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Microbiologist Reveals the Top 15 Dirtiest Things in Your Home

Author imageThe Mattress Warehouse

The Mattress Warehouse decided to uncover everyone’s dirty secrets by consulting with a microbiologist to determine the dirtiest items in your home. They then conducted a survey of more than 2,000 South Africans to find out how often people are cleaning these common household items. Check the results and find out how often South Africans are cleaning these items or areas, and what the best cleaning methods are to rid your household of germs.

The results may surprise you.

1. The kitchen sink

Type of germs: bacteria

The expert recommends cleaning the kitchen sink, including the tap, every day. This can be achieved with a multi-purpose kitchen cleaner. The survey found that more than 87% of South Africans do clean their kitchen sink on a daily basis.

How often are South Africans cleaning their kitchen sink?

Every day 87%
Weekly 10%
Monthly 2%
Never Less than 1%

A black kitchen sink with water running from the curved black faucet.

2. The toilet bowl

Type of germs: bacteria and viruses

The survey revealed that roughly half of South Africans are cleaning their toilets every day, which is the recommended cleaning frequency. This means that 45% of households are putting themselves at risk of harbouring unwanted germs. A household approved toilet sanitiser solution can be used for overall toilet hygiene.

How often are South Africans cleaning their toilets?

Every day 55%
Weekly 39%
Monthly 6%
Never 0%

3. Kitchen Rags and Sponges

Type of germs: bacteria

A study published in the journal of Scientific Reports found that kitchen sponges can contain up to 362 different types of bacterial species. South Africans are pretty accurate with this one as 46% of those surveyed admitted to cleaning their sponges and rags on a weekly basis as per the recommended cleaning schedule. The expert recommends boiling these items in water for at least 15 minutes. It’s also advisable to discard the rags or sponges after a few months.

How often are South Africans cleaning their sponges or rags?

Every day 35%
Weekly 46%
Monthly 17%
Never 2%

4. The shower or bathtub

Type of germs: bacteria and viruses

The microbiologist recommends cleaning the shower and tub every day by rinsing and scrubbing with a multipurpose householder bathroom cleaner. By comparison, just under half of South Africans are cleaning the shower or bath at this rate and shockingly, almost 15% are only cleaning this area on a monthly basis.

How often are South Africans cleaning their baths or showers?

Every day 46%
Weekly 39%
Monthly 14.5%
Never Less than 1%

5. Children’s Toys

Type of germs: bacteria and viruses

The microbiologist confirms that children’s toys only need to be cleaned on a monthly basis. Almost two-thirds of South Africans are actually over cleaning these items, while a third isn’t bothering to clean them at all! Add the toys to a bleach solution and allow them to soak for at least 15 minutes to kill off any harmful bacteria. Otherwise, wipe down with the solution and air-dry.

How often are South Africans cleaning their children’s toys

Every day 11%
Weekly 26%
Monthly 31%
Never 32%

6. Cell Phones

Type of germs: bacteria and viruses

The microbiologist has recommended cleaning your mobile phone every week. Almost 30% of those surveyed are cleaning their phones at the recommended frequency while 29% are cleaning their phones every day and 17% are not cleaning their phones at all. For best results, use a lint-free cloth that is lightly dampened with a soap and water solution to gently pat clean or use an approved antibacterial wipe.

How often are South Africans cleaning their cell phones?

Every day 29%
Weekly 29%
Monthly 25%
Never 17%

7. Laptop, PC Screens and Keyboards

Type of germs: bacteria

The microbiologist suggests cleaning these items every month. South Africans prove they’re a sensible lot with nearly half of the respondents indicating that they are cleaning these areas according to the expert’s recommendations. However, almost 20% of South Africans are neglecting these high-risk areas. The expert recommends using a cloth dipped in an isopropyl solution to give the area a thorough wipe-down.

How often are South Africans cleaning their laptops and PCs?

Every day 2%
Weekly 36%
Monthly 43%
Never 19%

8. Bedding & Linen

Type of germs: bacteria

It’s recommended to clean your bed linen and bedding at least once a week. South Africans are falling a little behind on this one with almost two-thirds of those surveyed admitting to cleaning their bed linen on a monthly basis. Wash clean in a washing machine or by hand in water that is no less than 60℃.

How often are South Africans cleaning their bed linen?

Every day 1%
Weekly 34%
Monthly 64%
Never Less than 1%

9. The Mattress

Type of germs: bacteria

Over time, mattresses can build up dust mites and bacteria, which can affect people with allergies and the quality of the mattress. “It’s not uncommon for people to buy a mattress and never clean it, which is not recommended,” explains Zaach Smith, The Mattress Warehouse Founder and owner. “While you don’t have to clean the mattress every day or even every month, it’s certainly advisable to clean it in order to improve its longevity and air quality.”

The microbiologist concurs with Smith’s opinion and recommends cleaning your mattress at least once every year if you sleep on it regularly. Shockingly, more than half of South Africans admit to never having cleaned their mattress before. Get the full guide on how to clean your mattress here.

How often are South Africans cleaning their mattresses?

Every day Less than 1%
Weekly 6%
Monthly 43%
Never 51%

10. Toothbrush

Type of germs: bacteria and viruses

Clean your toothbrush every day by running hot water over the bristles before and after each use. Regardless of how well you’re cleaning it, the microbiologist also recommends replacing your toothbrush after three months. Fortunately, more than two-thirds of South Africans agree as they’re cleaning their toothbrushes every day with less than 10% claiming to have never done so.

How often are South Africans cleaning their toothbrushes?

Every day 66%
Weekly 11%
Monthly 15%
Never 8%

11. TV Remote Control

Type of germs: bacteria and yeast

The microbiologist recommends cleaning this item at least once per week by using a disinfectant wipe to lightly rub over the remote control. For an even better clean, use a cotton bud dipped in a solution of soap and water to work between the buttons. Most South Africans are failing dismally in this area as more than two-thirds admit to cleaning this household item very infrequently or not at all.

How often are South Africans cleaning their remote controls?

Every day 12%
Weekly 26%
Monthly 32%
Never 30%

12. Water Bottles

Type of germs: bacteria and yeast

The expert says that a water bottle, including the cap, should be cleaned out every day in case of a build-up of unwanted bacteria or yeast. A recommended cleaning method is to add a teaspoon of vinegar and baking soda to the bottle, filling with warm water and allowing the bottle to stand overnight. Rinse out thoroughly the next day. The majority of South Africans confirm they are cleaning their water bottles every day.

How often are South Africans cleaning their water bottles?

Every day 53%
Weekly 26%
Monthly 14%
Never 7%

13. Cutting Board

Type of germs: bacteria and fungi

The microbiologist recommends cleaning your cutting board after each use by scrubbing with a brush under hot water with an approved household cleaning solution, and South Africans are following these tips well with 70% confirming that they clean their boards every day.

How often are South Africans cleaning their cutting boards?

Every day 70%
Weekly 22%
Monthly 1%
Never 7%

14. Shoes

Type of germs: bacteria and fungi

A weekly clean is recommended to prevent the build-up of bacteria and fungus. The survey results revealed that 68% of people are only cleaning their shoes about once a month, which is below the recommendation. The expert suggests scrubbing your shoes in warm water if possible, using a cleaning solution like laundry detergent.

How often are South Africans cleaning their shoes?

Every day 2%
Weekly 12%
Monthly 68%
Never 18%

15. Doorknobs and Light Switches

Type of germs: bacteria and viruses

The expert confirms that doorknobs and light switches can harbour harmful bacteria and viruses so she recommends a weekly clean-up by wiping down with a cloth soaked in an approved household disinfectant or cleaning solution. South Africans are falling a little short as almost half admit to cleaning these areas on a monthly basis rather than the recommended weekly basis.

How often are South Africans cleaning light switches and doorknobs?

Every day 9%
Weekly 24%
Monthly 43%
Never 24%

How confident are South Africans about their cleaning abilities?

We asked our survey participants two extra questions: how confident were they that their homes were clean and how confident were they in their cleaning abilities. In both cases, South Africans come out tops in the confidence charts. 

More than half of the respondents indicated that they were either confident or very confident their homes were clean, as well as their confidence levels in their cleaning abilities.

How confident are you that your home and household items are clean?

Very confident 18%
Confident 40%
Unsure 35%
Moderately confident 4%
Extremely unconfident 3%

How confident are you in your cleaning abilities?

Very confident 20%
Confident 44%
Unsure 12%
Moderately confident 23%
Extremely unconfident 1%

Keep it clean and tidy with The Mattress Warehouse

Now that you know exactly where the problem areas are, you can pay special attention to them during your cleaning routine. For more information about mattress cleaning, maintenance and longevity, take a look at some of our blog posts or contact us for more expert information about our beds or mattresses for sale.


The survey of 2,103 South African respondents was collected during a two-week social media campaign and CRM direct marketing survey for the period starting Monday, 05th July to Friday, 16th July 2021. In addition, expert opinion and comments were obtained after consultation with qualified microbiologist Andri Papaloizou.

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