Study Finds That Your Apartment is Dirtier Than You Think

If you're living off-campus this year, you're probably enjoying your own kitchen and bathroom, as well as the freedom from the restrictions you had on-campus. You probably only share a bathroom with 4-6 people as opposed to 50 and, finally, you can keep a bottle of wine in your fridge. However, living off-campus means you also don't have someone else cleaning your kitchen and bathroom. Maybe you have a rotation cycle and you each take turns cleaning once a week or every few days. Sometimes you might forget or just half-heartedly slide your mop across the floor while you’re texting. But are we really cleaning enough? The NSF International recently released a health report on off-campus student housing and found that no, your efforts probably are not enough. During the study, students were first asked to rank which areas of their homes they felt were the most dirty. They ranked the following:

  1.  Dish sponge
  2. Kitchen sink drain
  3. Cell phone
  4. Shower/tub drain
  5. Bathroom doorknob
  6. Kitchen faucet handle  

Seems legit, right? However, after testing the homes, scientists found that the following were really the most germy:

  1. Dish sponge
  2. Shower/tub drain
  3. Kitchen sink drain
  4. Shower head
  5. Kitchen faucet handle
  6. Coffee maker

Yuck! If that doesn't make you want to throw your coffee maker away, here's exactly which bacteria they found: E. coli, coliforms, MRSA, and yeast and mold. If you've forgotten about the great Taco Bell E. coli scandal or, most recently, the Chipotle one, remember that E. coli is often associated with food poisoning and can cause vomiting, cramping, diarrhea and fever. E. coli was most often found in the kitchen, too. Yeast and mold can irritate allergies further and cause respiratory illnesses. In addition, MRSA is an antibiotic-resistant form of a staph infection and coliforms harbor disease from fecal origins. Ew. If you're about to go deep-clean your apartment, but don't know where to start, the NSF International has several recommendations for those most germ-filled areas. You should microwave your dish sponge daily for 2 minutes to kill pesky germs and then replace it every week. The interior and bottom of your sink should be disinfected each week, and you should disinfect your faucet handles daily. If you've begotten shower shoes, too, be sure to disinfect the bottom of your shower each week as well. Finally, take the extra minute to clean your coffee maker with soap and water after each use and each week do a deep-clean with a cleaning solution. Remember, germs like porous, moist surfaces, so if any surfaces in your apartment fit that description, make sure to clean them, too! Which means your beer pong ball and phone surface are probably good (though they might benefit from a cleaning every so often as well). Cleaning up your apartment doesn't have to be a chore, too. Have a cleaning day with your roommates, turn on some music and each take a room. You can design a fun wheel to decide who cleans which area and reward yourselves with some Cava later. Your body will probably thank you later.

Photo Credit: Cover, 1