Feb 02, 2015 6:00 AM

Author: Office of Public Affairs

When you think of areas at home that harbor germs, the bathroom might be top of mind. But a study by NSF International proved that the kitchen was by far the germiest room in the home. When is the last time you wiped down the refrigerator handle or the buttons on your stove? “Most people take steps to clean bathrooms and perceived dirty places,” says Nathan Bexfield, MD, a pediatrician at University of Utah Health. “But there are lots of germy places at home that you might miss.” Here are five items at home that have more germs than your average toilet. 

family health


Coffee maker

When you make coffee, do you dump the grounds then forget about the reservoir? In the study, yeast and mold was found on 50% of coffee makers. Safe solution: Warm, moist environments breed germs. After each use, wash the coffeepot and reservoir with hot soapy water and air dry. Run a vinegar-water solution through the coffee maker monthly.

Toothbrush holder

It’s pretty gross to think that toothbrush holders ranked second on the list for germiest items at home. Nearly 65% contained yeast and mold, 27% had coliform (the same family as E. coli and salmonella), and 14% tested positive for staph bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus). Safe solution: “Wash your toothbrush holder in hot, soapy water or run it through the dishwasher weekly,” Bexfield says.


Think twice before putting your purse on the kitchen table. Chances are, it has visited a lot of bathroom floors, shopping carts and other germ-infested places. Safe solution: Wipe the handles and bottom of your purse with disinfectant wipes, and use a bathroom hook when available. Wash hands regularly and use hand sanitizer.

Pet toys

When was the last time you washed Fido’s toys or food bowl? In the study, 23% of pet toys contained dangerous staph bacteria, and 45% of pet bowls had mold and yeast. You did wash your hands after playing fetch, right? Safe solution: “Wash bowls in the dishwasher every couple of days, and frequently wash toys in the washer using hot water,” Bexfield says.


Ironically, the item you use to clean the kitchen is the germiest. Ranking first on the list, more than 75% of the sponges tested contained coliform bacteria. Germs cling to sponges and can spread to anything you wash down. Safe solution: “To kill 99% of bacteria, zap damp sponges in the microwave for one minute, and replace sponges every couple weeks,” Bexfield says.

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