Lauren, 9, 7-year-old Samantha and 4-year-old James, are all part of the Little family who have a lot going on. Despite all the kid chaos, their mom Kelli does a remarkable job in keeping the kitchen spotless.
“It’s clean looking,” she said.
What you can’t see though, can hurt you. So the Littles agreed to a sort of germ checkup and allowed microbiologists from UT Health to swab their home.
University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston graduate student Doug Litwin arrived armed with cotton swabs and Petri dishes.
“This is where I would live if I were bacteria,” Litwin joked as he picked up the sink dish brush.
He swabbed the dish brush, the sink, a soccer bag—a dozen places in all, including Jame’s bathroom floor and toilet seat.
We also checked the dog bowl, and then sent the samples to UT Health Medical School to see what was germiest.
In just 20 hours we got our unappetizing answers. At the top of the list was the predictable bathroom floor.
“Holy gosh!” James exclaims when we show the children the slides.
Don’t just blame a 4-year-old boy, said microbiologist Dr. Heidi Kaplan, with the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Medical School.
“There’s a lot of aerolization when you flush a toilet, so actually the best thing to do is put the lid down.”
Second worse was the gym bag.
‘I think the one that surprised me the most was the gym bag. So the gym bag was almost had as many germs as the bathroom floor,” Dr. Kaplan said.
Number three was the kitchen sink.
Samantha giggled, “Disgusted!”
Turns out, there was one particularly bad culprit there. Dr. Kaplan said almost apologetically, “We found E. Coli bacteria. We did find it in a kitchen sink, I’m sorry to say.”
Food can contain salmonella and E. coli. In fact, your kitchen sink has 100,000 times more germs than your toilet.
Another surprise was the dog bowl. Smoky the dog ranked a relatively low number 9.
“He’s cleaner than our family!” Kelly Little said.
“They (dogs) are resistant to all sorts of the organisms that would cause us problems. You don’t see your dog having the cold or the flu,” Dr. Kaplan said.
All the germs they do live with, may give animals better immune systems. That underscores what Dr. Kaplan wants to emphasize.
“It’s not bad thing to think that microbes are your friends,” he said.
Kelli Little agreed.
“I think as a mom you have to accept you’re going to live in world of germs,” she said.
Try using a machine washable liner in a gym bag so you can launder it from time to time.
One tablespoon of bleach mixed with one quart of water can be used to clean your sink, faucet and basin up to twice a week. When you’re done, pour the solution down the drain to clean inside.
Sponges harbor lots of germs. You should rid them of bacteria every 3-5 days by either running them through a full cycle of the dishwasher or microwaving them on high for 1 minute. Just keep in mind it needs to be wet when you nuke it.
Lower the toilet lid before flushing to prevent water splatters.
Airing out your home for just a few minutes daily will help to let stagnant air out and fresh air in. Even in the winter, cracking your window a few inches to increase airflow is a good idea. This is especially important if someone in your home is sick.
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