You probably think the toilet seat is the dirtiest thing you come into contact with on a daily basis – but that’s far from the case!

Everyday items lurking in your kitchen, your car and other areas of your home can contain several thousand times more germs than the humble latrine.

While being a clean freak can actually lead to worsened immunity, poor gut health and increased risk of allergies, a home overrun with certain germs can be equally as worrisome. Over 65% of colds, 50% of all cases of diarrhea and up to 80% of food-borne illnesses are caught in the home – with common household items usually thought to be the trigger.

To strike a happy medium, and protect yourself from illness, make sure to add these 17 germ infested things to your household cleaning routine:

1. Dish Cloths and Sponges

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The very items you use to clean your dishes and pans could actually be making them dirtier!

In one study, scientists discovered that there are one million bacteria per square inch on an average dish cloth and a whopping 10 million per square inch on a kitchen sponge…making them 200,000 times dirtier than a toilet seat!

Another study of hundreds of US homes found that 7% of kitchen towels were contaminated with MRSA – the antibiotic resistant super drug. Coliform bacteria (present in feces) has been discovered in 89% while E. coli was found on 25%!

To avoid harboring bacteria, wash your sponges, kitchen towels and cloths every other day on a high heat. You can also zap sponges in the microwave for two minutes to kill the germs. Allow cloths to dry out between uses, as the bugs can’t survive for more than a few hours in dry fabrics.

2. Other Cleaning Equipment

Sponges and cloths aren’t the only germy cleaning items – basically, anything you use to pick up dirt can hold onto microbes and provide them with a pleasant breeding ground.

Research has found that 50% of vacuum cleaner brushes contained fecal bacteria and 13% were housing E. coli. These brushes, along with mop heads, brooms, dustpans and dusters should all be washed or replaced regularly. Likewise, your dishwasher and washing machine can be rife with microbes so monthly deep cleans are essential.

3. Bath Towels

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Dead skin cells and moisture provide a perfect breeding ground for bacteria which is why towels can be a high risk item. And, if you share towels you could end up cross contaminating other members of your household – everything from colds and flu to athlete’s foot to serious infection can be transmitted via bathroom towels.

To avoid this, wash and replace all your towels at least every three days and use vinegar in place of fabric softener to remove odors and improve the absorbency of the fabric.

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