Hidden Germs

WHERE TO CATCH HIDDEN GERMS RED-HANDED

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Germs are everywhere. Unless you're living in a Level-4 biocontainment facility, there are germs on the surfaces of everything in your house. Bacteria, viruses and molds are crafty at finding hospitable environments to hang out. They like it moist and dark and can hide in plain sight, sometimes in the most unlikely of places.

Here's where you can catch hidden germs red-handed:

On the bottom of your purse, briefcase or backpack
It's not just a used tissue that's the issue, but also what gets dragged in from the outside. Our bags go with us everywhere and come in contact with germs on bathroom floors and restaurants making them the perfect vehicle for hitchhiking germs. To avoid bringing them into your house place bags on hooks when possible and when you come in the house leave at the doorway and not on the kitchen table.

In your make-up bag
Anytime we use make-up, be it mascara, lipstick or a compact, the germs on our hands can contaminate it. Make it a practice to periodically wash the outside of cosmetics cases and make-up bags. And throw out make-up that is old, especially anything that is applied to the eyes, that is sure to be a bacteria bonanza. Definitely resist using testers in the store or sharing make-up with friends.

On your remotes and phones
Before you grab a handful of walnuts and the remote to turn on The Dr. Oz Show, take a look at the keypad. How many people in your house touched the remote today? Unless everyone washes his or her hands each and every time they touch it, the remote is a breeding ground for germs. Take a not too moist disinfecting cleaning cloth to all remotes and phones and everyone should wash their hands or use alcohol-based sanitizers before (and after) touching them.

On your computer and keyboards
Take a look around at all the electronic devices you touch over the course of the day. You may be the only one touching your keypad but that doesn't mean it isn't riddled with germs. Each time you shut down, take a cleaning cloth to the keyboard and mouse. If you are willing to make the investment, there are UV disinfecting wands available.

On the spice rack
We don't think much about cleaning the outside of the spices used during cooking. However, how many times have you touched raw chicken and then grabbed the salt and pepper shaker to season? Without cleaning afterward, this is a recipe for disaster. Remember to wipe down routinely used spices after use.

In your sponges
The moist nooks and crannies of a wet sponge are a hotbed for germs and probably the most contaminated place in your house. We move sponges from surface to surface dragging everything inside to a new location. Replace old sponges monthly and put them in the microwave for a few minutes at the end of each day.

On anything with a handle
This may seem like a no-brainer but how many people clean their light switches? Take a walk from room to room and mark each handle you touch with a piece of tape. Then go back and clean that surface. That includes that handle on the refrigerator, dishwasher and stove. If you have exercise equipment and stair rails, clean those surfaces as well.

On the arms of furniture and chairs
One of the first places you land at the end of a long day is in the comfy old chair in the den. Wipe down the arms and rails of dining-room chairs and other frequently used un-upholstered furniture.

On shoes and paws
Swap your outside shoes at the doors for indoor slippers. This way you aren't tracking in dirt and pesticides from the lawn and street. If you have a pet that needs to go out, wipe down his paws before he comes back inside the house.