There are some areas of your home that you kind of expect to be dirty, such as your toilet and your garbage cans. But have you thought about the things that keep you and your home clean…and all of the germs that inevitably cross their path?
Your Washing Machine
Just think about your undergarments. A typical laundry load of undergarments can transfer about 500 million E. coli bacteria to the machine. This can contaminate other clothing items, which may harbor germs of their own.
To keep your washing machine clean:
- Wash most whites first, and use chlorine bleach – this will help sanitize the machine.
- Then dedicate a load to underwear, using hot water (150°F) and a color-safe bleach substitute.
- Once a month, run an empty cycle with bleach to wipe out any lingering germs. This is especially important for front-loading machines; water tends to settle in the bottom of these machines, allowing bacteria to proliferate.
You load up your dishwasher with dirty dishes. While you’re waiting to actually run the dishwasher, bacteria is being lured to that caked-on food.
“When you allow dishes to accumulate for a few days, growth of bacteria invariably increases,” says Philip Tierno Jr., director of microbiology and immunology at NYU’s Langone Medical Center and the author of “The Secret Life of Germs.”
“And even if you can’t see it, there is viable foodstuff in the rinse water to feed them.”
Plus, the dishwasher’s door gasket may be contaminated with fungus and black yeast.
“That outer rim never reaches a temperature high enough to kill everything off,” Tierno shares.
- If you don’t plan on running a load soon, rinse your plates with a mild bleach solution (a shot glass of bleach to a half quart of water). This kills surface organisms so you can let dishes accumulate, Tierno says.
- Use the same solution to periodically clean the gasket.
A 2011 study in Microscopy Research and Technique found that nearly half of never-before-used brushes were