Top Spots for Bacteria at Home

More Bacteria in the Bathtub Than in the Garbage Bin, Study Shows

By Miranda Hitti
WebMD Health News

Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD

June 25, 2007 -- Your home may be germier than you think, new research shows.

Out of 32 places in the home, the top spots for bacteria are the toilet bowl, kitchen drain, kitchen sponge or counter-wiping cloth, bathtub, and kitchen sink., according to a new study.

But only 3% of Americans think they're more likely to pick up germs from their bathtub than from their garbage bins, a new survey shows.

The telephone survey included more than 10,000 people worldwide, including about 1,000 people in the U.S.

In the survey, few U.S. participants -- 5% -- answered "in the home" when they were asked where they thought children are most likely to catch infection.

While infections can happen anywhere, the home has plenty of places were bacteria roost, according to the report.

Top Spots for Bacteria

The study and survey come from the Hygiene Council -- which is funded by Reckitt Benckiser, the company that makes Lysol.

Researchers visited 35 U.S. homes, swabbing for bacteria in 32 locations in each home.

Here's how those spots ranked, in terms of the average number of bacteria per square inch. Spots with the same average number of bacteria have the same rank.

  1. Toilet bowl: 3.2 million bacteria/square inch
  2. Kitchen drain: 567,845 bacteria/square inch
  3. Sponge or counter-wiping cloth: 134,630 bacteria/square inch
  4. Bathtub, near drain: 119,468 bacteria/square inch
  5. Kitchen sink, near drain: 17,964 bacteria/square inch
  6. Kitchen faucet handle: 13,227 bacteria/square inch
  7. Bathroom faucet handle: 6,267 bacteria/square inch
  8. Bathroom sink, near drain: 2,733 bacteria/square inch
  9. Pet food dish, inside rim: 2,110 bacteria/square inch
  10. Kitchen floor, in front of sink: 830 bacteria/square inch
  11. Toilet floor, in front of toilet: 764 bacteria/square inch
  12. Kitchen countertop: 488 bacteria/square inch
  13. Bathroom countertop: 452 bacteria/square inch
  14. Garbage bin: 411 bacteria/square inch
  15. Dish towel: 408 bacteria/square inch
  16. Toy: 345 bacteria/square inch
  17. Kitchen tabletop: 344 bacteria/square inch
  18. Home office phone or refrigerator door: 319 bacteria/square inch
  19. Toilet seat: 295 bacteria/square inch
  20. Bathroom light switch: 217 bacteria/square inch
  21. Microwave buttons: 214 bacteria/square inch
  22. Kitchen chopping board: 194 bacteria/square inch
  23. Child-training potty: 191 bacteria/square inch
  24. Infant changing mat and infant high chair: 190 bacteria/square inch
  25. Kitchen phone: 133 bacteria/square inch
  26. Bathroom door's inside handle: 121 bacteria/square inch
  27. Toilet's flush handle: 83 bacteria/square inch
  28. TV remote control: 70 bacteria/square inch
  29. Home office computer keyboard: 64 bacteria/square inch
  30. Home office computer mouse: 50 bacteria/square inch

The CDC recommends washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water aren't available.

The FDA recommends mixing 1 teaspoon of chlorine bleach into 1 quart of water for a homemade sanitizing solution -- or using a commercial sanitizer -- to help keep kitchen surfaces clean.

SOURCES: News release, the Hygiene Council. CDC: "Clean Hands Save Lives!" FDA: "Can Your Kitchen Pass the Food Safety Test?"

© 2007 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.


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