It is natural for an individual to think that their home is a place of safety, a place where they can sleep peacefully and have little to worry about. What they don’t know is that their home is an ecosystem to many organisms that are not visible to the human eye. These microorganisms can range from being slightly safe organisms like bacteria to being dangerous organisms that can cause you harm such as viruses, fungi, and parasites. There are certain areas of a home where these rather dangerous organisms usually dwell.
“… dishwashing sponges contained the highest number of microorganisms, followed by toothbrush holders, pet bowls, kitchen sinks, coffee reservoirs, kitchen countertops, stove knobs, pet toys, and toilet seats”.
It is quite hard to discern good microorganisms from bad ones as they are invisible to the naked eye and people usually don’t have expensive microscopes lying around in their homes. Although, steps can be taken to make sure the amount of the bad microorganisms is lowered in the home it is important to: be knowledgeable on common harmful microorganisms, where to find them, and how to get rid of them.
It is quite difficult to differentiate a good microorganism from a bad one. Although there are many good microbes such as ones that allow for the unique flavors of foods like yogurts and breads, there are many bad ones with an example being the Nontuberculous mycobacteria, which is known for causing lung infections (Dunn). The Nontuberculous mycobacteria, also known as NTM, is made up of 180 different species and subspecies in which a majority do not have any effect on humans.
Some, on the other hand, can affect certain individual’s lungs when they are in contact with them causing disease.
If not treated right away, the individual will then be diagnosed with Nontuberculous mycobacteria pulmonary disease: “Without treatment, many people, but not all, will develop a progressive lung infection characterized by cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, and weight loss”. Staphylococcus is another bacterium that is not so good for you. This type of bacteria is usually present on the skin but does not really do anything until you have a cut or an injury that is accessible by the bacterium and then causes many sorts of infections. These infections are contagious and can be carried over from any contaminated object and easily be carried over to any other part of the body. The rather famous disease E. Coli is also able to be carried by a certain type of bacteria found in your home. “The communities were made up of one family of bacteria: Enterobacteriaceae. Yes, this family does include the dreaded E. coli, as well as Salmonella…”. One can get Salmonella if they eat foods raw, such as eggs, it is a common type of food poisoning.
Coli is also a famous disease as it made headlines on numerous news sources when it was found in the food supply of the popular Mexican fast food chain Chipotle. According to WebMD, E. Coli is for the most part harmless unless it is certain types of strains which can cause terrible outcomes such as diarrhea, pneumonia, intestinal damage, etc. A home can be compared to the outdoors, they are both dirty if not tended to and both contain dangerous organisms. There are certain areas of the home where bacteria like to hang around. “…areas, where food is stored or prepared, had more bacteria and fecal contamination than other places in the home. More than 75 percent of dish sponges and rags had Salmonella, E. coli, and fecal matter compared to the 9 percent on bathroom faucet handles” (Higuera). This is surprising to many people, as most people think that the bathroom is the dirtiest area of a home because that is where the process of excretion takes place and where most of the fecal matter would be flying around. According to the article.
“The 9 Dirtiest Spots in Your Home” by Valencia Higuera, the dirtiest spots in your home are: the kitchen, frequently touched areas like door knobs and switches, makeup bags, bathrooms, laundry, home office and living room, pets, as well as frequently touched personal items such as phones and keyboards (Higuera). The National Sanitation Foundation declared the kitchen to be the dirtiest area of a house. Sponges that are used to clean dishes carry a lot of germs and bacteria as they are cleaning off the remnants of food as well as the rags used to dry the dishes off. As stated above, just these two items are dirty enough to carry infectious bacteria and diseases. Other items/objects in a home that are prone to be infected with bacteria are items/objects that are frequently used such as cellphones, door knobs, light switches, keyboards, remotes, handles, faucets, etc.
Hands, which can carry tons of germs and bacteria when not properly cleaned, are always touching objects around the home, leaving them prone to become contaminated. Makeup bags are also areas that germs/bacteria like to hang around and they are known to cause eye infections (Higuera). The bathroom is like a plaza for bacteria and germs: “It’s no surprise that the place you scrub dirt and grim off your body holds bacteria. Due to the moisture from a hot shower, the bathroom is also a perfect place for germ growth” (Higuera). Pets also cause an impact on germ growth in a home, whenever domestic pets such as cats and dogs go outside, they will most definitely come back with bacteria and germs left on their fur/skin, which is inevitable.
It is common sense to clean your house when you see a mess, but it is a whole other story when it comes to cleaning the nooks and crannies of a home. The majority of the populous do not know of the rather bad, disease-inducing germs/bacteria lurking in their homes. It is recommended to always keep your home clean and always replace items in the kitchen and bathroom. Valencia Higuera from Healthline recommends that the average household should: change the dish towel a few times a week, wash your hands before and after dealing with food, clean sponges with warm water and bleach, always wipe off frequently used items like door knobs and personal items with disinfecting wipes, replace old toothbrushes, clean bathtub and toilet with bleach, and if you have pets, give them a bath when they go outside (Higuera). With these steps, not only will your house be squeaky clean, it will also be a germ-free zone.
Microorganisms can be good or bad, but who can tell the difference without a good microscope and knowledge on these small organisms? With the number of good bacteria found in a home, there is an equal number of bad bacteria or even more. There’s bad bacteria lurking in your homes that can cause infectious diseases like E. Coli or lung infections as it enters your lungs undetected. So, where can you find these terrible little organisms? Most predominantly, bacteria can be found in any area of the house where you touch a lot, such as kitchens and bathrooms. It is recommended to always clean off items that you use a lot whether that be a dish sponge or even a television remote. Did you hear the joke about the germs in your house? Never mind, you don’t want them to spread.