Cleaning Tips for College Students

Getting sick is no way to experience college, and students’ own homes may threaten their health. Students can often have immune system depression due to lack of sleep or poor diet, which may weaken their resistance and cause them to get sick. This could mean missed classes or poor performance in school. This causes added—and unnecessary—stress for students.

The NSF International 2016 Household Germ Study showed that students didn’t always understand where germs can hide. NSF scientists conducted similar studies in 2011 and 2013 and found household areas and items like the dish sponge, sink drain and faucet handle are the perfect environment for germs. But when asked about their cleaning habits, students tended to pay more attention to countertops and toilet seats. Not many, unfortunately, took the time to regularly disinfect the kitchen sink drain or shower area.

Students can improve their cleaning grade to an “A” by paying attention to wet, textured surfaces that may hide germs. By following a few simple cleaning tips, they can reduce the risk of becoming sick and missing class or that important upcoming party.

Quick Tips From NSF International

Students should start their cleaning with the six germiest areas of their home, as found by NSF International scientists:

  1. Dish Sponge: Sponges and dish rags can pick up bacteria during the cleaning process, and, if not properly sanitized between uses, can be a prime spot for germ growth. To Clean: Place wet sponges in the microwave for two minutes once per day and replace sponges often—every two weeks or sooner as needed. Better options for kitchen cleaning are dishcloths, towels and rags. These items can be sanitized by washing on the clothes washer's sanitizing cycle or with bleach. Replace washable linens every one to two days.
  2. Shower/Tub Drain: The shower/tub drain is usually dirty and often stays damp, which means it contains high levels of coliforms, yeast and mold. To Clean: Disinfect with a bathroom cleaner at least once a week.
  3. Kitchen Sink Drain: Food is often left here, where moisture from the sink encourages growth of bacteria like E. coli. To Clean: Wash and disinfect the sides and bottom of the sink once or twice a week with a disinfecting cleaner.
  4. Shower Head: The shower head doesn’t often contain dangerous germs, but it can be surprisingly full of bacteria, as well as high levels of yeast and mold. To Clean: Like the shower/tub drain, disinfect with a bathroom cleaner at least once a week.
  5. Kitchen Faucet Handle: Coliform bacteria and E. coli are common contaminants on faucet handles, especially in the kitchen where uncooked food and unwashed hands often touch the wet handles. To Clean: Clean daily with disinfecting cleaner or disinfecting wipes.
  6. Coffee Maker: The moisture in a coffee maker can harbor high levels of yeast and mold, and can hold coliforms and E. coli. To Clean: Wash the carafe with soap and hot water after every use. Every week, run the machine with equal parts water and white vinegar (or cleaning solution), which will sanitize the coffee maker and also reduce calcium deposits.