Germiest household item challenge

The winner is … Claire Ganter!

Congratulations to Claire Ganter, who won my recent Catching Health Facebook challenge!

Catching Health with Diane Atwood Facebook Challenge Question

 What do you think is the germiest item in your household?


  • Cell phone
  • Fridge handle
  • Computer keyboard
  • Litter box
  • TV remote
  • Kitchen sink
  • Kitchen sponge
  • Cutting board
  • Door knobs
  • Toothbrush

Correct answer:

Kitchen sponge

Kitchen sponge #1 Germiest item in the household

Followed by:

Kitchen sink

Kitchen sink #2 Germiest item in the household

And …

Toothbrushes in holder

Toothbrush holder #3 Germiest item in the household

In 2011, NSF International asked 22 families to swab 30 items in their homes. NSF microbiologists analyzed the swabs and came up with a top 10 list. Before the analysis was done, a member of each participating family was asked to rank which items he/she thought would have the most germs. Most picked bathroom items, but it turns out the  kitchen harbors more germs, with the kitchen sponge topping the list.

Volunteers Chose

Actual Findings

1.Toothbrush holder 1. Dish sponge/rag
2. Dish sponge/rag 2. Kitchen sink
3. Money 3. Toothbrush holder
4. Pet toy 4. Pet bowl
5. Kitchen counter top 5. Coffee maker reservoir
6. Bathroom door knob 6. Bathroom faucet handle
7. Kitchen sink 7. Pet toy
8. Pet bowl 8. Kitchen Countertop
9. Toilet handle 9. Stove knobs
10. Bathroom light switch 10. Cutting board

How to clean those items on the top 10 germiest list (courtesy NSF)

#1 Kitchen sponge

Place wet sponges in the microwave* for two minutes once per day and replace often – every two weeks or more as needed. Better options for kitchen cleaning are dishcloths, towels and rags. These items can be sanitized by washing on the clothes washer’s hot water cycle with bleach. Replace every 1-2 days. *When you use the microwave, be careful when you squeeze out the water — it gets very hot. Also, make sure the sponge doesn’t contain metal or plastic.

#2 Kitchen sink

Wash and disinfect the sides and bottom of the sink 1-2 times per week with a disinfecting cleaner. Sanitize kitchen drains and disposals monthly by pouring a solution of one teaspoon household bleach in one quart of water down the drain. Wash kitchen sink strainers in the dishwasher weekly.

#3 Toothbrush holder

If dishwasher safe, place the toothbrush holder in a sanitizing dishwasher and wash 1-2 times per week. If not, hand wash with hot soapy water, rinse, then wipe with disinfecting wipe 1-2 times per week.

#4 Pet bowl

Pet dishes should be washed daily, either in a sanitizing dishwasher or scrubbed by hand with hot soapy water, then rinsed. If handwashing, place the dishes in a 1:50 bleach rinse (1 cap bleach in 1-gallon water) and soak for about 10 minutes once per week. Rinse thoroughly and allow to dry.

#5 Coffee reservoir

Follow the manufacturer’s recommended cleaning instructions. A common recommendation is to clean by adding up to 4 cups undiluted vinegar to the reservoir, letting it stand for 30 minutes, then running the vinegar through the unit. This is followed by running 2-3 cycles of fresh water through the unit until the vinegar odor is gone. Most manufacturers recommend cleaning every 40-80 brew cycles or at least monthly.

#6 Faucet handles

Clean daily with disinfecting cleaner or disinfecting wipes.

#7 Pet toys

Hard toys can be gently cleaned with hot soapy water, rinsed with fresh water, disinfected with a mild bleach solution, then thoroughly rinsed to remove any residue. Soft toys can be washed with other laundry on the hot water cycle. Wash monthly or more often as needed.

#8 Countertops

Countertop surfaces should be washed daily. Once all food prep activities have been completed, wash the surface with hot soapy water, rinse with clean water, then apply a bleach/water solution. For specialty countertops, use the manufacturer’s recommended cleaning/sanitizing agent.

#9 Stove Knobs

Remove knobs, wash in hot soapy water, rinse well, let dry, then re-install once per week.

#10 Cutting boards

Place in the dishwasher after each use or hand wash with hot soapy water, rinse, then apply disinfecting agency such as a bleach/water solution.

Claire wins the prize

For giving the correct answer, lucky Claire gets a set of brand new kitchen sponges, courtesy of Catching Health with Diane Atwood! She’s wicked excited!

package of kitchen sponges, wrapped

Claire’s prize, all wrapped up and ready to mail


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