1. Bacteria are all over your kitchen sponge

    The surprising source of sickening germs in your own home

    It just might be the dirtiest spot in your home, with more germs per square inch than anything else.

    And it's NOT where you'd expect it.

    It's not in your toilet. It's not under the sink. It's not in the basement, attic, or garage... and not even that weird spot in the back of the fridge.

    No, this filthy piece of real estate is something you use and touch every day, and it comes in direct contact with the dishes you eat from.

    It's your sponge!

    Researchers squeezed out a bunch of kitchen sponges and found at least 362 different types of bacteria living inside.

    Many are, of course, harmless. This is expected. We're surrounded by bacteria, and many won't hurt you.

    The most common type of bacteria found on the sponges are the types that are probably crawling around on your skin right now.

    But at least five types of bacteria found inside sponges aren't harmless at all.

    They're what's known as "risk group 2" germs, which generally aren't deadly bugs but certainly can make you sick.

    These are the germs responsible for common infections, including the kind that make you miserable enough to have to visit a doctor and get treatment.

    In some cases, they even found bacteria such as the Staphylococcus responsible for "staph infections," as well as the Salmonella and Campylobacter behind many cases of food poisoning.

    The research team found so many different types of germs that they called your kitchen sponges the "biggest reservoirs of active bacteria in the whole house."

    That's no exaggeration: A 2013 study found the average dish sponge has a bacterial count of 775,460,560.

    That's 3,000 times dirtier than number two on the list, the tap handle on your sink (which has a count of 228,854).

    Your toilet seat, by contrast, has a count of just 1,200 -- in large part because people clean their toilets more often than their sinks and sponges.

    But you can fix that easily enough.

    One option is obvious. Don't try to squeeze extra life out of your sponges. Buy them in bulk, and make sure you replace them often.

    The other is much less obvious: You can actually wash the germs right out of your sponge.

    Search online and you'll find instructions for sanitizing sponges in both the microwave and dishwasher.

    Obviously, they're not meant to last forever... so, even if you do clean them regularly, be sure to also replace the things often as well.

  2. Foam soap doesn’t kill bacteria

    Is your soap really just water?

    We used to use bars of soap. Now, most folks use liquid soap.

    First the bar, then the jar -- and lately, there's been yet another change in soap in many homes.

    Instead of a liquid, a lot of folks now prefer "foam" soaps. One or two pumps, and you've already got a handful of rich lather.

    Convenient, right?

    But like a lot of convenience, it comes at a price -- as new research shows that this stuff isn't nearly as effective as normal liquid soap.

    And if you're relying on foam soap yourself, you could inadvertently expose yourself to bacteria and other germs that can make you sick.

    The new study finds that six seconds of scrubbing with foam soap will leave behind more than twice as many germs as doing so with liquid soap.

    In fact, the drop in bacteria on your hands with foam soap is so small that you may as well not have washed at all, according to the study in the American Journal of Infection Control.

    That's only after six seconds of scrubbing, and not the recommended 30 seconds needed for a good cleanse. But unfortunately, six seconds is about how long most folks wash their hands.

    It's not clear how much better foam soap would be over a full 30 seconds, but it is pretty clear that it's not as effective as liquid soap in real-world conditions.

    The reason is pretty simple: Foam soap contains little ACTUAL soap!

    If you have a foam soap dispenser yourself, you may have figured out the way to refill it on your own is to put in a little liquid soap and a whole lot of water.

    It might make for a rich lather, but most of it's just water.

    Stick to regular soap, either a liquid or a bar -- and, even then, be careful about what you buy, because some "clean" products are hiding dirty secrets.

    The dirtiest one of all is that fancier soaps that make more promises -- and carry a higher price -- are often LESS effective and, in some cases, are MORE dangerous!

    For years, "antibacterial" soaps even contained a chemical linked to thyroid dysfunction and more.

    It's being phased out, but many of the chemicals in fancy soaps have been linked to everything from minor skin reactions to major health concerns... and for what?

    For nothing -- because studies show that nothing will get you cleaner than plain old soap like the one you used when you were a kid.

    Just be sure to lather and scrub for at least 30 seconds before rinsing off. No cheating!

  3. Bacteria are living in your towels

    Bacteria could be hiding in the most unexpected places – and some nasty germs are even living inside your bathroom towels!
  4. Hundreds of germs found on paper money

    More than 3,000 types of bacteria -- including some responsible for disease -- have been found on U.S. dollar bills. Learn the down and dirty gut turning details.
  5. How helpful bacteria can fight disease

    Having the right blend of probiotic bacteria in your stomach can help you to lose weight, fight diabetes and stay healthy, according to new research.
  6. Antibiotic azithromycin can triple the risk of heart death

    The antibiotic azithromycin can triple the risk of heart death, a new study shows, making it more important than ever to try natural treatments first.
  7. Meat glue means your steak could really be leftover scraps

    A substance known as "meat glue" can be used to turn leftover scraps of meat into steak teeming with bacteria -- and sold to unsuspecting consumers.
  8. How to clean your dirty dentures

    "Biofilm" is a word you don't hear everyday. But if you wear dentures, it's something you're exposed to every time you pop them in.
  9. Antibiotics no longer recommended for sinus infections

    Finally, a little common sense when it comes to antibiotics: A leading medical group is urging docs to stop using these drugs for sinus infections.
  10. Sinus infection? Don't touch that antibiotic!

    Show up at your doctor's office with a sinus infection, and odds are good you'll walk out with a 10-day (or longer) prescription for the antibiotic amoxicillin.
  11. Another recall for children's Tylenol

    Talk about déjà vu all over again: Infant Tylenol is being recalled just months after being put back onto the market after the last recall.
  12. How toilets spread disease

    British researchers recently conducted a series of tests on toilet seats -- and before you dismiss this as a bit of wacky and unnecessary research, check out what they learned: Toilets can spread potentially deadly bacteria when the lid is up.
  13. Public toilets are crawling with germs

    Some studies offer surprising, even stunning conclusions. This isn't one of them: Public restrooms are every bit as filthy as you would have guessed... and maybe even worse.
  14. Bacteria love your cellphone

    I'm always a little grossed out when I see someone walk out of the bathroom with a cellphone in hand -- either checking messages or already mid-conversation. The thought alone is enough to make you sick, but the latest research shows how it could make you literally ill: Cellphones are crawling with germs, including the nasty bacteria that live in poop.
  15. Dirty docs spread disease

    It's the last place you'd expect to face infection risk -- but it turns out it's the one place you need to be on your guard the most. It's your doctor's office.
  16. Surprising homes of germs

    In one study, researchers visited 30 single men and 30 single women at home and did swab tests on four surfaces: remote controls, coffee tables, nightstands and doorknobs.

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