Microbiologist reveals the areas in the home we should be cleaning the most right now

cleaning house
It's not the toilet seat that's the dirtiest spot in the house. Photo credit: Getty.

With the nation celebrating the lift to COVID-19 alert level 2, Kiwis are starting to head out to places they haven't seen in weeks. But despite the newfound freedoms, the pandemic isn't far from our minds and many of us are still furiously cleaning our homes and ourselves more than ever. 

But Gem McLuckie, research microbiologist at Dyson, says it's areas around our homes we don't consider cleaning on a regular basis where pathogens are likely to sneak in. 

"While people may think areas such as the toilet seat are the dirtiest, it tends to be high-touch surfaces such as light switches and TV remotes," she said. 

Even one of the most seemingly hygienic areas, the kitchen, could probably do with extra cleaning.

"Food preparation surfaces such as chopping boards can harbour the most bacterial contamination. Dust collects on top of kitchen cupboards, this can then be disturbed and distributed on to the freshly cleaned surfaces aiding the spread of microbes and allergens contained within the dust."

Gem McLuckie, Dyson research microbiologist.
Gem McLuckie, Dyson research microbiologist. Photo credit: Supplied.

McLuckie said even if you've sprayed and wiped every exposed surface, you can't forget to also regularly clean soft furnishings like couches, cushions and rugs. 

"Dust is made up of a complex range of microscopic particles, including pollen, bacteria, skin flakes and dust mites. Dust mites actually feed on human and animal skin flakes, so areas where we spend a lot of time, like our beds, can harbour a lot of skin deposit and dust mites," McLuckie explained. 

If you've got a sensitive stomach, we recommend you don't read the next part. 

"Crucially, the proteins found in dust mite faeces are what can cause allergies - and dust mites can produce around 20 pellets a day," McLuckie said.

"So while you may not be able to see the dust in your mattress, sofa, carpets or curtains, it's important that you vacuum them regularly to reduce the amount of dust and associated allergens in your home." 


McLuckie said the COVID-19 pandemic has opened many people's eyes "to the potential for germs, bacteria and viruses to be transferred quickly and in ways they were not previously aware of".

"As a microbiologist, I see the world through a different lens and what is invisible to the eye is never far from my mind," she said. 

"I just hope that people will gain a greater awareness of the importance of keeping their hands and surroundings clean and hygienic. 

"Nowhere do we have more control over this than in our own homes."