You are not living alone
The choice of title for this post was a toss-up between the one you see up there, and “The most germ-ridden room in your house” But given the fact that there are millions of other life forms living in our homes, telling the most accurate truth was the better choice. And while germs are present all over your house, there’s one room in particular that contains more of them than any other.
Despite 295 different kinds of bacteria living on any square inch of your toilet seat, it’s not your bathroom. The room with more germs than any other is your kitchen, with an average of 344 different types of bacteria per square inch present on the average kitchen table-top. That’s right, your entire kitchen is the promised land for many different kinds of germs.
But germs are all around us every day of our lives. The real question is: should you be worried? Here’s what science has revealed…
Meet your kitchen’s top tenants
E.coli, formally known as Escherichia coli, is a bacterium that lives in the lower digestive tract of most warm-blooded animals. While many types are harmless, some can however cause diarrhea, or worse, urinary tract infections and even kidney failure, to name a few. In most homes this bacterium is most abundant around the kitchen sink area and can be found in the kitchen sink, on sponges and rags, and even on the faucets. And yes, probably on some of your cutlery and crockery too.
Ever wonder why some dogs would rather drink out of the toilet? Well there’s your answer.
Related to E.coli, Salmonella can be found in most animals – both warm- and cold-blooded. In most cases infection causes a type of food poisoning called salmonellosis, which may manifest a number of symptoms including, but not limited to, diarrhea (may lead to dehydration and require hospitalization), fever, abdominal cramps, and even Reiter’s Syndrome which causes inflammation in a number of potentially uncomfortable places, and may lead to arthritis.
Where the above two bacteria were found in more than 80% of homes during a WebMD study, the next kitchen tenant has only been found in 1 out of every 3. Staphylococcus, more commonly referred to as ‘staph’, is found in the nose, mouth, anal area, and genitals of roughly 25% of Americans. You’ll probably have heard of “staph infections”, which is one of many skin conditions caused by this bacteria. And make no mistake, some of them are very severe.
While abundant in the kitchen, researchers have found higher concentrations of Staphylococcus bacteria on pets’ toys and, would you believe it?, video game consoles.
What can you do?
Regular cleaning is a given. However keep in mind that all of the bacteria above, and many not mentioned, are most abundant on sponges and rags, those items you use to clean with. Wooden cutting boards have also been identified as prime real estate for many potentially harmful bacteria in your kitchen.
Reduce the number of different germs and bacteria in your house by replacing your cleaning equipment regularly, and by using a natural disinfectant to keep your cutting board germ-free. Video game consoles and other exposed surfaces in your home should be disinfected with each cleaning session. And while we’re at it, consider spoiling your dog a little more often with a new toy, instead of letting that old one lie around picking up unwanted passengers.
(Oh yes, you might want to pay attention to toothbrush holders, too.)