Top Spots For Household Bacteria

Your home may be germier than you think, new research shows.

Out of 32 places in the home, the top spots for bacteria are the toilet bowl, kitchen drain, kitchen sponge or counter-wiping cloth, bathtub, and kitchen sink, according to a new study.

But only 3% of Americans think they're more likely to pick up germs from their bathtub than from their garbage bins, a new survey shows. The telephone survey included more than 10,000 people worldwide, including about 1,000 people in the U.S.

In the survey, few U.S. participants, 5%, answered "in the home" when they were asked where they thought children are most likely to catch infection.

While infections can happen anywhere, the home has plenty of places were
bacteria roost, according to the report.

The study and survey come from the Hygiene Council -- which is funded by Reckitt Benckiser, the company that makes Lysol.Researchers visited 35 U.S. homes, swabbing for bacteria in 32 locations in each home.

Here's how those spots ranked, in terms of the average number of bacteria per square inch. Spots with the same average number of bacteria have the same rank.

Toilet bowl: 3.2 million bacteria/square inch
Kitchen drain: 567,845 bacteria/square inch
Sponge or counter-wiping cloth: 134,630 bacteria/square inch
Bathtub, near drain: 119,468 bacteria/square inch
Kitchen sink, near drain: 17,964 bacteria/square inch
Kitchen faucet handle: 13,227 bacteria/square inch
Bathroom faucet handle: 6,267 bacteria/square inch
Bathroom sink, near drain: 2,733 bacteria/square inch
Pet food dish, inside rim: 2,110 bacteria/square inch
Kitchen floor, in front of sink: 830 bacteria/square inch
Toilet floor, in front of toilet: 764 bacteria/square inch
Kitchen countertop: 488 bacteria/square inch
Bathroom countertop: 452 bacteria/square inch
Garbage bin: 411 bacteria/square inch
Dish towel: 408 bacteria/square inch
Toy: 345 bacteria/square inch
Kitchen tabletop: 344 bacteria/square inch
Home office phone or refrigerator door: 319 bacteria/square inch
Toilet seat: 295 bacteria/square inch
Bathroom light switch: 217 bacteria/square inch
Microwave buttons: 214 bacteria/square inch
Kitchen chopping board: 194 bacteria/square inch
Child-training potty: 191 bacteria/square inch
Infant changing mat and infant high chair: 190 bacteria/square
Kitchen phone: 133 bacteria/square inch
Bathroom door's inside handle: 121 bacteria/square inch
Toilet's flush handle: 83 bacteria/square inch
TV remote control: 70 bacteria/square inch
Home office computer keyboard: 64 bacteria/square inch
Home office computer mouse: 50 bacteria/square inch

The CDC recommends washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water aren't available.

The FDA recommends mixing 1 teaspoon of chlorine bleach into 1 quart of water for a homemade sanitizing solution or using a commercial sanitizer to help keep kitchen surfaces clean.
By Miranda Hitti
Reviewed by Louise Chang
©2007 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved


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