- What’s the dirtiest, germ-infested item in each room of your home? We asked a professional cleaner.
- Home expert Bailey Carson named four top culprits: remotes, sponges, bath mats, and pillowcases.
- Here’s how often you should be washing, cleaning, or replacing each gross item in your home.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The remote in your hand, the pillowcase on your face, the bath mat beneath your feet – some of the grossest things in our homes are the items we use the most and clean the least.
We asked professional cleaner Bailey Carson, home expert at the household services company, Angi, to enlighten us on what is likely the most germ-and-bacteria-infested item in each room of the house, and how we should be washing – or replacing – each one.
In the kitchen, your sponge can harbor hundreds of species of bacteria
Sponges are disgusting.
We fill them up with water and soap and rub them across all of our dishes to pick up germs and food remnants. We wipe them across our crumb-infested countertops and dining-room tables. It’s no wonder they’re the grossest thing in our kitchens.
Carson said kitchen sponges are a breeding ground for almost 400 species of bacteria that linger in their crevices.
“People often try to get the most use out of their sponges, and will only then throw them out once there is visible grime,” Carson said.
Others try cleaning their sponges, but Carson says this will only fester the growth of more bacteria.
Carson recommends swapping out your sponge for a new one every two weeks.
In the living room, the TV remote should be cleaned every day
The dirtiest object in most living rooms is often touched by all and cleaned by none.
Carson says that TV remotes are the grossest thing in most living rooms, even if your household doesn’t watch much TV. Oftentimes, everyone in the house touches the remote, and it’s often overlooked when it comes to cleaning, causing germs to build up over time.
To combat germ buildup, Carson recommends cleaning your remote once per day or at least once every few days using products with either bleach or alcohol. If you’re using bleach, mix four tablespoons into a quart of water for your solution; if you go with alcohol, use at least 70% isopropyl alcohol.
Remove the batteries from your remote. Then, dip a disposable cloth in your disinfecting solution and wipe down the outer shell of the object.
For hard-to-reach areas around the buttons, use a cotton swab dipped in the disinfectant.
“If there’s any stubborn debris lodged deeper into the keys, they can be dislodged with a dry toothbrush or a toothpick,” Carson said.
Once you’ve cleared all the remote’s nooks and crannies of gunk and germs, let it air dry before putting the batteries back inside.
In the bathroom, your bath mat is dirtier than the toilet
In the bathroom, Carson says the bath mat is likely to be the nastiest item.
“After every shower we step out onto our bath mat, allowing it to soak in any excess water or soap that might be dripping,” Carson said. “While this prevents our floors from getting damp, the reoccurring buildup of water when left untreated can lead to mold growth.”
If that wasn’t gross enough, the bath mat is also defenseless against bacteria spraying from flushing toilets.
People typically wash their bath mats once or twice a year, if at all, Carson says. But bath mats should be washed every few months to keep them mold and bacteria-free.
If your bath mat is machine washable, cleaning it is easy enough: just fold it in half and send it through the washer and dryer, Carson said.
If your bath mat is plastic or has suction cups, you’re going to need hydrogen peroxide or a diluted bleach solution, as well as a little elbow grease.
“Put the mat in your tub or large sink with the suction cups facing upward, rinse in hydrogen peroxide or a heavily diluted bleach solution for a few hours, then scrub with a bristle brush,” Carson said.
For nooks and crannies that are tough to reach with the brush, Carson recommends using a toothbrush.
Once it’s clean, hang up the bath mat to air dry in the shower.
Carson added a precautionary step to keep your bathroom clean: Close the lid on the toilet before you flush. This will prevent millions of bacteria from spraying onto handles, the floor, or the bath mat.
In your bedroom, dirt and dead skin cells linger in pillowcases
It’ll be hard to sleep easy after learning what the dirtiest item in your bedroom is, according to Carson.
“Pillowcases are actually one of the dirtiest items in your house,” Carson told Insider, adding that the cases can accumulate roughly three million bacteria colonies per square inch after just one week of sleep.
To ensure a safe and clean slumber, Carson says washing your pillowcases weekly will suffice.