You may think your house is clean, but beneath that gleaming exterior and pine-tree scent lurks a lot of filth. Filth like bacteria, mold and mites. Here's a list that will make you think twice before you call it "home sweet home."
No. 01 - You
At the end of the day, YOU are pretty disgusting.
Your body is home to a wide array of microbes, from bacteria and viruses to (perhaps even) bugs and parasites.
There are 10 times as many bacterial cells as human cells in the ecosystem that is your body -- and as many as 182 different species of bacteria live on your skin alone.
Yep, if you're looking for the biggest source of grossness in your home, you need look no further than your own fingers, feet and belly button, not to mention those disease-carrying mucous membranes.
Much of your own co-habitants are harmless to you, but can potentially cause problems for other humans. So, if you wanted to be super-safe, you could simply avoid all human contact.
Sounds like a plan.
No. 02 - Your toilet
OK, it's kind of a no-brainer: your toilet is disgusting … but not as disgusting as it could be.
At least it gets washed out with every flush. Still, everything that goes in there is really gross, and as a repository for pretty much all the fecal matter in your house, it really isn't the cleanest surface.
And what about the infamous toilet seat? Should you sit on it? Look, you probably wouldn't want to lick it, but a toilet seat is far from the dirtiest thing out there.
If your immune system is relatively healthy, you probably won't have to worry about any STDs, common colds or hepatitis viruses that may be lurking.
When it comes down to it, your own skin is pretty good at keeping you safe.
No. 03 - Your vacuum cleaner (and bag)
Your carpet is a perfect home for a lot of nasty stuff.
Wet shoes drag in moisture and dirt, spills lead to mildew and mold, bacteria breeds in the dark recesses. Carpets, particularly those of the wall-to-wall variety, can be pretty nasty: as many as 200,000 bacteria can lurk per square inch (remember that the next time you lie down on a rug).
And where does it all go?
Either in your vacuum's bag or out its exhaust. You throw that bag out, right? But what about the vacuum cleaner's brush? Do you ever clean that?
One study found mold, bacteria and fecal matter in those brushes. Ick.
What can you do? Well, you can clean the brush, invest in a vacuum with a HEPA filter, or maybe even attack things head on with a new vacuum that zaps all your filth with UV light right when it enters the brushes. Who knew vacuums were so high-tech?
No. 04 - Your loofah or washcloth or sponge
You need water to live, right? Well, so do bacteria and viruses.
Microbes generally like humid environments. They also tend to like to hide from the deadly UV rays in light. So what stays wet and has lots of little cavities that get nice and shady and dark?
Why, it's that sponge in your kitchen sink or the loofah in your shower.
Don't freak out too much. Much of the life growing in that loofah has ancestral roots on your own body, so you're pretty well acclimated.
In fact, some of it may be of the "good" kind of flora and fauna, the kind that fight off the bad guys and give your immune system a helping hand from time to time.
Still, a single bacteria cell can multiple into an army of a billion overnight, so maybe it's time to buy a new kitchen sponge, huh?
No. 05 - Your garbage pail
So, it makes sense, right? All the food scraps that you don't eat wind up in your trash.
If you had wanted this stuff to stay fresh so you could eat it, you would have put it in the fridge, but you didn't.
Now, at room temperature and with plenty of organic material to chomp through, bacteria and fungi thrive and your trash bin starts to stink. Spoilage is, in essence, microbe-caused decomposition and everyone knows that garbage pails are full of spoiled food.
So, thanks to those microbes, your trash now also contains a lot of sliminess and smelliness. Not to mention a whole lotta life-forms.
No. 06 - Your refrigerator
The whole intention of a refrigerator is to prevent grossness (in the form of spoilage and decay) … so why does yours sometimes smell so foul?
We all let things go and cold temperatures don't actually totally stop the spread of mold, bacteria and the like; they just slow them, since microbes move and reproduce a whole lot slower in the cold.
And, by the way, mold likes to move. So if you have some moldy strawberries in your fridge, there are probably mold spores floating around the air in there, ready to land on whatever else you put in there.
Now you know why plastic wrap is such a good idea.
No. 07 - Your drain
Drains are gross.
Hey, there's a reason plumbers cost so much. Some parts of your home, like drains, just act like giant incubators, as reservoirs for ick.
But what about drain bugs? It turns out your drains may not be quite as disgusting as you think. Most bathroom bugs enter through cracks, crevices and doors. They end up in bathtubs and kitchen sinks only because they get trapped and can't climb out.
Or, maybe because they smell that disgusting, rotting food that's trapped in your kitchen drain or (eek) garbage disposal. Might make sense to give that a good scrub - and make sure you use some bleach while you're at it.
No. 08 - Your toothbrush
Ick. It's probably not what you wanted to hear, but your toothbrush (and anything else left out in your bathroom) may be really, really disgusting.
The reason? That foul beast living next door to your toothbrush. That's right, it's your toilet.
If you don't close the lid when you flush, you can actually aerosolize all the filth (including fecal bacteria) that lurk in the ceramic monster.
And a toothbrush, with it's moist, bacteria-friendly environment and plenty of microbe-ready hiding spots in between its bristles, might be the home of a bacterium's dreams.
Please, just close the lid. Is it that hard to do?
No. 09 - Your sheets
Did you know that you shed as many as 1.5 million skin flakes every hour?
And do you know what really like skin flakes? Dust mites.
That's right, the disgusting, dead-skin eating, allergen-causing bugs are all over your bedding.
And if that's not bad enough, you know what's also possibly a bedfellow? Fecal bacteria.
Thinking that you'd better go home and wash your sheets, like, NOW? Well, be careful: you might want to leave out your underwear.
The washing machine itself can be a source of the above-mentioned fecal bacteria (from underwear and towels) and those germs can and will survive detergent, cold water and a dryer's heat.
To be safe, you can bleach the hell out of everything, scald it in hot water, dry it in the UV-rich rays of the sun and wash your underwear separately from your sheets and towels.
You can also invest in some silver or copper or bamboo-infused anti-bacterial sheets.
No. 10 - Your books and papers
Ever heard of book lice?
They live in paper, but they're not particular: they'll take flour, grain or cardboard if that's all you got.
Also known as psocids, the small, colorless insects feed on the mold and mildew that grow on books.
Relax, they don't bite humans …but they are really disgusting and can reach infestation proportions pretty quickly. How quickly? Well, parthenogenesis isn't unheard of in psocids, meaning the females can lay eggs without ever having mated.
It's kind of a favorable trait, if you're looking to build your population.