The 10 Dirtiest Things You Use Every Day

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Unless you're a certified germaphobe, you probably don't spend too much time thinking about the relative filthiness of items you use every day. And while it's not necessary to become obsessive about germs, it is a good idea to think about some of the high-touch items you use on the regular that could make you sick if you don't clean them from time to time. These are some of those items.


Your toothbrush

Well sure, you put the thing in your mouth twice a day (you are using your toothbrush twice a day, right? OK, good.). But, unless you've been sick -- in which case it's a good idea to disinfect it -- that's not the main reason your toothbrush is so germy. The bigger problem is that people tend to use the toothbrush and then put it away wet, and the moisture makes for a welcoming home in which bacteria like Serratia marcescens will happily settle.

And then there's the whole thing about your toothbrush being covered in poop.


The salt and pepper shakers

Salt and pepper shakers fall into the "things you always touch but never clean" category, so it makes sense that they'd be pretty filthy. Indeed, a 2008 University of Virginia study found that shakers universally tested positive for the cold virus. To make matters even grosser, consider this: many people, while cooking, grab for salt, pepper, and other seasonings immediately after handling raw meat, transferring bacteria like salmonella and E. coli.

Denys Prykhodov/

Your phone

You probably already know that your phone is disgusting. I mean, you look at it and see the streaks left behind by your greasy fingers, the dotting of dried spittle from the sneezing fit you had when you were sick, and the crusted-on ketchup from that late-night McDonald's binge.

You also know how much time you spend sitting on the toilet, scrolling through Instagram. Clean the phone.

Flickr/Rico S

Your keyboard

Much like your phone, the keyboard is an item you're likely in contact with every day. So unless you're an entirely diligent hand-washer, you've never coughed or sneezed in your life, and you never, ever, ever eat Chinese takeout while playing Fallout 4, you definitely need to clean your keyboard.

Flickr/Niklas Morberg

The light switches

Here's a fun game to play! For one day, count the number of times you touch the light switches in your home. It's a lot, right? Right. Now ask yourself, "Self, when was the last time I cleaned the light switches that I'm touching all the time with my dirty hands?" And then think about all the other people in your household and how dirty their hands are. Right right. The light switches are covered in everything gross, definitely clean them.


Your seatbelt

Consider this scenario: you've pulled into a rest stop along the highway to use the bathroom and buy a bag of Doritos. Despite having washed your hands after relieving yourself, you've still touched the door handle, which is germ city. On the way back to your car, you tear open the bag of Doritos and start munching. You get in the car and put on your seatbelt, because you always wear one. Good for you!

I bet you don't even need to hear the rest of the scenario, but here it is: all those germs from the public bathroom plus all that Doritos dust was just transferred to the seatbelt. Multiply that by all the times you eat in the car or don't have the cleanest hands in the world and you've got one hell of a filthy seatbelt.

Flickr/Mary Hutchinson

The dish towels

Oh man, dish towels are a thing that don't get laundered nearly enough, and they are really revolting. The combination of drying your hands, your dishes, wiping the countertop, and whatever else it is that you're using your dish towels for leaves behind all kinds of bacteria, including, and most concerningly, stuff like salmonella, which loves to linger in kitchens where there's a lot of handling of raw chicken.

Flickr/faungg's photos

The faucet on the kitchen sink

A 2007 survey conducted by the Hygiene Council found that a typical kitchen faucet handle has 13,227 bacteria per square inch. That's a lot of bacteria! One of the primary culprits, which has the benefit of being something that can make you extra sick, is the transference of bacteria like salmonella from your hands, after, say, handling raw chicken, to the faucet handle as you turn it on to wash up post-food prep. Keeping an antibacterial all-purpose spray or wipes handy is a smart way to remind yourself to clean the faucet handle regularly.


Remote controls

Remotes of all stripes fall into the same category as light switches, in that they're things that everyone in the household is in constant contact with, but very rarely get cleaned. They also have a bit of the seatbelt in them... remember that Doritos dust?


Those throw pillows on your couch

Who doesn't love to take a nap on the couch while a football game or favorite episode of Real Housewives blares in the background?!? But when you nap, you drool, and when you drool, you drool onto the throw pillow you stuck under your head to get comfy. Unlike the pillows on your bed (which are also pretty nasty), throw pillows don't have the benefit of being covered in cases that are regularly laundered. Check the care instructions and clean throw pillows on a regular basis to keep them from becoming festering germ and mite pits.

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Jolie Kerr is a cleaning expert. Dirty dish towels drive her to distraction. Follow her: @joliekerr.