17 Surprising Things That Are Dirtier Than Your Toilet


What’s dirtier than your toilet? That sounds like a beginning of a joke, but in reality, it isn’t funny. The answer is just about everything. Germs and bacteria are found everywhere, even on toilet seats, but to a much lesser degree. Why?

Well, we humans are actually pretty good at keeping the seat clean for one and believe it or not, there just aren’t that many microbes on the human body that actually touches the toilet. (Your thighs have fewer bacteria than your hands.) Now, what you are about to read may disturb you.


1. Bathtub

A photo of a contemporary bathtub.

Source: Houzz

Surely, the bathtub, the place where you go to get clean, must be cleaner than the toilet right? Wrong.

According to Web MD, a recent study found that staphylococcus bacteria was found in 26% of the tubs tested. Whirlpools are even worse. In a study of 43 whirlpools, all 43 contained mild to dangerous levels of bacterial growth.

It is recommended that you clean and disinfect your tub with bleach or household cleaner after bathing and then dry the surface with a towel.


2. Showerheads

A running showerhead.

Source: GPSneaker

Even in the shower you’re not safe. According to a 2009 study by researchers from the University of Colorado, showerheads may actually hold on to infectious bacteria.

Biofilm was collected from 45 showerheads in nine different U.S. cities and then were analyzed. What they found out was that the biofilm contained Mycobacerium avium that was 100 times greater than found in water itself.

Infections can occur in patients who have challenged immune systems such as emphysema or lung disease. Some of the particles that make their way through the showerheads are small enough to be inhaled. Researchers recommend replacing showerheads that are dingy and stick with metal models instead of plastic.


3. Toothbrushes

Four toothbrushes positioned side by side while one of them is tipped over.

Source: LowerySmiles

Men’s Health magazine reported that the average toothbrush contains more than 10 million bacteria including E. coli, Staph and fecal germs, this is according to a study performed at the University of Manchester in England.

Now, though the toilet is cleaner than you toothbrush, don’t keep the toothbrush near it. When you flush, fecal matter can travel as far away as six feet. Other tips include not using a cover when you are home (microorganisms are likely to grow in a moist environment) and disinfect the brush between uses by letting it soak in mouthwash for about 20 minutes.


4. Pillow

A photo of fluffed up pillows on a bed.

Source: SleepingLikeaLog

In a study reported by Men’s Health, Rob Dunn, Ph.D analyzed samples collected from 1,000 homes and found “tens of thousands of fungal species in the samples…”

And since we shed thousands of skin cells a minute, there is no surprise that our pillows are covered with thousands of skin cells. This is only a problem in that it increases the chances of feeding dust mites. Something you might be surprised to find on your pillow: fecal matter. “The amount of fecal matter we deal with today is relatively tiny,” says Dunn.


5. Mattress

A bare mattress

Source: TheNaturalSleepStore

This won’t make you sleep any better tonight. Some studies have suggested that a large number of germs like to live within the fibers of your mattress.

Some, including Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aerugionosa, can be harmful to your health. In one study, similar contaminants were found in 50% of the 154 mattresses tested.

One the best ways to stay healthy is to use mattress protectors when you first purchase a new mattress. The vinyl covers will not only protect it from mold, and unwanted bugs, but it will also increase the life of your mattress as well. Another tip is the bring that mattress outside when it’s warm and sunny so that trapped moisture can vaporize.


6. Kitchen Sink

A photo of a divided kitchen sink.

Source: Houzz

Here’s an outrageous claim: the kitchen sink, known for cleaning household items, is dirtier than your toilet, but it’s true.

Those bits of food and crumbs left on your plates serve as a breeding ground for germs including the infamous E. coli and salmonella and if you’re not careful, they can transfer to your hands and then onto other plates or food. Rinsing the sink is not enough to fight germs, you need to disinfect it about once a day. Some sources say to do so with bleach water including the drain and plug.


7. Kitchen Sponges

A pile of kitchen sponges.

Source: IDreamofClean

According to The Daily Mail, the common kitchen sponge is about 200,000 dirtier than your home’s toilet seat.

The study they are referring to found that there are about 10 million bacteria found per square inch of that rectangle wonder. With that said, microbiologists agree that using a sponge to wash up with and to wipe food off of plates, with hot water of course, is just fine. Just don’t use that sponge to clean off a clean plate. But one has to wonder, if a plate is clean to begin with would you bother wiping it?


8. Refrigerator

A photo of an open fridge in the kitchen.

Source: HouseLogic

It’s no surprise to learn that various forms of mold grow easily in the refrigerator, (just look inside that Chinese take-out box from last month).

What is more disconcerting is that your fridge’s ice maker and water dispenser can be a haven for E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria and other nasty germs. This is according to the 2013 NSF International Household Germ Study. (Who knew that this even existed?) S

So how do you avoid these unwanted friends? Clean the waterspout every week and the whole dispenser system every six months. Your manual that came with fridge is your best source on how to do it.


9. Reusable Shopping Bags

A woman holding a couple of green reusable bags.

Source: HuffingtonPost

So, you’ve decided to go green when shopping for groceries by taking with you reusable shopping bags. However, keep in mind that they are a magnet for germs.

Studies have shown that only about 3% of customers who use reusable bags actually wash them on a regular basis, but that 99% of bags tested were covered with bacteria including E. coli and fecal contamination. This is due from storing the bags in the truck of a car and germs that were picked up from the shopping cart. To stay healthy, wash your bags every week.


10. Carpets

A couple of carpet rugs rolled up and sitting on stacked carpet.

Source: ProFloor

Perhaps the germiest place in your home is found under your feet.

Some studies have found that households carpets can contain up to 200,000 bacteria per square inch which is roughly 4,000 times dirtier than the toilet seat. Why so dirty? For one, humans shed about 1.5 million skin cells an hour which serve as food for germs.

Add in a few food crumbs, dirty shoes, pet dander and pollen and you can have a real mess without seeing a thing. It is recommended that homeowners hire a company to deep clean their carpets once a year.


11. Door Knobs

A lone doorknob.

Source: MarcJacobs-Handbags

In a story posted on GoodEarthProducts.net, one in three people do not wash their hands after using the toilet and the germs on their hands can linger on doorknobs as well.

Diseases can lurk there like H1N1, Hepatitis A, Influenza and Meningitis. In sort of a good news/bad news situation, you can take heart that studies has shown that computer keyboards are actually dirtier.

So, it bears repeating to always wash your hands when leaving the restroom and try to make minimal contact with the doorknob as possible. You probably don’t need to go all OCD, just be aware of your surroundings.


12. Light Switch

A close-up of a standard light switch.

Source: WTLighting

The light switch is probably the most neglected surface to get attention during spring cleaning while it is also one of the most touched.

Awhile back, the Huffington Post posted a story entitled, “How to Clean a Light Switch, the Dirtiest Spot in Your Home.” While, that claim may not be entirely accurate, the message is still clear.  To clean, use a disinfecting wipe or paper towel sprayed with a household cleaner. Spray the towel rather than directly spraying the plate. Experts recommend cleaning the plate and switch about once a week.


13. Office Desks


Frighteningly, the average office desk contains about 10,000 bacteria right where your hands rest.

Add that to the germs found on office phones (about 25,000 germs per square inch) and your computer keyboard. Overall, the area is about 400 times dirtier than a toilet seat, which might tempt you to move your office to a stall.

Though the experts offer sage advice, we will likely ignore the tips and hope for the best. Be that it may, it is recommended that you avoid using other people’s phones, don’t eat at your desk and wash your hands regularly.


14. Keyboards

A side view of a white keyboard.

Source: LifeHacker

One study found that some keyboards are five times dirtier than your toilet, but then again, toilets are flushed on a regular basis.

The next time the boss asks you to stay late at the office, you could tell him that your have given your quota of time at your dirty keyboard, as harmful bacteria like E. coli and staph like to reside there.

What’s the best way to keep your keyboard clean? Wash your hands. Still, keyboards should be cleaned with an antibacterial wipe every so often as well. Finally, think twice before sharing your keyboard with others.


15. Cellphones

A picture of two of the three cellphone shown being held.

Source: IBTimes

It is said that your cellphone has 10 times more bacteria that your toilet seat, but can tha really be true?

Microbiologist Charles Gerba from the University of Arizona asks, “When was the last time you cleaned your cell phone?” Most toilets are cleaned more often. This also goes for other hand held items such at remote controls.

This may be because people are hesitant to clean an electronic device with the fear of harming it, however, a simple antibacterial wipe will do the trick. The biggest cause of germs those comes from sharing the phone with other people.


16. Restaurants


The seats and tables of restaurant are likely to contain some bacteria on them and the same can be found on a lot of menus.

Eating out can be a treat, but take some extra caution that the next time you dine. First of all, don’t panic, just wash your hands before you eat. You might want to take care when using the condiment bottles of ketchup or mustard as well as the salt and pepper shakers as they too could be harboring some nasty germs.

However, germs are at a minimum in the restaurant’s restrooms as they are usually cleaned frequently rather than just a short wipe given to the dining tables.


17. Restroom Floors

A comparison of a clean restroom floor and a dirty one.

Source: Greenwood Carpet Cleaners

ABC News learned that public restroom toilets are even cleaner than the floor they are sitting on.

On the TV show 20/20, it was revealed that the some floors reveal to have about 2 million bacteria per square inch which is about 200 times higher than a sanitary surface. And believe it or not, because of urinals, men’s restrooms are cleaner than women’s.

Tips to stay healthy include using the stall closest to the restroom door as it usually has less germs (due to less use) and do not put your purse on the floor. No sense dragging those germs with you.