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14 Things That Get So Filthy They Need Cleaning At Least Once A Week

Your kitchen sink has A THOUSAND times more bacteria than your toilet.

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Alice Yoo / BuzzFeed

Listen, I get it — cleaning sucks. But after chatting with a germ expert on the dirtiest areas in common households, I am doubling-up on bleach and never complaining about chores EVER AGAIN.

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I recently spoke to Kelly Reynolds, an associate professor of environmental health at the University of Arizona, and she gave me a rundown on the filthiest household items and how often they should be cleaned. Brace yourselves.

1. Kitchen sink: every day

Get this: your kitchen sink has a thousand times more bacteria and germs than your toilet. Reynolds says that it's important to pay attention to your sink because most produce comes in contact with feces and pesticides (that's why it's important to wash it before consuming!). And of course, you use a sink to clean that produce — as well as dishes and items that have touched raw meats — so it should be a sanitary place to begin with. To ensure a clean sink, you should disinfect daily.How to clean: Reynolds says disinfectant wipes are a great way to get the job done. "They’re super convenient and they have ingredients to kill germs. If you’re cleaning with a just a sponge with no form of disinfectant, you’re actually spreading bacteria from place to place."
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Get this: your kitchen sink has a thousand times more bacteria and germs than your toilet. Reynolds says that it's important to pay attention to your sink because most produce comes in contact with feces and pesticides (that's why it's important to wash it before consuming!). And of course, you use a sink to clean that produce — as well as dishes and items that have touched raw meats — so it should be a sanitary place to begin with. To ensure a clean sink, you should disinfect daily.

How to clean: Reynolds says disinfectant wipes are a great way to get the job done. "They’re super convenient and they have ingredients to kill germs. If you’re cleaning with a just a sponge with no form of disinfectant, you’re actually spreading bacteria from place to place."

2. Kitchen counters: every day

Like your sink, your counters come in contact with tons of germs and should be wiped down after food touches them. How to clean: As a general rule of thumb, clean your kitchen counters with a disinfectant wipe or spray after cooking. So if you cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you should quickly wipe the counter down three times a day.
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Like your sink, your counters come in contact with tons of germs and should be wiped down after food touches them.

How to clean: As a general rule of thumb, clean your kitchen counters with a disinfectant wipe or spray after cooking. So if you cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you should quickly wipe the counter down three times a day.

3. Refrigerator: once a week

Refrigerators store a lot of uncooked foods, as well as spoiled leftovers. To keep bacterias from spreading to other foods, keep raw meats in sealed containers and keep an eye on leftovers. Any spills should be cleaned up immediately, but aside from that, Reynolds says it's good to clean out the fridge weekly. How to clean: Wipe down the shelves/drawers with a disinfectant wipe and throw away spoiled foods once a week. Think of it as a small extra step you do when unloading your weekly groceries.
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Refrigerators store a lot of uncooked foods, as well as spoiled leftovers. To keep bacterias from spreading to other foods, keep raw meats in sealed containers and keep an eye on leftovers. Any spills should be cleaned up immediately, but aside from that, Reynolds says it's good to clean out the fridge weekly.

How to clean: Wipe down the shelves/drawers with a disinfectant wipe and throw away spoiled foods once a week. Think of it as a small extra step you do when unloading your weekly groceries.

4. Floors: once a week

Mold, feces, and pesticides attach themselves to dust particles, so the dust you see around your house contains more germs than you'd think. In addition, dust mites flourish in carpets. People who suffer from asthma or bad allergies can be allergic to their poop (I know, I dare you to Google a picture of one) so it's important to pay attention to couch cushions and heavy linens. How to clean: Make sure to mop/sweep hardwood and tile floors weekly, and vacuum carpet, rugs, and cushions.
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Mold, feces, and pesticides attach themselves to dust particles, so the dust you see around your house contains more germs than you'd think. In addition, dust mites flourish in carpets. People who suffer from asthma or bad allergies can be allergic to their poop (I know, I dare you to Google a picture of one) so it's important to pay attention to couch cushions and heavy linens.

How to clean: Make sure to mop/sweep hardwood and tile floors weekly, and vacuum carpet, rugs, and cushions.

5. Bath towels: every three uses — so at least once or twice a week

Bacteria thrives on warm temperatures, water, and oxygen...all characteristics of a towel after it's used. The longer you wait to wash it, the more bacteria and germs build up. "The key is the drying period," Reynolds says. "If it's still wet the next time you use it, that's a clear sign there is still bacteria growing."How to clean: You should thoroughly dry your towel after every use, and wash after a few uses in hot water. Reynolds says to hang your towel in direct sunlight to ensure a quicker dry.
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Bacteria thrives on warm temperatures, water, and oxygen...all characteristics of a towel after it's used. The longer you wait to wash it, the more bacteria and germs build up. "The key is the drying period," Reynolds says. "If it's still wet the next time you use it, that's a clear sign there is still bacteria growing."

How to clean: You should thoroughly dry your towel after every use, and wash after a few uses in hot water. Reynolds says to hang your towel in direct sunlight to ensure a quicker dry.

6. Bathroom hand towels: every couple days

We already know that bacteria loves a nice moist towel. And hand towels see a lot of action, too, especially in bigger households. While bath towels are pretty personal, hand towels are used by anyone who uses the restroom, so it's good to be conscious of how many people come in contact with them.How to clean: Wash in hot water with other bath towels.
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We already know that bacteria loves a nice moist towel. And hand towels see a lot of action, too, especially in bigger households. While bath towels are pretty personal, hand towels are used by anyone who uses the restroom, so it's good to be conscious of how many people come in contact with them.

How to clean: Wash in hot water with other bath towels.

7. Toilet: once a week

This one seems pretty obvious, but clean your toilet often. "That pink biofilm that develops in the toilet bowl is a form of yeast that people are actually allergic to. And when you flush, those particles can spray up to six feet in every direction," Reynolds says. How to clean: Clean the seat and bowl with a disinfectant every week. To keep that nasty ring away and reduce how often you need to clean the bowl, Reynolds says to use bleach tablets.
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This one seems pretty obvious, but clean your toilet often. "That pink biofilm that develops in the toilet bowl is a form of yeast that people are actually allergic to. And when you flush, those particles can spray up to six feet in every direction," Reynolds says.

How to clean: Clean the seat and bowl with a disinfectant every week. To keep that nasty ring away and reduce how often you need to clean the bowl, Reynolds says to use bleach tablets.

8. Bathroom rugs: once a week

Reynolds says that a study conducted by the University of Arizona found that 36 out of 38 homes tested positive for MRSA, a drug-resistant strain of staph that's difficult to treat. And where in the house was this bacteria found? In bath mats. While our hands don't touch them often, our feet can stir up that bacteria and spread them around the house. Need I say more?How to clean: You should wash bathroom rugs in the hottest water, weekly. If your rug is not washable you can buy aerosol disinfectant sprays for the bathroom, but your best bet would be to purchase a washable rug.
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Reynolds says that a study conducted by the University of Arizona found that 36 out of 38 homes tested positive for MRSA, a drug-resistant strain of staph that's difficult to treat. And where in the house was this bacteria found? In bath mats. While our hands don't touch them often, our feet can stir up that bacteria and spread them around the house. Need I say more?

How to clean: You should wash bathroom rugs in the hottest water, weekly. If your rug is not washable you can buy aerosol disinfectant sprays for the bathroom, but your best bet would be to purchase a washable rug.

9. Sheets: once a week

Sheets accumulate a lot of filth in just a week. Think of all the sweat, oils, and bodily fluids that seep into the fibers of your sheets, not to mention the dust mites that love to feast on the dead skin cells your body leaves behind. Reynolds says it's important to wash them weekly, especially if you suffer from acne or asthma. How to clean: Make sure you wash sheets in hot water, but use minimal detergent, as it can cause skin irritation.
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Sheets accumulate a lot of filth in just a week. Think of all the sweat, oils, and bodily fluids that seep into the fibers of your sheets, not to mention the dust mites that love to feast on the dead skin cells your body leaves behind. Reynolds says it's important to wash them weekly, especially if you suffer from acne or asthma.

How to clean: Make sure you wash sheets in hot water, but use minimal detergent, as it can cause skin irritation.

10. Kids' toys: at least once a week

"Children's toys are easily contaminated with feces and cold viruses," Reynolds says. "So it's good to wash them weekly." This isn't all that surprising, but it's something that can be overlooked each week. Reynolds suggests buying toys that are easy to clean, including stuffed toys that are machine washable.How to clean: Combine warm water, soap, and bleach in a bucket and use it to wipe down plastic toys. "Bleach breaks down with natural light, so the toys are safe to use after they've been laid out to dry," Reynolds says.
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"Children's toys are easily contaminated with feces and cold viruses," Reynolds says. "So it's good to wash them weekly." This isn't all that surprising, but it's something that can be overlooked each week. Reynolds suggests buying toys that are easy to clean, including stuffed toys that are machine washable.

How to clean: Combine warm water, soap, and bleach in a bucket and use it to wipe down plastic toys. "Bleach breaks down with natural light, so the toys are safe to use after they've been laid out to dry," Reynolds says.

11. Washing machine: once a week

Yep, washing machines can be breeding grounds for mold and bacteria. "We know that all clothes and undergarments have traces of feces, so one soiled garment can contaminate your washing machine," Reynolds says. "It's important to wash your hands after moving clothes from the washer to the dryer."How to clean: Run a small load with whites, hot water, and bleach.
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Yep, washing machines can be breeding grounds for mold and bacteria. "We know that all clothes and undergarments have traces of feces, so one soiled garment can contaminate your washing machine," Reynolds says. "It's important to wash your hands after moving clothes from the washer to the dryer."

How to clean: Run a small load with whites, hot water, and bleach.

12. Makeup brushes: once a week

You should reeaaallly be cleaning makeup brushes daily, but I get it — that's unrealistic. But! Your face is covered in oils and dirt, which gets transferred to your brushes; not cleaning the brushes means creating a perfect home for germs to breed in. Reynolds notes this is especially important for people who are prone to acne outbreaks.How to clean: Use baby shampoo to clean out brushes and sponges. Work the shampoo through, rinse off, and then set out to dry.
Lokisurina / Getty Images

You should reeaaallly be cleaning makeup brushes daily, but I get it — that's unrealistic. But! Your face is covered in oils and dirt, which gets transferred to your brushes; not cleaning the brushes means creating a perfect home for germs to breed in. Reynolds notes this is especially important for people who are prone to acne outbreaks.

How to clean: Use baby shampoo to clean out brushes and sponges. Work the shampoo through, rinse off, and then set out to dry.

13. Cell phones: every day

Reynolds considers cell phones a "hotspot." In other words, they are frequently touched throughout the day and need to be disinfected regularly. Because of how often we touch our phones, it's common for them to carry around pathogens that can actually make us sick.How to clean it: Clean with a disinfectant wipe daily. If you're worried about damaging your phone, you can try a UV sanitizer box and use it weekly.
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Reynolds considers cell phones a "hotspot." In other words, they are frequently touched throughout the day and need to be disinfected regularly. Because of how often we touch our phones, it's common for them to carry around pathogens that can actually make us sick.

How to clean it: Clean with a disinfectant wipe daily. If you're worried about damaging your phone, you can try a UV sanitizer box and use it weekly.

14. Work desks: every day

Ok, I know this one isn't technically in your home. But it is a place you spend a ton of time, and it's an area that harbors lots and lots of germs. "Desks are active environments that are touched hundreds of times a day, and probably in between taking bites of food," Reynolds says. Desks are another example of hotspots (like phones!) so they should be sanitized daily. How to clean it: Use a disinfectant wipe or spray to wipe down your desk area.
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Ok, I know this one isn't technically in your home. But it is a place you spend a ton of time, and it's an area that harbors lots and lots of germs. "Desks are active environments that are touched hundreds of times a day, and probably in between taking bites of food," Reynolds says. Desks are another example of hotspots (like phones!) so they should be sanitized daily.

How to clean it: Use a disinfectant wipe or spray to wipe down your desk area.

And when someone is sick: CLEAN EVERYTHING MORE THAN ONCE A WEEK.

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Reynolds explains that if anyone in the house becomes sick with influenza, their infected germs will spread to 80 percent of commonly touched items in the house. We're talking light switches, phones, remotes — you get it. If this happens, double-up on cleaning items 1-14, and be sure to wipe down busy surfaces in your house with a disinfectant wipe or spray.

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