What is the dirtiest room in your home? (No pun intended)

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Keep your family well and your home clean by focusing on a few key areas, writes Catherine Nikas-Boulos 

Feeling a bit under the weather? Chances are the very place you choose to rest could be making you sick. The family home may be riddled with bacteria including salmonella and E. coli.The kitchen is the worst offender in the NSF International Household Germ Study with more than 45 per cent of kitchen sinks, 32 per cent of bench tops and 18 per cent of chopping boards testing positive for those bacteria.The report found warm and moist environments are breeding grounds for germs, while smooth, cold surfaces tend to harbour less germs. NSF’s analysis also found yeast and mould on the computer keyboard of 68 per cent of the family homes tested. But you don’t need to break out the chemical heavy cleaners to kill the bacteria.Jessica Bragdon, founder of Koala Eco, says they may be doing more harm than good.“More than 150 chemicals commonly used in our homes are associated with allergies, cancer, psychological disorders and birth defects,” she says.Instead, look for plant- derived products to do the job.“While these bacteria can be quite dangerous, the solution isn’t to douse them in toxic chemicals such as bleach or ammonia, which are known to be two of the most corrosive, toxic chemicals,” Jessica says.More: koala.eco 

BREATHING UNEASY
Hidden patches of mould can lurk in all different areas of your home, from your shower head to the window frames in your bedroom or on plasterboard in the basement. Mould can build up in damp areas, especially if there’s limited airflow in the room for the moisture to escape.More than seven million Australians have allergies, including asthma, which can be triggered when people spend more time indoors with mould, dust mites and other indoor pollutants. Mould exposure can also lead to nausea, headaches and nasal congestion.NSW Health’s advice on mould removal is to use a diluted detergent like sugar soap, or white vinegar diluted with water and dry the affected area with a microfibre cloth.Don’t brush off mould, which can release mould spores setting off allergies.Although it can be found almost anywhere, it needs moisture and nutrients to grow. The key to preventing mould growth is reducing damp and maintaining proper ventilation.Turn on exhaust fans, particularly when bathing, showering, cooking, doing laundry and drying clothes and open windows when weather allows to improve cross ventilation.More: health.nsw.gov.au 

HANDS-FREE FLUSH 
If you’re assuming the toilet seat is the germiest place in the house, then it’s time to reconsider. Scientists say there are far filthier places in our house, and the toilet has been unfairly been targeted. In a University of Arizona study looking into how diseases are transferred through the environment, the toilet seat was far down the list in a long line of culprits – but only because it is one room that is cleaned often. The study found that on the average toilet seat, there are 50 bacteria per square inch.“There are not many things cleaner than a toilet seat when it comes to germs,” says microbiologist Charles Gerba. “We should be more worried about other household items, it seems. Usually there are about 200 times more faecal bacteria on the average cutting board than on a toilet seat.”And keeping the toilet clean just got easier. Kohler has introduced a touchless flush toilet suite. The Elite model (RRP $1099) has a battery operated deodoriser plus LED night light.“T ModernLife back -to-wall Touchless Flush toilet suite is the next generation in hands-free technology,” says Kohler associate manager design consultant, Rachael Biggs.“A sensor beneath the lid of the cistern is activated by passing a hand over the top of it.”More: kohler.com.au 

DIRTY WASHING 
How would you feel about the spoon you just ate your breakfast with if you were told the kitchen sponge that washed it is 200,000 times dirtier than a toilet seat?“Always the dirtiest thing by far, is the kitchen sponge,” says John Oxford, professor of virology at the University of London and chair of the Hygiene Council.His latest study examined samples from homes in nine different countries, including Australia, and found that 21 per cent of “visibly clean” kitchen cloths actually have high levels of contamination. While it’s inevitable the sponge will get dirty, the NSW Food Authority says it’s imperative you clean sponges, scourers and dish brushes after each use.“Rinse them in hot water and wring out,” he says. “Alternatively, put them on a hot wash in the dishwasher.”Also, discard sponges, scourers and brushes when they show signs of permanent soiling.More: food authority.nsw.gov.au
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