The dirtiest item in your home

Shutterstock.com/ KellySHUTSTOC

One of the most important battles in any home is for the TV remote. Whoever gets it has the power over what is watched. While the digital age is changing many things in terms of how we consume digital media as we have evolved from video to DVD to streaming. The remote has remained an important part of all of them. Your interest in winning the fight for the remote may fall after reading this article as a new study has shown that it is absolutely filthy.

A study tested the colony-forming units on a number of surfaces and found that a remote was pretty disgusting. A colony-forming unit estimates the number of bacteria in a sample. The difference between this measure and simply looking at the surfaces under a microscope is that this measure only takes account of live cells. This helps provide an understanding of how many live bacteria is existing on our surfaces at any one time.

The toilet is always a good surface for comparison. It is somewhere that should be cleaned regularly but no matter how much it was cleaned it is not something you would eat your dinner off. During the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, a number of people took to social media to show their stupidity by licking a toilet seat. Most of these people got sick. A toilet seat is not a clean surface.

When tested researchers found that a toilet had 12.4 colony-forming units per cm2 and had what they described as ‘light’ mold. In comparison, the TV remote had an incredible 290 colony-forming units per cm2 with heavy mold. The TV remote was the dirtiest item tested by far. It makes sense too. How often have you seen someone clean the TV remote and yet how often are dirty hands in contact with it?

Of course, every piece of technology is facing evolution or extinction at present and the TV remote is no different. Many people are now able to control their TV from their smartphone or smartwatch. This may change the dynamic of the fight for the remote but it won’t end it. If the battle does move to smart devices the bacteria issue doesn’t disappear. A smartwatch has 100 colony-forming unites and a smartphone had slightly more. 

While both smartphones and smartwatches appeared to be cleaner than the remote they both reported heavy mold and are certainly far from clean. When we think about the devices we come in contact with every day it is remarkable that the devices we use the most are often the ones we clean the least. The bottle you drink from every day, your toothbrush, your wallet, your keys, and your phone are items that we should be cleaning regularly and we are not. 

If you want to ensure that your home is free of high amounts of bacteria, throwing out the remote is not the solution. You need to have a regular routine that ensures the house is clean but that the things you come in contact with most are also clean. Of course, there are likely very different bacteria on a toilet seat compared to a mobile phone or remote but the reality is that all three likely have some terrible ones. 

Hopefully, this latest study can trigger some action in your home and cause people to realize the importance of washing their hands regularly and cleaning common surfaces. If the strange people who recorded the videos of licking toilet seats read this article we look forward to your videos of licking remotes. For the more sane people out there, stay hygienic and stay safe.