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Your cutting board

Your cutting board
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Researchers at the University of Arizona found that the average cutting board has 200 times more faecal bacteria than a toilet seat. A big culprit: raw meat, since many faecal bacteria originate in animals’ internal organs. So, the last chicken cutlet you diced? The tiny grooves your knife left in the cutting board are prime real estate for germs to get cozy.

Clean it: Wash plastic cutting boards with liquid dish detergent and water, then soak thoroughly in a solution of two teaspoons of bleach and 3.75 litres of water. For wooden boards, do the same but use two tablespoons of bleach per 3.75 litres of water. Don’t soak overnight.

Here are some more germy kitchen items you probably don’t think to clean.

Your pet’s food bowl

Your pet’s food bowl
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One of the home’s dirtiest surfaces could be your pet’s trusty kibble dish. If your dog licks a toilet seat, he’s picking up about 295 bacteria per square inch. But if he licks the inside rim of his unclean dish, he just gobbled up 2,110 bacteria per square inch—and what dog licks just one inch?

Clean it: To keep pets healthy, wash all food bowls after every meal with hot water and soap, or combine baking soda, warm water, and salt in equal parts and scrub the surface in circles before rinsing. If you don’t, bacteria will multiply on the leftover residue of your pet’s slobber and food bits, a little like if you used the same fork every day without washing it.

Your clean laundry

Your clean laundry
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A load of underwear will transfer at least 100 million E. coli bacteria—the culprit behind diarrhoea—to the washing machine, which becomes a breeding ground that can contaminate other clothing. With a front-loading machine, it’s worse; water settles at the bottom and creates the moist environment bacteria loves. Your toilet seat, on the other hand, is too dry to support a very large bacterial population.

Clean it: Disinfect your machine by washing a load of whites with bleach first, or cleaning your washer with bleach at least once a month (pour two cups of bleach into the detergent compartment, and run empty on the hottest cycle before wiping dry; leave the door open after). To avoid spreading bacteria, wash underwear separately with hot water and a colour-safe bleach replacement.

Here are some secrets your housecleaners wants you to know.

Your smartphone or tablet

Your smartphone or tablet
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A 2018 study from Initial Washroom Hygiene found that phones are more than six times dirtier than toilet seats, according to the Daily Mail. The company swabbed 50 phones for germs and found that the average phone had 1479 bacteria “hot spots,” compared to 220 on toilet seats. A leather phone cases that doubled as a wallet was the biggest offender, carrying 17 times more germs than the toilet. Another uncomfortable detail: In a 2016 survey of 1000 U.K. employees, about one third admitted to using their phones while using the toilet. “A smartphone which is brought into a washroom will invariably end up with invisible traces of faeces and urine on it,” hygiene expert Lisa Ackerley said in a report. “These will then transfer to the owner’s hands.”

Clean it: Reduce your exposure to germs by cleaning your electronic screens with screen wipes or a damp, soft cloth—and leaving them out of the bathroom in the first place.

Your carpet

Your carpet
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Fun fact: Bacteria love munching on dead skin cells. Considering that the average person sheds about 1.5 million every hour, that turns your rugs into a fine dining experience when you add food particles, pet dander, pollen, and other bits. About 200,000 bacteria live in each square inch of carpet (nearly 700 times more than on your toilet seat), including E. coli, staphylococcus, and salmonella.

Clean it: Since your vacuum cleaner can’t reach to the bottom of the carpet, hire a company to deep clean at least once a year.

Your tap handles

Your tap handles
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Your bathroom faucet handle can have 21 times the bacteria of your toilet seat. Even worse—your kitchen faucet handles can harbor 44 times the bacteria of your toilet seat. Drains are moist and protected from your usual cleaning products, and a study in Applied and Environmental Microbiology found that drug-resistant bacteria like E. coli can spread from the pipes to your sink and hands.

Clean it: Disinfect and clean regularly along with the rest of your sink to make sure washing your hands isn’t making you dirtier.

Step back in time with these nearly forgotten house cleaning tips.

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Your computer keyboard

Your computer keyboard

Clicking away at your computer in between bites of lunch may have led to the last “office bug” you picked up. When British researchers swabbed 33 keyboards in a London office, they found that they harboured up to five times the germs of a toilet seat.

Clean it: Wash hands, and surfaces, often. As if all that weren’t enough, here are some more reasons you should definitely clean your computer keyboard.

Your handbag

Your handbag
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It goes with everything, including germs. When British researchers studied 25 handbags, they found that the average handbag is three times dirtier than an office toilet seat. Handbags used regularly were ten times dirtier. Handles carried the most bacteria, but even items inside the bag were grimy—hand and face creams were the dirtiest, along with lipstick and gloss. Stomach flu viruses have been traced back to reusable grocery bags, too.

Clean it: Keep your bags off the ground, and regularly wash cloth bags when possible. For plastic or leather bags, use disinfectant wipes.

Your kitchen cloth or sponge

Your kitchen cloth or sponge
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Not only are sponges dirtier than your toilet seat, but they’re dirtier than any other item in your house. When researchers investigated 14 used kitchen sponges, they found an insane 45 billion microbes per square centimetre, according to the results in Scientific Reports. Dishcloths and sponges harbor the largest amount of E. coli and other faecal bacteria in the average home, mostly because they aren’t replaced as often as they should.

Clean it: Each week, toss dishcloths in the washing machine and sponges in the dishwasher, or heat in the microwave (while damp) for 30 seconds. Replace sponges every other week or so.

Your TV remote

Your TV remote
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It may surprise you, but your channel changer is surprisingly germy. Anything that’s been on your hands before you started surfing collects on your remote. Not to mention, your remote collects dust sitting on your couch, gets sat on, and may even have crumbs on it, if you like to eat in front of the TV. Grime can get stuck in the nooks and crannies between the buttons, so cleaning it can be a challenge.

Clean it: Every now and then, wipe down your remote using a bit of dish soap or an antiseptic wipe. Make sure to get in between the buttons.

Here are 10 more germ-spreading habits you should give up.

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