A kitchen sponge can carry more than 134,000 bacteria per square inch, according to a 2007 survey funded by Reckitt Benckiser, the maker of Lysol, and performed by the Hygiene Council. Researchers swabbed 35 U.S. homes for bacteria in 32 different sites.

What makes a sponge so buggy? Using sponges for more than one purpose is common, and people tend to keep their sponges too long, allowing bacteria to multiply.

Remedy: Replace your sponge once a week or so, Bright suggests. Or put it in the dishwasher regularly or soak it in bleach for about 15 minutes.

Whether empty or full of dishes, the kitchen sink is a germ hot spot. People do a lot of food preparation there. That food can lead to contamination, with kitchen drains having more than 500,000 bacteria per square inch.

Remedy: The FDA suggests kitchen sanitizers or a homemade solution of one teaspoon chlorine bleach in a quart of water, then letting it sit on the surface you're cleaning for 10 minutes.

Both bathroom and kitchen faucet handles are germ-catchers. Kitchen faucet handles carried more than 13,000 bacteria per square inch and bathroom faucet handles had more than 6,000 bugs per square inch.

Remedy: Use a disinfectant cleaner spray every time you clean up. In the kitchen, that should be once a day. In the bathroom, at least once a week.

Your home office is germier than the typical work office. Probably people eat more in the home office, partially explaining the larger bug population.

Remedy:Use disinfectant at least once a week on home office surfaces.

The top germ winner in the Hygiene Council survey was the toilet bowl (but not the seat) with 3.2 million bacteria per square inch.

Remedy: Toilet bowl germs form a biofilm, that slimy layer that develops when bacteria attach to a support such as the bowl. Tackle that film with your chlorine bleach and water solution.

Lurking near the drain of the bathtub is nearly 120,000 bacteria per square inch.

Remedy: Give your bathtub a buff with bath cleaner or a chlorine-water cleaning solution mixed up at home.

The crud or soap scum that collects on your shower curtain probably Sphingomonas and Methylobacterium bacteria.

Remedy: Regular cleaning or replacement of the curtains is advised.

What are germs doing in your washing machine? Probably contaminating other clothes. Researchers at the University of Arizona found that intestinal viruses like hepatitis A are readily transferred from contaminated clothes to uncontaminated clothing during the washing.

Remedy: Bleach and drying time. The use of bleach reduced the number of infectious viruses on swatches after washing and drying.Putting clothes through the drying cycle helped reduce viruses, too. If you use the dryer, put it on hot. Separate adult clothes from kids' clothes.

It's supposed to clean, but your vacuum cleaner is also a source of contamination. It may contain coliform fecal bacteria and E. coli. E. coli can cause diarrhea and other health problems. Coliform bacteria don't typically cause illness, but are often found in the presence of other disease-causing organisms.

Remedy: Vacuum the cleanest areas first and the dirtiest last. And if you use a bagless vacuum cleaner, wash your hands afterward, since bacteria can remain in the receptacle.

In the mattress core there are all sorts of human secretions and excretions. Fecal matter as well as sweat and semen. Bedroom debris is probably one of the biggest causes of allergic rhinitis, as well as allergy from dust mites.

Remedy: Place an "impervious" outer cover over the mattresses and pillows. Wash bedding regularly in water hot enough to kill the bugs.
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