The 5 Biggest Bacteria Hot Spots

You may want to think twice about how you store your toothbrush, where you set your purse, and how often you replace your mascara. Research shows that billions of germs could be lurking in these hot spots—and making you and your family sick. Here, uncover top five secret hiding spots for germs, and learn what you can do to keep bacteria at bay.

Time to Come Clean

Hot Spot: Your toothbrush.

The dirty truth is that every time you flush the toilet, your toothbrush gets sprayed with bacteria-and there's certainly plenty of these little guys to go around. According to experts, the average toilet bowl contains 3.2 million germs per square inch, and when you flush, these germs are propelled as far as six feet.
The Solution: Keep your toothbrush as far away from the toilet as possible, or hide it away in the medicine cabinet.

Hot Spot: Your kitchen sponge.

Numerous studies show that sponges are one of the most contaminated objects in the home and can harbor billions of bacteria. They could even be infested with staphylococcus or salmonella, which can cause symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea if consumed.
The Solution: According to an article published in The Journal of Environmental Health, dampening your sponge with water and then putting it in the microwave for two minutes will help eliminate the germs that lurk inside the crevices. Some experts are skeptical, though, claiming that it's better to rinse sponges with soap and water and then keep them out of the sink so they can dry out between uses. Either way, it's important that sponges be replaced every few weeks in order to prevent excessive bacteria buildup.

Hot Spot: Your purse.

According to researchers at Nelson Laboratories in Salt Lake City, women's purses may carry a host of nasty bacteria including salmonella and E. coli, which can lead to gastrointestinal and eye problems. And here's something you may not want to know: Researchers found evidence of trace fecal contamination on the majority of purses tested.
The Solution: Avoid placing your purse on the floor of a train, bus, car, or public restroom. Also, get in the habit of wiping yours down with antibacterial wipes at the end of each day. If your purse is washable, toss it in the washing machine every couple of weeks on a gentle cycle.

Hot Spot: Your office desk.

According to a University of Arizona study, the average office desk contains 20,961 germs per square inch. The worst desktop offenders? Phones, computer keyboards, and mouses, all of which can serve as a petri dish for bacteria and the viruses that cause colds and flu.
The Solution: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC), you can help keep desktop germs to a minimum by wiping down the desk with disinfectant and refraining from eating at your desk.

Hot Spot:Your makeup.

You might think that tube of lip color is just divine, but there may be more to your makeup than meets the eye. Cosmetics, as well as applicators like sponges and brushes, typically harbor tons of bacteria, which could lead to eye and skin infections.
The Solution: The American Academy of Dermatology recommends replacing powders and eye shadows every two years, foundation and lipstick every year, and mascara every three months. Applicators should also be washed regularly with soap and water.