Let’s start with my confession. I am not a germaphobe, OK? Sometimes my family wonders about that, but the fact is, there’s a reason for my aversion to germs: I can’t afford to get sick. Bill Gates can get sick. I have bills to pay.

So when I discovered that my home probably contained dozens of items and places that were more germ-ridden than a bathroom, my “I can’t afford to get sick” radar went on HIGH ALERT!

I decided to investigate this for myself. Bravely, I became my own germ-detective, armed with nothing but a bottle of hand sanitizer – to investigate the Scene Of The Grime.

Here’s what I learned. (It may surprise you!)

The bathroom is the obvious first stop. But it’s not necessarily as germ-laden as “germ aware” people might think. The surfaces, on a good day… in a model home…are hard and dry – and bacteria doesn’t grow that easily in a dry environment. The usual suspects like bacteria, viruses and mold need moisture to thrive. That’s the good news. Here’s the bad: if your bathroom tends to accumulate wet towels, splashes of water, and drips on the floor – at least now you know the truth. And I know the truth. But I’ll never tell.

The toilet? That’s another matter, or shall we say, ‘fecal’ matter…One suggestion here – close the lid when flushing. A microscopic flurry of particles, caused by the turbulence of flushing the toilet – will fling tiny bacterial particles around the room hither and yon – onto places like – well, your toothbrush, for example. Ok, moving right along…

The germ detective moves into to the kitchen. And here, on the counter – for all the world to see – is a sponge. I pick it up and observe with my keen eye. What could be wrong with a sponge, you ask? Plenty! Innocent-looking, and useful, too…But wait! The Germ Detective is not so easily fooled. Kitchen sponges, dishrags and their ilk are on a germ detective’s most wanted list. Here is where e.Coli and Salmonella hang out. And they are waiting for you.
And here is where they feast on food remains while creating a virulent microcosm of destruction. But we – la-la-la-la, wipe our counters down, and then we la-la-la-la, spread it all around, and just for good measure we lalalala wipe off the stove. Good thing we can’t see what’s brewing all over the kitchen now…

Is there a solution to this pollution? Why yes, there is. To prevent the Attack of the Sponge – or the Return of the Attack of the Sponge – or the Revenge of the Sponge — The USDA recommends using the dishwasher or the microwave (1 to 2 minutes) so that you can safely say – ha! Take that, you evil beast! Nuked you!

Other hot spots turn out to be salt and pepper shakers, bathroom faucets, TV remotes, refrigerator door handles and basically all door knobs. We will take these on in further posts. Right now, I’m hanging up my germ fighting gloves for the day. It’s been brutal.