectant. Not only does it cleans surfaces, but it also kills 99.9+% of bacteria and viruses (within 10 minutes of soak time):
- Influenza (e.g. influenza A, H1N1)
- Staph (staphylococcus aureus)
- Listeria (listeria monocytogenes)
- Pseudomonas (pseudomonas aeruginosa)
- Trichophyton (trichophyton mentagrophytes)
- E. coli (escherichia coli)
4 Spots That Kitchen Bacteria & Viruses Thrive
Kitchens are the ideal environment for countless germs and bacteria to thrive.
1. Kitchen Sponges
Sponges retain water and don’t usually dry out completely between uses. This makes them excellent "microbiological hot spots." And when they're used to wash food, dishes, and countertops, those germs cross-contaminate surfaces.
- Enterobacter cloacae
How to Keep Kitchen Sponges Clean
To keep your sponge clean, allow it to completely dry out between uses and replace it often (don't leave it in the bottom of the kitchen sink!). Rather than wiping them across food surfaces and countertops, opt for washable microfiber towels whenever possible.
Most experts recommend replacing your kitchen sponges every 1-2 weeks, but we prefer dish duty with an OXO Dish Brush instead: It’s non-porous, gentle on surfaces, drains completely, and doesn’t harbor germs easily.
2. Kitchen Sinks
The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) found that kitchen sinks are the second dirtiest spots in the home – and nearly half of those evaluated had coliform.
Pro Tip: To fight kitchen bacteria and viruses, we've put together the most comprehensive guide to cleaning your kitchen sink.
3. Cutting Boards
If you use a cutting board to prep your meals, germs from food can be transferred to your hands, utensils, and countertops. Implement these tips to prevent cross-contamination:
- Use color-coded boards that are designated for meat, poultry, fish, etc.
- Clean and sanitize cutting boards after each use. Replace them relatively often (since grooves caused by knives can harbor moisture and bacteria).
- Disinfect wood cutting boards by spraying them with a solution of 1 tablespoon liquid chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of water. Allow to dry and take care to rinse with water so bleach residue is completely removed.
- Dishwasher-safe plastic cutting boards can be cleaned with our Disinfecting Surface Cleaner – or you can run them through a hot/sanitize dishwasher cycle.
4. Coffee Pots
Coffee reservoirs are another good hiding spot for mold, bacteria, and more. Mold can trigger headaches and sinus issues, coliform can cause stomach bugs – and they can totally change the taste of your morning brew.
Pro Tip: To prevent bacteria buildup, we've compiled a comprehensive guide on how to deep clean your coffee maker.
The 3 Germiest Spots in Your Bathroom
Higher temperatures and humidity make the bathroom the perfect place for germs to thrive. Here are some of the dirtiest spots in the bathroom, as well as tips for keeping them clean:
1. Handles & Door Knobs
Everything your hands come into contact with is transferred to the handles of your faucet, cupboards, doorknobs, and light switches (and vice versa). Disinfect these every few days to remove viruses, yeast, coliform, and mold. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we recommend that you do this every day.
After using Puracy Multi-Surface Spray to remove regular dirt and grime, spray faucet handles and other hardware with our Disinfecting Surface Cleaner. Let the liquid sit for at least 10 minutes and wipe away with a clean, dry microfiber towel.
2. Toothbrush Holders
According to the NSF study we previously mentioned, your toothbrush holder is the #3 germiest place in your home. More than 25% of them contain coliform and 14% contain Staphylococcus aureus (staph).
To disinfect your toothbrush holder, immerse it in equal parts water and white vinegar for 1-2 minutes. Using an old toothbrush or pipe cleaner, scrub dirt and debris. Rinse under hot water and allow it to dry. If your toothbrush holder is dishwasher-safe, run it through a cycle (along with your toothbrushes) every week.
Pro Tip: Keep toothbrushes in dry, open-air containers that are as far from the toilet and sink areas as possible.
3. Bath Toys
Ever squeezed out a bath toy to discover that it’s full of gunk? That’s mold and bacteria. As plastic bath toys sit in water, they release carbon which promotes the growth of microbes and biofilm. That’s not even including microorganisms from the human body – yuck!
Fun Fact: Young children tend to put things in their mouths. That means they’re likely ingesting some of those organisms.
To clean bath toys, “dishwasher-safe” objects can be run through a cycle (on the top rack). Others can be cleaned by hand with an old toothbrush soaked in dish soap and water.
The Germiest Places in Your Bedroom
Your bedroom should be a restful retreat – but your bed is a breeding ground for all kinds of creepy contaminants:
- Dust mite waste: Dust mite droppings are highly-allergenic and found in 80% of homes.
- Bacteria, fungi, and mold: Pillows are especially dirty, carrying Aspergillus fumigatus and other fungi which can trigger asthma and other serious conditions.
- Human sweat: Illnesses like strep and staph can be passed to partners via sweat.
How to Clean Your Mattress
It’s certainly easier to sleep soundly when you know you’re not surrounded by dust mites and bacteria. To deep-clean your mattress:
- Invest in a protective, waterproof mattress cover that covers the entire mattress.
- If you don’t have a waterproof mattress cover, vacuum your mattress with an upholstery attachment every time you wash your sheets.
- Wash your sheets weekly and your mattress protector once a month.
- Spot clean your mattress using Puracy Stain Remover, following the directions on the bottle.
- When dry, vacuum once more and replace your mattress cover and linens.
Pro Tip: Every mattress is different, so check manufacturer instructions before cleaning.
How to Clean Pillows
There are four easy tips for clean pillows:
- Use a pillow cover underneath your pillowcase.
- Wash pillow covers and cases at least once a week.
- Invest in latex and memory foam pillows (which are less likely to harbor bacteria and fungi).
- No protective cover? If your pillows are machine-washable, you can wash them at least once a month on a gentle, warm water/low heat cycle with an enzyme-based detergent. Wash two at a time to keep the machine balanced.
Focus on These Living Room Locations
Carpets and upholstery harbor incredible amounts of bacteria. Weekly maintenance can dramatically curb the growth of microscopic organisms caused by shoes, clothing, pet dander, skin cells, and food crumbs.
How to Clean Carpet & Upholstery
Vacuum carpets weekly and spot treat them as needed with Puracy Natural Stain Remover. Its powerful, plant-based enzymes remove hundreds of messes like:
- Pet accidents
After spot-treating, follow up with a Natural Carpet & Upholstery Shampoo to freshen fabrics while removing dirt and grime.
Pro Tip: We recommend a yearly steam cleaning to eliminate odors, residues, and bacteria.
Special Mention: Your Electronics Are Crawling in Bacteria
Since cell phones are 10x dirtier than the average toilet seat, clean them regularly. Microfiber is ideal for screens and electronics because it won’t scratch surfaces or leave lint and fibers behind.
- Make a solution of equal parts isopropyl alcohol and distilled water.
- Dab or spray the solution onto an edgeless microfiber towel until it’s slightly damp.
- Wipe the towel across all of the surfaces of your phone without saturating it.
- Using a dry microfiber towel, wipe down your phone again, soaking up any beads of moisture that remain.
Pro Tip: You can use this method for remote controls and gaming controllers, too.
Puracy Products Clean Your Home Safely & Effectively
To prevent the spread of germs throughout your home, fill it with Puracy cleaning essentials. We’ve made it simple to get rid of life’s messes and kill more than 99.9+% of bacteria, mold, and viruses – what could be easier than that?