• Dr. Tania Dempsey

The Hidden Bacteria Lurking in Your House


It’s unhygienic to put your handbag on the kitchen counter. Handbags collect bacteria and other pathogens very easily. As handbags are placed on dirty floors, get handled by dirty hands and even sit in the front of shopping carts where bacteria from food are growing, they pick up lots of different potentially dangerous organisms. If you then drop your contaminated handbag on to the countertop where you are preparing food, you are depositing all those bugs right into that food.

Studies have been conducted that take swab samples from various handbags to look at the types of germs that are found on or in them. The bottom of the handbag had the greatest amount of bacteria followed by the handle. The studies found E. Coli that causes diarrhea, MRSA that causes serious skin infections, and bacteria that can cause meningitis and sepsis, to name a few.


You should be regularly changing dish sponges because they can harbor bacteria and spread germs around your house. However, most people don’t realize that they should be changing their kitchen sponges very frequently to avoid bacteria.

Kitchen sponges should be sanitized daily because of how quickly they pick up dangerous bacteria. If you use the sponge to wash some utensils that were in contact with raw meat that was harboring salmonella, that salmonella can stay in the sponge and then be transferred to other things that the sponge comes in contact with. Sponges are also moist and damp, the perfect environment for bacteria and other germs to grow. Running the sponges through the dishwasher along with your dishes is a quick way to sanitize them. But even after a few days of use and with sanitizing them regularly, sponges should probably be replaced at least every 2 weeks or sooner if they start to smell.


Have you ever been grossed out by watching someone double dip at a party? There’s a good reason why you should take notice of that. When they take a bite of a chip and then dip it right into that guacamole, they are spreading tons of germs into that food. Food that touches their mouth will pick up the bacteria living in your mouth, and if that food is dipped into another food, like guacamole, the bacteria from the mouth will enter the guacamole and will be picked up by the next person who dips into it.


Your computer keyboard can get unhygienic so you should give it regular wipe downs. Computer keyboards can harbor more bacteria than a toilet. Many people eat while using the computer and touching food and then the keyboard can allow bacteria to grow. Also since your hands touch lots of surfaces during the day, you bring whatever you've touched back to the computer keyboard where it sits and collects over time. Sharing computers is even worse because now you have multiple hands that may not have been washed after a visit to the bathroom or after nose blowing, touching the same keyboard.


When you let your pet lick you, you’re letting them touch you with a tongue/mouth full of germs. So, just how dirty are cat’s and dog’s mouths? It is thought that cat's and dog's mouths are comparable to each other as far as the number of bacteria and other germs that live there. Their mouths are also comparable to our mouths, but the type of bacteria and germs can be different than humans. Both cats and dogs are known to harbor a particular bacteria called Bartonella, the agent that causes "cat scratch fever.” This bacterium is a dangerous one and can get transmitted through the animal's saliva through broken skin. If you have a scrape or cut and the animal licks you or even bites you, this bacteria (along with others) can enter through the skin and develop into an infection that has the potential for being chronic and debilitating.


Most people neglect to regularly clean their mobile phones. However, mobile phones are extremely dirty. Think about all the possible ways mobile phones become a breeding ground for germs. You touch your phone all day long with fingers that have touched many other dirty surfaces. You hold the phone up to your ear and rub sweat, makeup and even food particles onto the phone. You go to the bathroom and lay the phone down on the floor or toilet paper dispenser and now your phone essentially becomes a petri dish for germs.


Remember growing up when your Mom said to change your sheets every two weeks? It wasn’t just a lesson in discipline- your bed is a hotbed for bacteria! Every night as you sleep, you shed dead skin cells that dust mites and other bacteria can live off of. Athlete's foot and other skin- related infections can get transferred to bed sheets and then picked up by a different part of your body or transferred to your bed partner. Sweat, bodily fluids, dirt from your feet and cosmetics can permeate into the sheets, and even inside your mattress. Once there, bacteria and other germs have a breeding ground to multiply and spread.

#germs #bacteria