Dirty Little Secrets: What Hidden Germs are Lurking in Your Home

Fox 27
(WFFF) Is your home hiding a dirty little secret? When’s the last time you cleaned things like your coffee maker or your shower head?

Crystal considers herself to be a pretty tidy person. She lives in Essex Junction, Vermont along with her 6-year-old son Landon and 3-year-old nephew Isaac. Picking up after these two can be a daily job within itself, so she was a bit reluctant when we asked to bring our cameras into her house. But she agreed, curious to see what we’d find.

First, we swab her coffee machine with a test kit. Snap off the tips and seal it tightly into the tube. Now, it’s off to the living room where we decide to test an item Crystal and her family use pretty frequently: the couch pillows. Using the same technique, we swab the pillow. Next, we head upstairs to test the boys’ room and test a plastic toy gun.

Then we head to the bathroom to test what’s on the shower head.

“I like to think I’m clean, but you’re kinda making me nervous,” she said. “I’m curious to see what the Keurig’s got. Its just something that you would think cleans itself, that’s kind of the point is putting the cup in there and taking it out so I’m really curious about that.”

We bring the test swabs straight to Dr. Christina Wojewoda at the University of Vermont Medical Center. She incubated the swabs at 95 degrees for 2 days. And the results are in.

“We didn’t get anything to grow from the coffee maker, most likely because the water in the coffee maker heats up to such a high temperature that it kills anything in there each time you brew,” Wojewoda said.

“The plastic gun did have some bacterial growth,” she said. However, it’s bacteria Dr. Wojewoda calls skin flora. “Bacteria that is totally harmless to us that lives on everybody’s skin and doesn’t cause a problem.” The pillow came back with the same type of harmless bacteria.

“We recovered the most bacteria off of the shower head. We had probably 5 to 6 different types of bacteria,” she said. “Just looking with your naked eye, you can see there’s different colors and shapes and sizes of the bacterial growth.” But Wojewoda says its not as scary as it might look. “Things that wouldn’t cause disease in a normal person, but if your immune system was very compromised and it got into some place like your blood stream, it could be a pathogen.”

Needless to say, Crystal was shocked. “That’s disgusting,” she said.
“I’m definitely going to go clean the shower heads.”

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