Hidden Household Germs: Tips for Ridding Your Home of Bacteria

We think we're doing everything we can to keep ourselves and our families from getting sick, but it turns out we may be overlooking some of the most common culprits.

Our homes are not the safe havens from germs that we think they are. While we may think of germs as being a threat from the outside world, the truth is that many common household items are some of the biggest bacteria magnets around.

Here are some tips on how to eliminate the bacteria that may be hiding in your house.

Dirty toothbrush.

That’s right! Although we brush our teeth every day to keep our mouths clean, the tooth brush we are using to kill bacteria might actually be full of bacteria! Bacteria that naturally exists in our mouths inevitably ends up on your toothbrush. That bacteria combines with particles of food that get trapped in the bristles, and results in quite a health hazard. Studies have also found that flushing a toilet sprays millions of tiny bacteria (such as salmonella and E. coli) into the air. Some of these can land on your toothbrush!

So what can we to do?

1. Sanitize your toothbrush weekly. To eliminate bacteria, mix a disinfectant solution of 50 percent water and 50 percent hydrogen peroxide. Stir these two ingredients together with your brush and then let the brush sit in the mixture, bristle side down, for a few minutes. This should be enough to kill any bacteria on the brush. A higher-tech, more expensive option is to purchase a toothbrush sanitizer. These gadgets use ultra violet light and are able to kill 99 percent of bacteria.

2. Prevent bacteria growth on your toothbrush by storing it upright, allowing it to air-dry after each use. As convenient as it might be to leave that brush lying on the side of the sink, not allowing the brush to dry allows bacteria to multiply.

3. Store your toothbrush in a location where it isn’t touching another family member’s brush. By doing so you prevent the transference of germs from brush to brush.

4. Never share a toothbrush with anyone (even your spouse.)

5. To prevent toilet spray from reaching your toothbrush, store it inside a medicine cabinet or closet, or some other place where the bacteria-filled mist cannot reach it.

6. Doctors recommend discarding and replacing toothbrushes every few months.

Hell's Kitchen

Another place where bacteria loves to hide in our homes is the kitchen, specifically the sink drain and garbage disposal. The kitchen sink drain is a major breeding ground for bacteria because the combination of trapped food particles and moist conditions are ideal for opportunistic bacteria to multiply. And don't forget the sponge! The kitchen sponge is a favorite hiding spot for bacteria.

Here are tips to rid your kitchen of germs:

1. Clean sink drains with a commercial cleaning agent meant for this purpose. You can also make your own cleanser by mixing one teaspoon of bleach with one quart of water. Pour the cleanser down the drain. Not only will it kill the bacteria lurking in your pipes, but it should also eliminate any funky smells that may have been emanating from the drain.

2. Kill any germs living in the pores of your sponge by zapping them in your microwave. It only takes two minutes to successfully kill any bacteria, parasites, or viruses living in the sponge. Remember to be very careful when microwaving your sponges. To prevent fire, make sure to dampen the sponge before microwaving and stay nearby while delivering the zap.

3. Discard and replace sponges every month or so.

4. Give up using sponges altogether and switch to disposable disinfectant wipes instead. Since these wipes are meant for one-time use, you won't be spreading germs all over the house. The only place the germs will go is in the garbage.

E.D. Hill anchors "FOX News Live" from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. ET weekdays on the Fox News Channel, and is the former co-anchor of the network's weekday morning program "FOX & Friends."