Whether you’re a college student cramming for finals or a busy mother juggling multiple responsibilities, chances are there are a few household items you missed during regular (or irregular) cleaning sprees. In fact, there are several items in particular that are very rarely replaced that actually contain the most bacteria. Allowing these colonies of fungus and bacteria to grow to dangerous levels can have a significant impact on you and your family’s health. Here are a few of some of the dirtiest and disease-ridden items you should clean or replace immediately. Germaphobes should proceed with caution. 



In a constantly damp environment surrounded by organic matter, bacteria can grow faster than you’d like to believe. With both of these qualities, sponges are naturally one of the best breeding grounds for bacteria and should be replaced at least twice per week, if not weekly. In fact, the results of one study showed that sponges carry significantly more disease-causing bacteria than your toilet seat and could even get worse if cleaned. Think about that for a second.


This next item on the list is here for similar reasons as the sponge, but can extend past your kitchen to your bathroom sinks as well. A study published by the NSF Public Health and Safety Organization indicated that 45% of sinks examined contained bacteria including Salmonella and E. coli. Make sure to regularly clean your sinks to avoid the inevitable stink that will develop. You can opt for natural cleaners like combining baking soda, vinegar and lemon.


This next item is something you interact with multiple times a day yet don’t realize it: countertops. Whatever the material may be, 32% of countertops were teeming with Salmonella and E. coli. This means that whatever you place on them may also be hosts for the nasty invaders. Make sure to wipe your countertops every night before bed with non-toxic and natural cleaners to prevent bacteria growth and infesting cockroaches.


Warning: this next one might gross you out the most. While you could make the case that most items in your bathroom are pretty germy, your own toothbrush is definitely one of the worst. Most dentists will suggest changing your toothbrush every three months to prevent bacteria from growing on the bristles and taking that daily ride right into your mouth. If that didn’t convince you, consider this: the average toilet sprays everything within five to six feet with fecal matter during each flush. Old toothbrushes should are also less effective at cleaning your teeth properly and should be regularly replaced for this reason alone. Pro tip: buy toothbrushes in bulk so you replacing it won’t feel like another chore. 

Congratulations! You made it through probably the most disgusting piece of writing you’ll read all day. But understanding what items and areas in your house harbor the most bacteria can help keep you and your family sickness free during the coming colder months when the immune system is compromised. And as always, make sure to opt for natural cleaners that don’t have any artificial or floral scents, as these can aggravate allergies. Here’s to staying pathogen-free!