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10 Gross Things In Your Home That'll Make You Think, "I Live Like This???"

[To the tune of "Shots"] Germs, germs, germs, germs, germs, germs — EVERY SURFACE.

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Before you become a full-blown germaphobe, you should know that not all germs are bad for you.

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Exposing yourself to germs can actually help boost your immune system and maintain good gut bacteria. The lil' buggers you should be avoiding are pathogens. My personal bible, Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House by Cheryl Mendelson, describes pathogen as the bacteria, viruses, and fungi (like salmonella, strep, and staph) that lurk on surfaces in your home and cause disease and sickness, including food poisoning, skin infections, sore throats, and pneumonia. That's what we'll get into as you keep scrolling. Try to remain calm.

1. Your refrigerator.

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Sure, we all "clean our fridges," but actually gettin' down and dirty inside those drawers where you keep your fruits and veggies is crucial. Why? Well, your produce can carry pathogens like salmonella, E.coli, and listeria, the latter of which killed someone and led to a massive Dole lettuce recall in 2016. So, according to Mendelson, you should clean your fridge, especially those drawers, with hot, sudsy water and baking soda (use about four tablespoons per quart, which will add some deodorizing power) weekly and then wipe them dry. You should also wash your produce when you get home from the grocery store before storing it away.

2. Your sponge.

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Not to be dramatic, but your sponge is a COMMUNITY OF FILTH. A microbiologist at the University of Furtwangen in Germany and his team identified 362 DIFFERENT SPECIES of bacteria living within the 14 used sponges they tested, including bacteria that could give you pneumonia. Do yourself a favor and replace your kitchen sponge every week. Or, ditch that dirty thing and try an alternative like these highly rated net cloths on Amazon that are quick-drying (less opportunity for bacteria to grow), durable, and only $4.16.

3. Your blender.

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Blenders might seem like the ~picture of health~ since they're so often used for green smoothies and protein shakes, but if you're not cleaning them after every use, they're most likely building up lots and lots of bacteria down below. All those crevices at the bottom of your blender collect liquids that form puddles of microorganisms like salmonella and E.coli. Steer clear of that mess by taking apart your blender after each concoction you make and cleaning all the pieces.


4. Your sheets.

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This probably won't come as a surprise, but your sheets are basically an amusement park for dust mites, which are microscopic bugs that feast on the dead skin cells your body leaves behind. Fun, right? If you have acne, allergies, or asthma, they're likely making your symptoms worse. Be sure to wash your sheets weekly in hot water and dry them completely to avoid any germs that love moisture. A couple of other tried and true tips? Air out your bedroom daily to get rid of any festering bacteria, and maybe don't sleep naked all the time (UGH) since that's a surefire way to spread bacteria lurking on your body.

5. Your mattress.

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Your mattress is nasty as hell, which isn't hard to believe considering you spend a third of your life transferring all of your bodily fluids and skin flakes and oils onto it. Oh, and don't forget about those dust mites and allergens that build up naturally! According to Mendelson, a good way to care for your mattress is to vacuum it when you change the cover. Vacuum the cover when you change the mattress pad. And vacuum the mattress pad when you change the sheets. You get the idea. You might also drag your mattress outside on a warm sunny day for an airing twice a year, leaving it in the sun for at least three to four hours.

6. Your toothbrush.

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THROW 👏 IT 👏 OUT 👏. Your toothbrush carries hundreds of microorganisms that can cause everything from tooth decay to the common cold to strep. You are literally scrubbing your mouth with bacteria. So, yeah, according to the American Dental Association, you should go ahead and replace your toothbrush every three to four months, don't share it with anyone, and let it air-dry instead of keeping it in an airtight container, which only locks in mold. Also, flush your damn toilet with the lid closed — it can spray three to six feet in every direction. You do NOT want that literal shit splashing onto your toothbrush.

7. Your bath mat.

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You may be clean when you get out of the shower, but when you step onto your bath mat dripping wet, you're turning it into a hot bed for pathogens. The moisture your bath mat collects, coupled with all of the bacteria your feet spread to it from various parts of your home, allows infections like MRSA — a strain of staph that's difficult to treat — to develop on it. Aim to wash your bath mat weekly in hot water and allow it to dry completely. If your rug isn't washable, get yourself some aerosol disinfectant spray, but you'd be wise to go for a washable rug. Also, try to dry off before you step out of the tub so your mat doesn't get soaked after every shower. If it never has a chance to dry, the pathogens will keep on comin'.


8. Your shower head.

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Remember when I said you were clean when you get out of the shower? LOL JK EVERYTHING IS DISGUSTING. Even your shower head, the thing that helps you scrub down your filthy human body, collects tons of harmful bacteria, specifically Mycobacterium avium. That's a fancy name for the type of bacteria that, if inhaled or swallowed, can cause lung infections or pulmonary disease, particularly in those with weak immune systems. Clean your shower heads, people!!!

9. Your cleaning products.

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This might seem counterintuitive, but your cleaning products could actually be getting you sick. Many of them are full of chemicals that can irritate your skin, damage your kidneys and liver, and harm your brain and nervous system. Look out for your body while you clean by wearing gloves, opening your windows, or, you know, not using those products. You can swap 'em out with eco-friendly cleaners, or use stuff you probably already own, like baking soda for scrubbing surfaces and a mix of vinegar and water for cleaning glass. Above all, you should always read labels and, according to the Environmental Working Group, try to stay away from cleaners with these potentially dangerous ingredients:

• 2Butoxyethanol

• Alylphenol extholytes

• Dye

• Ethanolamines

• Quaternary ammonium compounds

• Pine and citrus oil, which react with air to form formaldehyde and increase asthma risks

10. Your vacuum.

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If you're not regularly cleaning out your vacuum filter, there are probably bacteria and microbes flying around your home like total menaces, provoking your allergies and inhibiting your breathing after they're released in exhaust air. But! You can solve that problem easily by cleaning your filter often, opening your windows while you vacuum (and maybe wearing a mask too), or buying a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter for your vacuum, which greatly reduces the amount of pesky microbes in the air and up your nose.