Your cutting board
University of Arizona researchers found that the average cutting board has 200 times more fecal bacteria than a toilet seat. A big culprit: raw meat, since many fecal 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 a gallon of water. For wooden boards, do the same but use two tablespoons of bleach per gallon 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
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
A load of underwear will transfer at least 100 million E. coli bacteria—the culprit behind diarrhea—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 color-safe bleach replacement. Here are some tricks professional housecleaners use to keep their own homes germ-free.