07 August 2014

Germs lurk in unexpected places

Most of us, when asked, would answer that the bathroom, specifically the toilet, is the most bacteria-filled area in our home. We would however be wrong.


Think of what germs need to thrive: moisture, warmth and time. And they especially love areas that are soft, porous and at room temperature or higher.

Now what area in your home provides those perfect conditions? Leave your bathroom and follow us to the kitchen . . .

Did you know? Kitchen sponges may be the most bacteria ridden objects in the whole house. Why? The moist, micro-crevices that make a sponge such an effective cleaning device also make it a perfect environment for germs and more difficult to disinfect.

Finished using your kitchen sponge for the day? Sanitise it with a drop of Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Oil before putting away. Wipe down counters with a few drops of Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Oil to prevent transferring bacteria to your cloths and sponges.

Your kitchen sink. After the sponge, the second most germ-laden place in your house is the sink – even worse than the toilet. Keep a spray bottle of water with a few drops of Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Oil next to your sink and spritz it after each use, then wipe and rinse with hot water.

Shopping bags. So you’re environmentally conscious and either reusing plastic bags or taking your own foil-lined or fabric shopping bags to the supermarket.

Did you know? These bags can be a breeding ground for bacteria coming from the packaging material of perishable goods like meat? And where do we store these bags?  Yup, in the kitchen.

Some tips to protect your family:

•    Mark your bags for use by colour.

•    Do not pack fresh fruit or veggies in the bags used for meat or dairy products.

•    Regularly wash the bags with warm soapy water.

•    Add a few drops of Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Oil to your rinsing water.

•    Turn inside out and allow drying properly before returning them to your vehicle.

•    Smell the difference!

The handles of almost two-thirds of the shopping carts tested in a 2007 study at the University of Arizona were contaminated with faecal bacteria. In fact, the bacterial counts of the carts exceeded those of the average public restroom.

Ah! Nothing nicer than clean, fresh laundry . . . but is it really clean? Another surprising place where microorganisms accumulate is in your washing machine. In addition to mildew, that lingering moisture and warmth encourages the growth of E.coli, salmonella and other undesirable bacteria. Running a hot cycle with 20 drops of Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Oil once a month and leaving the lid open between loads will keep your laundry invisibly clean too.

Light switches. Everyone touches them frequently every single day, yet light switches usually get overlooked during cleaning. And that's why they may be hosting more germs than your rubbish bin.

And now to the bathroom. Where is your toothbrush? Oh yes, happily nestled in the toothbrush holder or lying on the side of the sink. Is it clean enough to go in your mouth?  Because germs linger and multiply in moist places that don’t get cleaned frequently, your toothbrush holder is another high-germ area.  

Did you know? You should always flush with the lid down. Charles Gerba, PhD, a professor of microbiology at University of Arizona in Tucson, says flushing the toilet with the lid up is not wise. "Polluted water vapor erupts out of the flushing toilet bowl and it can take several hours for these particles to finally settle – not to mention where," he says. "If you have your toothbrush too close to the toilet, you are brushing your teeth with what's in your toilet."* (That ends the "men like it up, women like it down" argument once and for all, doesn’t it?)
Using Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Oil to wipe down surfaces as well as clean toothbrush holders, soap dishes and sprayed into the toilet bowl will help control germ proliferation.

Did you know? The rhinoviruses that cause colds can survive up to three hours, so cleaning surfaces, taps, door and toilet handles with a natural disinfectant like Tea Tree oil may help prevent the transfer of germs to your hands.

The remote. The whole family handles the remote. Plus it’s regularly dropped on the floor, behind the couch and sneezed on. A University of Virginia study of cold viruses on household surfaces showed the surface of a remote control is the most bacteria laden. Half the remotes tested were positive for cold viruses.

Hotel bathrooms. We know this is not something you want to think about when you’re travelling but a study by the London School of Hygiene found that light switches and TV remotes in hotel rooms were ten times dirtier than the average toilet bowl rim. Up to 60% of them were heavily contaminated with faecal organisms. That’s why your little bottle of Tea Tree oil should always travel with you.

A few drops on a wipe or even a spare damp hotel face cloth can be used to wipe down those light switches, door and tap handles in the hotel room and bathroom. And a few drops splashed onto the shower floor will help sanitise it and prevent contagious foot fungal infections.

Your cell phone goes where? Our phones go everywhere with us. To work, meetings, restaurants, bar, our children’s schools, public bathrooms, the supermarket checkout counter. In fact, where have you not put your phone down?

And then it goes in your hand, against your cheek, next to your mouth and against your ear. Look at the keypad and you’ll see traces of make up (if you’re a woman) and general dust and dirt. 

You won’t see the millions of living bacteria and germs, though. Disinfect your phones regularly with a slightly damp cloth containing a drop or two of Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Oil. Do it before you go to sleep, you’ll say good morning every day to a clean, sanitised phone.

Ladies where is your handbag? Wherever you put your bag down, bacteria are waiting to hop onto it and follow you home. This simple act is the leading cause of E.coli and salmonella infection.  

At a restaurant. What’s on the menu? Have you ever seen anyone wash off a menu? Probably not. A study in the Journal of Medical Virology reported that cold and flu viruses can survive for 18 hours on hard surfaces. If it's a popular restaurant, hundreds of people could be handling the menus – and passing their germs and various other nasty bacteria on to you.

Never let a menu touch your plate or silverware, and wash your hands after you place your order. Also, think about the bacteria left on condiment bottles in a restaurant. A couple of drops of Tea Tree oil rubbed onto your hands can quickly stop bacteria on menus and salt and pepper bottles from using your hands as a fast track to your gut.

The cash-less world. Just because you aren’t using bacteria-laden money that’s passed from hand to pocket to purse to hand doesn’t mean you’re safe from bacteria like E.Coli. ATM and store credit card machine keypads also harbour more bacteria than a public toilet. That person in the ATM queue ahead of you who just coughed all over the machine left you a lovely germ-laden gift on those buttons.

*WebMD: Germs in the bathroom


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