Before hosting Christmas, get rid of these germy spots in your home

Photo: Dawn Arlotta / CDC
Photo: Dawn Arlotta / CDC(WHSV)
Published: Dec. 15, 2017 at 5:20 PM EST
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You may think the dirty toilet is the nastiest place in your home, but do you really know the places to clean before the family comes over for the holidays?

scientists swabbed 30 surfaces in 22 homes to analyze levels of yeast, mold, coliform bacteria (including salmonella and E. coli) and staph germs. These are the top 10 household items with the most germs, according to those swabs:

10. Cutting boards

Scientists found that 18 percent of cutting boards played host to dangerous coliform bacteria, and 14 percent contained molds and yeast. To cut down on these bacteria, wash boards after every use, place them in the dishwasher or hand-wash with hot soapy water.

9. Stove knobs

Scientists found 14 percent of knobs had coliform bacteria, while 27 percent played host to molds and yeast. To get rid of the contaminants, remove the knobs and wash them in hot, soapy water once a week.

8. Kitchen counters

In the study, scientists found that 32 percent of countertops harbored coliform bacteria, and 18 percent were found to have mold. Try rinsing countertops with a dilute bleach/water solution after you prepare food (unless your countertops need special care).

7. Pet toys

Twenty-three percent of pet toys were found to have potentially dangerous staph bacteria, along with 55 percent having yeasts and molds and 14 percent having coliform bacteria. To clean pet toys, scrub hard toys with soap, water and a mild bleach solution. You can wash soft toys in the washer.

6. Faucet handles

Scientists found coliform bacteria on nine percent of bathroom faucet handles, and 27 percent had mold, while five percent carried staph. Clean faucet handles daily with disinfectant wipes or spray.

5. Coffee makers

Fifty percent of reservoirs on coffee makers were found to have mold and yeast, and nine percent had coliform bacteria. To clean, add four cups of vinegar to the reservoir, let sit for 30 minutes and then brew the vinegar. Next, run two or three cycles of fresh water through the coffee maker until the smell is gone. For additional or specialized cleaning tips, read the user's manual.

4. Pet bowls

Scientists found 45 percent of pet bowls harbored mold and yeast, and 18 percent contained coliform bacteria. To clean, put the bowls in the dishwasher, or hand wash using a dilute bleach solution. Rinse carefully with clean water.

3. Toothbrush holders

Twenty-seven percent of toothbrush holders had coliform and 14 percent had staph, likely because toothbrush holders tend to be close to the toilet. Whenever you flush with the lid open, it could release fecal-containing aerosols into the air. Sixty-four percent of toothbrush holders held mold and yeast. To clean, toss the toothbrush holder in the dishwasher if able, or wash with hot soapy water twice a week.

2. Kitchen sinks

The study found that 45 percent of sinks tested positive for coliform bacteria, while 27 percent contained mold. Clean the sides and bottom of the sink twice a week. Once a month, pour a solution of one teaspoon of bleach per one quart of water down the drain. Don't forget to wash the sink strainer.

1. Dish sponges/rags

The germiest item in your home may, ironically enough, be the item you use to keep things clean. In the study, scientists found 77 percent of dish sponges and rags harbored coliform bacteria, and 86 percent contained yeast and mold. Eighteen percent contained staph. To clean, microwave wet sponges once a day for two minutes, and replace them every two weeks. If you use a rag, toss it in the washing machine on a hot cycle every day or two.

If you're the one traveling for the holidays, keep away from germs by sitting toward the front of the airplane, which will allow you to have optimal air flow from the ventilation systems. Remember to wash or sanitize your hands after you get off an escalator, and after using an ATM. For more traveling tips,