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Controlling Harmful Bacteria On Soft Surfaces In Your Home


Your family may not be the only ones enjoying the sofa. The soft, comfortable places where families relax and play at home can harbor millions of bacteria. For example, Staphylococcus bacteria can live on soft surfaces for 24 hours.


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"Bacteria can be found just about everywhere around the home - on both hard and soft surfaces alike," says pediatrician Dr. Laura Jana. "While many families take aim at bacteria on hard surfaces such as kitchen and bathroom countertops, soft surfaces tend to fly under the radar during cleaning routines."

Some commonly overlooked household soft surfaces include:

  • Sofas - Since kids spend a significant amount of time playing, sleeping and eating on the sofa, bacteria tends to accumulate on this piece of furniture. However, a recent survey from the Hygiene Council found that the majority (61 percent) of Americans sanitized their sofa only a few times, if at all, since it was purchased.
  • Mattresses - Families commonly think that washing their sheets is enough to keep their beds clean. However, people shed bacteria-harboring skin cells onto their mattress each night when they sleep, which becomes especially problematic when someone is sick. This provides food for microbes and dust mites.
  • Pillows - Any surface where people rest their heads is bound to be filled with bacteria, especially surfaces that are consistently used, such as pillows. The mouth, nose and ears are vulnerable orifices that rub against pillows and pick up bacteria left behind by previous users.
  • Fabric Shoes - Shoes are in constant contact with the ground, which is known to be one of the dirtiest surfaces, but it's not just the sole of the shoe that collects grime. The fabric surface on shoes also harbors bacteria that is easily transferred when tying your laces or slipping on your heel.
  • Car Seats - While their purpose is to offer protection on the road, bacteria lurk in the fabric covering of car seats. They often catch crumbs and absorb spills that can accumulate over time.
What You Can Do
  • Clean your soft furnishings and surfaces regularly to remove germs and microbial food sources.
  • Consider a steam vapor sanitation device to kill germs without the use of harmful chemicals. Some units have been shown to be very effective at killing pathogens as well as dust mites in fabrics.
  • UV-C or ultraviolet light has demonstrated effectiveness against microbes on carpets and hard surfaces alike. Some vacuum cleaners offer a UV-C light mounted on the bottom of the vacuum to help control bacterial growth.
  • Sanitizing sprays can be very effective at killing bacteria and viruses on soft surfaces.

For more information on proper disinfection and sanitizing routines, families can visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at


Additional Source: Napsnet


Controlling Harmful Bacteria On Soft Surfaces In Your Home:  Created on September 3rd, 2009.  Last Modified on January 21st, 2014


About IEHA


The International Executive Housekeepers Association (IEHA) is a 3,200-plus member organization for housekeeping management. Executive housekeepers are managers that direct housekeeping programs in commercial, industrial or institutional facilities, including upscale hotels, hospitals, schools, and other public places. The non-profit was founded in 1930 in New York City, and is now located in Westerville, Ohio, a suburb of the state’s capitol.