Bacteria Lurks In These Common Places, But these Tips Can Help

Your home is the safest place where you can reside without any threat, stress, and fear. When the outer world can be apprehensive, it’s your home… Trista - November 29, 2019

Your home is the safest place where you can reside without any threat, stress, and fear. When the outer world can be apprehensive, it’s your home that will make you feel secure. Providing us with a shelter to live and arena where family members can connect, home is certainly where we can live peacefully.

It is essential to maintain our home, whether the terms of its condition or cleanliness. Both are equally important in ensuring that your home is a safe place to live. Cleanliness forms a significant part of home maintenance. Whether you like it or not, you have to keep your home clean. Dust and germs continuously attack your home, making it dirty and unhygienic. It is necessary to clean every corner of your home to keep yourself healthy.

Your house has unseen bacteria. Pexels

Dust, Germs, and Bacteria — Oh My!

If you think staying inside can safeguard you from possible diseases and infections, then you must know the fact that your home is a hidden world for germs. You are not the only one living inside your home; there are some unwelcomed and surprising guests that reside in your home without your consent. These guests can bring you troubles in the form of diseases and infections. Hence, it is essential to know more about the bacteria and germs found in the home, so that you can take necessary actions to get rid of them.

Some home-based bacteria can multiply every 20 minutes when they get the right temperature and nutrients to feed in. – Society For General Microbiology

Your living space is shared by thousands of microbes and bacteria that can contaminate your home. There are plenty of chances through which these microbes can attack our household. Germs and bacteria can be spread in various ways. Before getting deep into the bacteria found in your house, let’s take a look at the possibly dirty places in your home.

Your kitchen sink is dirty but can’t be seen from the naked eye. Pexels

Everything Including the Kitchen Sink

A place where your food is cooked and the entire dirty utensil lie can be one of the most polluted places in your house. Food remnants left in your plates can breed bacteria to a whole new level. When it comes to the most prone area for bacteria, the kitchen sink is the dirtiest place in your kitchen. The kitchen sink houses all your dirty dishes, vegetable peels, and remaining drinks that are enough to make your kitchen develop bacteria.

While a majority of people concentrate on cleaning their kitchen area with disinfectant cleaner, they often forget to focus on the sink. It would help if you always wash your sink with a bleach solution that should clean the drain and the water pipe as well. All the kitchen items must be cleaned thoroughly, including cutting boards, refrigerators, coffee makers, and others.

There are unseen germs on all the handles. Pexels

Knobs, Handles, and Switches

It is one of the most negligent places in your home that often escape from your cleaning regimen. Bacteria and germs can be formed anywhere. It can travel from one place to another through air or water. Our hands always have bacteria and viruses, and when we touch different items in our home, these bacteria tend to spread. Light switches, handles, and countertops are the most obvious places to develop bacteria. We are in constant contact with these items.

Many have a perception that bathroom knob is the most the dirtiest of all things; studies have proven that there are several other places as well that have higher bacterial count. For instance, bathroom light switch, stove knobs, microwave handles, refrigerator. It is essential to clean these places regularly in order to steer clear from any infection. When you clean your home, you must not forget to keep these items clean. It is not necessary that you wash them daily, cleaning them once a week would be sufficient. Use different wipes to clean every spot rather than using the same for every place.

TV remotes are full of germs that you cannot see. Pixabay

TV Remote Control

Anything that comes in contact with your hands and remains exposed to air is prone to bacterial attacks. Your remote control lies there all day long, even drops on the floor, stays stuffed between the cushions, bears all your cough and sneezes, all these reasons are ample to make it extremely dirty. The reason why we are ignorant of these germs is that we are not able to see them with naked eyes. Anything that we touch a lot has viruses and bacteria on it.

According to a study conducted by the University of Virginia, it was found that remote control’s surface is the dirtiest and need regular cleaning. It is advised to wipe your remote with bleach or alcohol wipe. Cleaning it daily is the ideal way to steer clear from the bacteria that are found on its surface. You can also add a plastic cover over it to safeguard it from the possible attack of bacteria. It is also advised to keep your toddlers away from the remote as they tend to have a habit of taking everything in mouth and taking remote in the mouth can make them severely ill.

There is a galore of germs found in a bathroom. Pexels

The Beautiful Bathroom

One of the most common places in households that everyone thinks is the dirtiest in the bathroom. Yes, your bathroom is a galore of germs and bacteria, as your bathroom is the place where your scrub your body dirt and germs. When your body dirt comes together with the moisture of a hot shower, your bathroom becomes the perfect arena for rapid germ growth. These germs feed on the soil and moisture, making your bathroom extremely dirty. You might not be able to see the bacteria present in your home, but they are found in infinite quantity.

There are many prime places in your bathroom where the bacteria are found in maximum that includes shower tub, faucets, drains, toothbrushes, towels, and more. It is essential to regularly clean your bathroom and keep it dry after a shower to prevent rapid bacterial growth. Periodically wipe the handles, surfaces, rods, shelves, and other surfaces with a disinfectant cleaner. Cleaning daily would be more beneficial, but you have to make weekly cleaning mandatory. You can even use your old toothbrushes to clean the small spaces where you cannot reach otherwise. Don’t be a stickler for using the same towels for months and even years. Replace your bathroom towels once a week and toothbrushes every two to three months.

Four out of 20 keyboards are contaminated. Pexels

The Computer Keyboard

If you have a terrible habit of eating at your computer or using it with dirty hands, then you must know that your computer keyboard has accumulated thousands of bacteria by now. Using a dirty keyboard can be hazardous to your health, as your hands come in direct contact with the keyboard. A British consumer group conducted a study where they inspected keyboards for bacteria, and surprisingly they found many harmful bacteria, including E. coli and staph.

Four out of 20 keyboards were found contaminated with germs that can make you severely ill. To everyone’s shock, a keyboard had five times higher bacteria count than a toilet seat. Hence, it is a concerning issue that you just pay attention to. If you use your computer regularly, it is vital to keep its keyboard clean and free from a germ attack. You would not want to contaminate your keyboard, so always wash your hands before and after using the computer. Make sure the food crumbs do not fall into your console. At regular intervals, clean your keyboard by shaking off or vacuuming the crumbs. Use bleach wipes to clean the keyboard keys.

Pet bowls, pet toys, everything carries germs. Pexels

Your Four-Legged Friends

If you have pets in your house, then you must be extra careful regarding the growth of germs. Pets can also bring bugs to your home as they stay outside. A study by the NSF found that pet bowls ranked fourth in the hot spots for bacteria in the households. Along with pet bowls, pet toys also carry yeast, molds, and staph. Your pet, whether dog or cat, plays outside in dirt and mud, no matter if they take a bath after that there would be some amount of bacteria left that they would leave in your home.

It is essential to keep your home clean, especially when you have pets around. It would help if you kept all your dog’s accompaniments clean and tidy. Regularly wash or wipe them. Make sure your pets don’t bring germs and bacteria inside your house by cleaning or wiping their paws with wipes before bringing them. Wash the pet bowls with warm, soapy water, and don’t forget to soak them in bleach every once a week. Clean all the pet toys with warm soapy water. It is essential to keep your house clean and hygienic when your pets are around, as it will help in safeguarding your and your pet’s health as well.

The laundry is a common place where bacteria breed. Pexels

That Smelly Laundry

If you think your clothes are not as dirty as other items in your house, then you are hugely mistaken. Laundry is one of the most common places where bacteria breed. If you leave your laundry for a long duration in the machine, there are high chances that germs can flourish in your laundry within such a short period. When your clothes remain in the device for more than 30 minutes, then you would probably want to run a second cycle to clean your clothes. Your washing machine is also among those dirty spots where bacteria and germs are found in large quantities.

Along with cleaning other items and appliances in your home, you must also focus on keeping your washing machine. Your washing machine cleans all your dirty clothes, and these germs are left in the machine. Hence, it becomes crucial to keep them clean after the wash. Clean the drum with disinfectant cleaner or wipe. Make sure to wipe the surface ad bottom of the machine regularly. There are plenty of different bacteria that are found in the machine. We will discuss all the types of bacteria found in the device and the possible consequences of neglecting them.

Washing machines are prone to germs. Pixabay

Washing Machine Bacteria: An Overview

As mentioned earlier, washing machines are also prone to bacteria and germ accumulation. No one ever felt essential to clean their washing machine just because it was vulnerable to bacteria until the findings of a multi drug-resistant pathogen found on the infant’s clothing at German’s children’s hospital. Despite taking all the necessary prevention measures, they were unable to eliminate the exposure to the bacteria.

Later it was found that the consumer-grade washing machines in the hospital were responsible for the bacterial growth on the infants’ clothes. The consumer-grade washing machines are low-temperature machines that are not considered ideal for washing large laundries in hospitals. Fortunately, they were able to tame the situation as the infants were only exposed to the bacteria and not infected from it.

How did people come to discover washing machine bacteria? Pixabay

The Bizarre History of Washing Machine Bacteria

The hospital started conducting tests on their incubators, healthcare workers, and whoever came in contact with the washing machines, shockingly all the tests were negative. Only the infants who wore the clothes were exposed to bacteria called Klebsiella oxytoca. It is mostly found in hospitals that are responsible for pneumonia, urinary tracts, soft tissue infection, and some blood infections as well. The hospital tested the socks and hats worn by the infants and found the source of bacteria in them.

It was only later that the hospital found that energy-saving household washing machines were being used to wash a large number of clothes. In further investigation, Klebsiella oxytoca was found in the detergent drawer and rubber door seal of the machine. To stop the spread of the infections, the hospital got rid of the household machines and replaced them with the large commercial machines.

Bacteria that affect your washing machine. Pexels

What Are The Bacteria Affecting Your Washing Machine?

Only less than 20% follow the recommendations for cleaning and maintaining their washing clothes monthly. In order to understand the severity of the issue, you need to know more about the bacteria, possibly lurking in your washing machine that you suppose are otherwise clean. Let’s delve deep into the bacteria thriving in your washing machine, making it the dirty item in your house.

There are plenty of prominent bacteria that are found in the washing machine. Some of the common names that are hazardous to your health include E.coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Salmonella, and Klebsiella pneumonia.

  • Coliform Bacteria (E. coli)

Commonly known as E. coli, Escherichia coli is one of the notorious forms of coliform bacteria. It is commonly found in feces, and it contributes to fecal contamination. According to an experiment conducted by Dr. Gerba, a renowned microbiologist, it was found that 100 washing machines were contaminated by 60% by coliform bacteria and had a presence of 10% E. coli. This deadly pathogen bacteria can get inside your washing bacteria and contaminate it severely. There are many possible sources through which E. coli can enter the washing machine. One of the common findings for such contamination can be through your bathroom.

No matter how thoroughly wipes after using the toilet, there will be some amount of fecal matter that will be left in your underwear. When your underwear is transferred into the washing machine, the pathogen bacteria can contaminate your laundry. And when you wear the contaminated clothes, E. coli can breed several diseases. Modern washers use plastics in their body and drummer that becomes a welcoming aisle for biofilms that comprises bacteria. E. coli is the most dangerous and commonly found bacteria in the washing machine.

While many E. coli bacteria are harmless, some can make you severely ill. If you are thinking about what could E. coli possibly do by entering your washing machine, then there are plenty of symptoms of E. coli you must be aware of. Diarrhea, fever, bloody stools, vomiting, and painful stomach cramps are some of the early and common symptoms. In children, E.coli can be extremely severe, resulting in kidney failures as well. Hence, it is essential to safe-keep your washing machine from E.coli bacteria.

  • Salmonella

A prominent cause of food poisoning, Salmonella is one of the dangerous bacteria that can enter your washing machine. Salmonella is commonly spread by coming in contact with a person who hasn’t washed hands. It is a stubborn bacteria and can be found in clothes that are cleaned at 55° C. Just like E. coli, Salmonella can also result in severe diseases.

The travel path of E. coli and Salmonella are quite similar. Hence, it is crucial to close all the loopholes through which these deadly and notorious bacteria can enter your washing machine. It is essential to clean your machine thoroughly after the laundry. The common symptoms of Salmonella are vomiting, stomach cramps, fever, diarrhea. Salmonella can easily stick on your clothes, making them contaminated. When you wear such contaminated clothes, salmonella bacteria come in contact with your skin generating several diseases.

  • Staphylococcus Aureus and S. Epidermidis

Better known as Staph Infection, Staphylococcus aureus is a major cause of skin infection. It is one of the common bacteria that can be found in your washing machine then in your clothes generating several skin diseases. It generally only result in skin irritation and boils, but Staph, at its worst, can develop blood and bone infections.

Staphylococcus and S. epidermis survive in the laundry at 50° C, as well as making cold water washes more vulnerable to these dangerous bacteria. Scientists advise that you need a temperature of more than 60° C to steer clear from the risks of these bacteria. Practice a regular cleaning regimen for your washing machine to make sure that your clothes and apparatus are not affected by the deadliest washing machine bacteria. There’s nothing you can do to make sure that they don’t enter your machine, you can only prevent them from causing a severe medical issue in your life.

High temperature kills the bacteria. Pixabay

Low-Temperature Responsible For Bacteria Transmission

When it comes to finding the possible causes of such widespread bacteria, the temperature setting of your washing machine can be one of the significant reasons. There is a specific temperature at which your machine wash clothes. Higher the heat, the lower the bacterial transmission. The high temperature will help in killing the bacteria at the early stage, while the low temperature will give them ample opportunity to thrive inside your machine. It is essential to ensure the temperature of your washing machine to determine whether it is prone to bacterial transmission or not.

Ordinary household washing machines are functioned at lower temperatures making your laundry prone to bacteria. Generally, they work at 40° C that is ideal for bacteria to grow in your washing machine and later on your clothes. These household detergents can only remove the dirt and stains; they are not capable of disinfectant cleaning. Commercial machines that are used in big industries, hospitals, public laundries, come with high temperature and have disinfectant cleaning.

They are considered ideal for eradicating the possible bacteria from your washing machine. If you are using your household washing machine, it is advised to avoid cold water washing in order to prevent the bacteria transmission as much as possible. You would not want to contaminate your washing machine. Though the modern washing machines come with the feature of disinfectant cleaning at lower temperatures as well, it is vital to keep checking the temperature. Washing at a lower temperature is also safe for the environment as it saves power and energy. Let’s take a look at the different temperatures at which your washing machine works differently.

  • 20° C: The most energy-efficient temperature at which you can wash clothes and also contribute to a cleaner environment. 20° C washing reduces running costs but does not work on the bacteria. It is ideal for washing delicate clothes, especially. There are high chances of developing molds in the washing drums while washing at this temperature.
  • 30° C: Best washing temperature for wools, silks ad dyed fabrics, 30° C is also an energy-efficient temperature to wash clothes. A majority of households wash clothes at this temperature. You would need a good detergent to get thorough cleanliness at this temperature.
  • 40° C: A slightly warmer temperature to wash clothes, you can clean all your cotton, acrylic, wool mixes, and polyester blends at this temperature. You cannot clean your delicate fabrics at this temperature.
  • 50° C: An ideal temperature to wash of stubborn stains and keep your clothes safe from bacteria, scientists advise to wash clothes at 20° C or higher temperature to steer clear from the bacteria transmission.
  • 60° C: The perfect temperature to kill bacteria, viruses, and remove stains, this temperature is ideal for catering to all your washing requirements. 60° C is best suited for washing bedding and towels.

The higher temperature is recommended to kill the bacteria and removing the molds on the washing machine and clothes as well. According to NHS (National Health Survey), the ideal temperature to wash linen, towels, and underwear is 60° C, as it will help in killing all the possible and deadly bacteria. Especially when you are washing soiled clothes that have stubborn dirt and stains, you would need to use high temperature. Hence, it is advised to use public laundry if you need to wash more dirty clothes and avoid the risks of bacteria.

Can you stop the spread of bacteria in your washing machine? Pixabay

Washing Machine Bacteria

So far, you must have learned how washing machine bacteria are harmful and how they possibly enter your washing machine, now the most important thing is to understand the ways to stop such widespread. There’s no second thought in saying that you need to keep your machine clean to prevent germs and bacteria from lingering in your machine and causing severe health issues. Take a look at the below methods of cleaning the washing machine to avoid the risks of bacterial growth.

  • For effective and long-lasting cleanliness, you must do a little extra work in your weekly cleaning regime. Run an empty cycle once a week with a cup of vinegar or bleach. This barren run will make your washing machine disinfectant. Follow this method regularly to keep your washing machine free from bacterial accumulation.
  • Mold growth is another major cause of dirt and bacteria growth in the washing machine. To avoid mold spores from developing in your device, keep your machine door open after the wash, so that it can get ample air supply. The moisture after the wash makes your device more prone to molds.
  • Rubber or plastic ring of your washing machine door is also the hot spot for bacterial growth. Hence, it is crucial to wash them properly with an anti-bacterial cleaner at regular intervals. Cleaning after every wash is considered beneficial to control bacterial growth.
  • There’s a lint filter in your washing machine that collects all the fabric lint that is shredded from your clothes during the wash. It is essential to empty that filter after every wash as it can develop bacteria and germs from the lint. Empty the screen every time and clean the filter thoroughly at least once a week.
  • Another brilliant way to keep your machine safe from the contamination is to sort the laundry according to the fabric. Underwear and towels are most likely to have pathogen bacteria that are significant causes of skin disease. Hence, they must be washed separately in order to avoid bacterial growth. It was found that a load of just underwear would have 100 million E.coli, which can further contaminate another laundry as well.
Is detergent strong enough to kill bacteria that is already inside of the washing machine? Pixabay

Can Detergent Kill Bacteria?

Detergent alone cannot impart much effect on the stubborn bacteria, but when combined with hot water, detergent can tackle bacterial growth. There are two factors that you need to consider while using detergent to kill the bacteria, high temperature, and the fabric you are washing. For instance, a wool cloth washed at 80° can make it shrink. Hence it is essential to check the label of your clothes and read the instructions for washing.

Using hot water with detergent at a temperature of 40°C and more is considered ideal for killing the stubborn bacteria. For better results, you can also add oxygen bleach into it. For a deep clean, soak the clothes in the solution of oxygen bleach and water for half an hour before running it.

The ideal method to complete disinfectant cleaning is by skipping the tumble dry step of washing. Please don’t tumble dry your clothes, instead of spread them in the sun. It is one of the effective methods to eliminate the germs from the clothes. Give your clothes ample exposure to the sunlight, as the UV rays of the sun can kill all the possible bacteria and viruses present in your clothes.

Protect your home from germs. Pexels

Say Goodbye to Germs Today

There’s no doubt in asserting that your home is the safest place to reside. Protecting you from the cold, heat, and rain, your house keeps you from all the possible threats. But have you ever imagines that whether your sweet home is safe from bacteria and germs? Probably not, because though you clean your house, you cannot see the possibly harmful viruses. There are plenty of chances through which bacteria and germs can attack your home. From the kitchen sink to the toilet seat, every tiny corner of your home is brimming with bacteria that can make you severely ill.

A washing machine is one such item in your home that houses thousands of bacteria. Though with the advent of technology, the latest washing machines come with germ and dirt free technology and auto-clean feature, they cannot get rid of the germs completely. Various studies and research have found that washing machines can become a haven for bacteria. Though it’s your machine that cleans clothes, it is essential to understand that your washing machine needs cleaning too to remain bacteria-free.

The guide as mentioned above is everything that you would need to know about washing machine bacteria and the ways to steer clear from it. Prioritize your family’s health and make t a mandatory habit to clean your washing machine just like any other item in your house.