Get Fit, Breathe Easier

How to Keep a Super-Clean House



3. Wet laundry
An icky fact: There's a tenth of a gram of feces hiding in every pair of underwear, and washing doesn't always remove it all. That means you can get E. coli on your hands every time you transfer underwear from the washer to the dryer, says Charles Gerba, PhD, a professor of environmental microbiology at the University of Arizona. And a single soiled undergarment can spread those dangerous bacteria to the whole load.

Simple fix: Think 150 degrees, the temperature at which you should run your washer and dryer, to kill bacteria. "Most organisms die in the drying cycle," Reynolds says. Wash underwear separately, and wash whites with bleach, which kills 99.99% of bugs.

Transfer wet laundry to the dryer quickly so germs don't multiply; dry for at least 45 minutes (or until the load is fully dry). Wash your hands after doing laundry, and run a cycle of bleach and water after laundering unmentionables to eliminate any lingering germs.

4. Your toothbrush
The human mouth contains about 100 million microbes per milliliter of saliva, Schmidt says. Those microbes eat the same food you do, and when you brush, food particles and bacteria stick to your toothbrush. The unhappy result: an overgrowth of germs on your brush.

Simple fix: After brushing, rinse your toothbrush with hot water and stand it up in a water glass to air-dry, says Margaret Lewin, MD, a clinical assistant professor of medicine at Cornell University and medical director of the insurance company Cinergy Health. Don't lay it on the counter, where it can gather other bathroom germs, and don't store it in a travel case, where bacteria can thrive in the moisture. You can even clean your toothbrush in the dishwasher once in a while.

Next Page: 5. The bathtub/shower