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Are You Hosting Billions of Germs in Your House?

12 spots you should clean — now

En español | Even the tidiest house hosts multitudes of unwanted guests. You can't see the microscopic moochers, but your next sneeze, sniffle or full-fledged stomach flu might come courtesy of the bacteria and viruses growing by the billions on surfaces you touch every day. Here are 12 top spots where germs lurk and some suggestions for wiping them out. (Hint: Your dishwasher is your new best friend.)

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Wipe Away Household Germs

Kitchen sponges are full of germs. — Image Source/Corbis

1. Kitchen sponge

The sponge you use to clean with is the germiest thing in your house, says microbiologist Charles Gerba of the University of Arizona in Tucson. "It's a happy home for bacteria because it's wet, moist and you're always picking up food with it" as you wipe up crumbs and spills, Gerba says. Tuck sponges into the dishwasher before you run it — the heat will kill the salmonella and E. coli hiding within. Another option: Pop your wet (nonmetal) sponges and dishrags in the microwave for about two minutes. Be sure to allow them to cool before retrieving them.

Next: How to send germs spinning down the drain. >>

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