Study Shows Soap Washes Down the Drain, But Germs Don't


To track down where germs linger, The Clorox Company and global public health organization NSF International conducted a study in homes of families with young children. Researchers analyzed 100 samples from five commonly-touched surfaces, and found bacteria or viruses on all five of the surfaces tested, from the kitchen to the common area to the bathroom, with the bathroom sink being one of the surfaces with the most germs. In fact, the study results found that four times as many households had bathroom sinks that were germier than kitchen countertops.

Think you know where germs stick? Think again!
 A survey of parents also revealed that they had misconceptions about which surfaces tested were the “germiest.”  Key findings include:
• Soap washes down the drain, but germs don’t: The bathroom sinks harbored the most germs of all surfaces tested.
• Don’t forget to wash the sink: When asked which surface they felt they needed to clean most often, more than half of parents surveyed said the kitchen countertop. Yet study results showed more households actually had germier bathroom sinks than kitchen countertops. Moreover, 90 percent of parents ranked the kitchen drawer knob as the germiest surface, but results revealed it held less bacteria than all other surfaces tested.
• Germs stick when you’re sick: Influenza A was found on a surface in the home of a person who had the flu.  

To make sure the germs your family brings home this cold and flu season don't stick around, pediatrician and assistant clinical professor at Mattel Children’s Hospital, Dr. Tanya Altmann, recommends following tried-and-true tips.

“Parents can help prevent the spread of germs by taking the same prevention steps the CDC recommends every cold and flu season, like showing kids how to wash their hands properly, teaching them to cough into elbows and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces with a disinfectant approved to kill cold and flu viruses, like Clorox® Disinfecting Wipes,” says Altmann. Clorox® Disinfecting Products kill 99.9 percent of germs that can live on surfaces for up to 48 hours, including Staph, E. Coli, Salmonella and Strep.

For more information on preventing the spread of germs, including educational videos and activities to share with your family, visit

NSF International performed a study from August to September 2014 to evaluate the microbiological contamination on various surfaces within households in the Detroit metropolitan area. Five surface locations within the household were sampled: kitchen countertop; kitchen drawer knob; common area doorknob; bathroom sink and bathroom sink faucet handle. A total of 20 households with at least one child under six years old residing in the house were included in the study. Each surface was evaluated for the presence of E. coli, total coliforms, Staphylococcus aureus and influenza A.  Additionally, the household residents were asked to complete a survey regarding their expectations of the study findings.

Source: The Clorox Company

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