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These Everyday Things Are Dirtier Than Your Toilet

Author: Jason Snyman
Date: 2018-07-06
Every single day, we interact with things far dirtier than a toilet. We put together a list of the biggest culprits out to get you.
The number of people who don’t wash their hands after using the toilet is unbelievable, so it’s little wonder why more and more people are becoming terrified of germs. We’ve all heard the stories about shopping trolley handles and escalator hand rails. We’ve also seen those people who hang around in public bathrooms waiting for somebody else to arrive or leave so that they don’t have to touch that door handle. It’s a reality – there’s a long list of everyday items that are so dirty it’ll ruin your appetite forever. Restaurant menus, contact lenses, handbags, wallets and purses. Doorknobs, steering wheels, ATMs and money. We could just stop right there. You know where this is going. To a dark place. But that would make for a really short read. Instead, here’s a list of other everyday items just waiting to give you E Coli.
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Smartphones and Tablets – Dirtier Than A Toilet

Hands up, who uses their phone while using the toilet? Don’t be shy… According to Reader’s Digest, a couple of years ago a group of British researchers swabbed 30 tablets and 30 phones and one office toilet seat. The toilet seat contained less than 20 units of Staphylococcus – clusters of bacteria which can cause severe stomach problems. Tablets, by contrast, had over 600 units per swab and phones had up to 140 units. An easy way to avoid falling ill from these every-day, all-day usage devices is to just leave them out of the bathroom completely. Also, screen wipes are a handy investment.  

The Coffee Machine

Oh, please say it isn’t so! Not the coffee machine. Not the fountain of lifeblood upon which our cheerfulness so heavily relies. The coffee itself isn’t the problem; it’s that it’s been pumped through all kinds of dirt in order to reach your cup. That clever one that says I Can’t Adult Today. You’re essentially spiking your morning brew with bacteria. A good way to get rid of this problem is to run a 50/50 solution of water and white vinegar through the system once or twice a month.  

Towels – More Sinister Than They Appear

These fluffy traitors. There’s no warning sign of disloyalty greater than the smell of a towel that’s been damp for a while. Many of us have experienced this. Towels are covered from top to bottom with fecal bacteria, dead skin and a host of other dark and unattractive things. Do not wrap this towel around your body. Do not embrace this double agent as a loved one. Dump it into the washing machine. Right this minute.  

Toothbrushes – The Devil’s Playground

Brushing your teeth often, and correctly, is essential to good oral health. The last thing you want to hear right now is that your loyal toothbrush has betrayed you. But, it has. It’s gone on over to the dark side, forming an evil alliance with your toilet. Every time you flush your toilet, fecal bacteria escapes and lands all over your bathroom. Including those nice, hospitable little bristles of your toothbrush. It’s a good idea to replace your brush every couple of months, get a cap for it and rinse it thoroughly before and after every use. Handy tip: some people soak their brush in their anti-bacterial mouthwash overnight.  

Television Remotes

Remote controls are the devil. They’re the Patient Zero of your sitting room, hosting all sorts of harmful bacteria harvested straight from your hands. Yes, this includes fecal bacteria. If you’re like most people who enjoy their dinner in front of a good TV show, chances are you’ll get some food on there as well, jammed right in between the buttons. Computer keyboards aren't much better. According to the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, a stomach flu outbreak at a Washington DC elementary school may have spread through unclean PC equipment, such as keyboards. Over 100 people fell ill. British researchers estimate that keyboards contain five times the germs of a toilet seat. Disinfectant wipes are your best friend in this war.

Carpets And Floor Mats

Carpets trap all of your dead skin cells – a real smorgasbord for bacteria. Adding to that, we’ve got pollen, dandruff, food particles, pet dander and all kinds of other tasty treats. About 200 000 bacteria live in every square inch of carpet – much more than your toilet seat. The bacterium included is your regular line up of baddies. E Coli. Staphylococcus. Salmonella. Your carpet needs a deep clean, done by professionals with the right equipment and cleaning materials, at least once a year. The bath mat in your bathroom is equally filthy. It’s a fair assumption that it’s dry and relatively clean. After all, you just got out of a shower and all you did was dry your feet. But the reality is that they’re a moist breeding ground for bacteria, planning on contaminating your entire bath room. Use a strong bleach wash to return your bath mat from quarantine.  

Your Kitchen, Right Now

Where do we even begin? A regular household kitchen is bad enough to bring the angry side of Gordon Ramsey out in anybody. Most of us just don’t realise this. Let’s get into the kitchen sponge. Just because these are used to wash dishes with soap doesn’t make them clean. It’s the exact opposite. Now, there are a number of tips and tricks and life hacks to keep these sponges clean, but in the end the best solution of all is simply throwing them away. Buy new sponges regularly and don’t use any sponge more than you have to. They’ll poison you, sooner or later. Likewise, switches and knobs such as those on your oven, kettle, toaster, light switch and even the faucet handles are teeming with germs. They’ve been waiting for you all day. To reach out, so confident and hopeful in your ways, to touch them and infect yourself. Skip those future trips to the doctor – disinfectant wipes and spray. Researchers at the University of Arizona also found that the average cutting board has 200 times more fecal bacteria than a toilet seat. The biggest culprit – raw meat – since a lot of this bacteria originates in the internal organs of animals. The knife leaves tiny grooves in this cutting board, and germs love them. The best way to clean the board thoroughly is to soak it in a solution of water and bleach, then rinse under clean water.  

Fitness Equipment

The biggest culprits here, as you might have suspected, are your running shoes and your clothing. Shoes are an absolute cesspool of bacteria, and anybody who has ever forgotten their sweaty gym clothes in their car on a hot day can attest to their destructive powers. Water, soap and thorough rinsing is your best tactic here. Followed by hygiene powder. Likewise, yoga mats are essentially a bed of bacteria. Enjoying those stretches? You’re way behind enemy lines. Grab some soap and give that mat a good scrubbing at least every full moon to keep the bacteria at bay. And now to the culprit least suspected of trying to harm you… Gym bags are an essential item in your fight for washboard abs. Unfortunately, they’re often overlooked on laundry day. When you really think about it, they carry your sweaty gym clothing around, and before you know it they’ve gathered up an army of germs. Just waiting to ambush you. When you wash your gym clothing, toss the bag in there with it.  

Headphones – Too Close For Comfort

Headphones are a staple in modern life. Music relaxes you, or gives you a boost to get you through the day. Plus, they help you avoid talking to other people. Unfortunately, like everything else on this list, they’re out to get you. And silly us, we’ve been putting them right into our ears, urging the bacteria to go on and explore our brains. Disinfectant wipes. No office desk should be without them.  

That Lemon Wedge In Your Drink

Lemons themselves have many antibacterial properties, but the wedges in your water at the restaurant are pretty dirty. According to the Journal of Environmental Health, of 76 wedges swabbed in 21 different restaurants, 70% contained disease-causing microbes. Those are exactly the kind of microbes you don’t want to be drinking.  


Oh, soft, comfortable friend – snuggle buddy – the pillow. Your pillow would surely never betray you, would it? Unfortunately, yes, your pillow just doesn’t love you back. All it wants to do is soak up your sweat and spit to breed bacteria. The only sure way to combat this is with anti-bacterial laundry cleansers. And on that note…  

Laundry Baskets

Laundry baskets are a great way to keep all your clothing in one place, instead of in small piles all over the floor. Many of us don’t realise that the laundry basket we use to carry our dirty, sweaty clothing to the washing machine is the often the same laundry basket used to carry all of our clean laundry afterwards. They’re gross, they’re damp, they gather grime – and the only way to fix it is to use disinfectant them with surface disinfectant spray. Likewise, any underwear you load into the washing machine could leave a bunch of E Coli behind. Front-loaders, with water settling at the bottom, are the worst of the lot. This could contaminate your next cycle. So, your clean laundry isn’t as germ-free as you’d think.  The only way to kill these germs in your machine is to crank the heat all the up and let it run a load of whites with some bleach.