Home Leisure & Lifestyle Streptococcus Is Most Resistant to Cleaning, Experiment Finds

Streptococcus Is Most Resistant to Cleaning, Experiment Finds

Reading Time: 3 minutes

new experiment has revealed six different strains of bacteria that are commonly found on floors in our homes and identified those that are most resistant to cleaning techniques.

The experiment was commissioned by Factory Direct Flooring, which enlisted microbiologists at BioLabTests to analyse floor swabs from different homes. 

They discovered the bathroom floor is typically home to the most germs, with bacillus, MRSA/staphylococcus, yeast, mould, and pseudomonas present. Meanwhile, bedroom carpets were also rife with bacteria, especially staphylococcus.

Each room’s floor was swabbed before and after cleaning, to find out which methods were most effective against different types of bacteria. This was done by measuring the difference in colony-forming units (CFUs) between swabs.

Ranking of room floors by cleanliness before cleaning

  1. Bathroom (933 CFUs)
  2. Hallway and stairs (675 CFUs)
  3. Kitchen and dining room (649 CFUs)
  4. Bedroom (591 CFUs)
  5. Living room (498 CFUs)
  6. Home office (401 CFUs)

Paul Hambidge, managing director at Factory Direct Flooring, said: “When we look at averages, the bedroom floor was the fourth dirtiest. However, when we look only at rooms with carpet, the bedroom floor was the filthiest, and by quite a long way – at least 591 CFUs were found hiding in bedroom carpets before cleaning, compared to 375 CFUs on average for other rooms with the same floor type. 

“Staphylococcus was especially rife on the bedroom carpet, making up more than two-fifths (or 244 CFUs) of all the germs found there. All bedrooms we swabbed had carpets, so vacuuming was the only cleaning technique we tested here, and it was 53% effective.

“What was even more surprising, was that homes with pets turned out to be 40% cleaner than those without. One theory to explain this finding is that having a pet makes us more aware of the need to clean thoroughly and more often, resulting in generally cleaner floors overall.”

Some strains of bacteria were more resistant to cleaning than others.

Streptococcus (which can cause sore throat, fever, and itchy eyes) was the most resistant to cleaning, regardless of the method used (though mopping with detergent was the most effective, reducing streptococcus’ CFUs by 45% on average). 

Bacteria types most resistant to cleaning methods

  • Streptococcus:  Reduced by 16% on average after cleaning
  • Enterococcus: Reduced by 25% on average after cleaning
  • Pseudomonas: Reduced by 46% on average after cleaning
  • Yeast/mould: Reduced by 55% on average after cleaning
  • Bacillus: Reduced by 61% on average after cleaning
  • MRSA/Staphylococcus: Reduced by 68% on average after cleaning

Dr Deborah Lee of Dr Fox Online Pharmacy said: “Everything you can see or touch is covered in bacteria. Luckily, the vast majority of bacteria are harmless, and some even have benefits for human health, such as those that live in the gut microbiome. In fact, less than 1% of bacteria cause illness in humans.” 

But Dr Lee went on to warn that, when they do cause illness, the consequences can be nasty. For instance, one of the most common bacteria types found in the experiment was staphylococcus, or MRSA (which stands for methicillin-resistant staphylococcus, meaning they’re a type of staphylococcus that can’t be killed by the antibiotic methicillin). It was more commonly found in the carpets we swabbed, especially in bedrooms. 

Dr Lee explained “Most people do not get infected with MRSA. However, it can become invasive and cause infections such as boils, abscesses, cellulitis, impetigo, and gastroenteritis. It can also cause serious infections such as toxic shock syndrome and sepsis, which can be fatal.” To avoid MRSA, Dr Lee recommends regular hand washing, covering any wounds, sores, cuts, or scrapes until they’re healed, and avoiding sharing items like razors and towels.

Dr Lee added: “In the past, it was thought unlikely [that] organisms could rise up and infect a person from the floor. But recent studies have shown this is not true – the floor is indeed a surface from which infections can be transmitted. Carpet fibres offer a great opportunity to harbour dirt and pathogens. Meanwhile, bathrooms and toilets are full of moisture and provide an ideal environment for mould and certain bacteria. As people walk on the floor, this stirs up the microorganisms lying there, kicking bacteria and viruses up into the air. Floor cleaning is just as important as cleaning worktops, door handles, handrails, bedside cabinets, and everything else we regularly touch.”

The most effective cleaning methods were steaming (which reduced bacteria by 77% on average), white vinegar mixed with water (71% bacteria reduction), and vacuuming (71% bacteria reduction), while floor wipes were the least effective (46% bacteria reduction). 

Factory Direct Flooring also spoke to Aaron Christensen, resident cleaning expert at Homeaglow, who explained common mistakes that could be hindering how effective cleaning is: “One of the most common floor cleaning mistakes is to start with the floor. Save your floor for last, or it’ll be dusty and dirty again by the time you finish cleaning everything else. Attack your cleaning in this order: lighting and high fixtures first, then windows and mirrors, surfaces, and sinks. Finish with your floors. 

“Another mistake is using the same cleaning cloth for the entire house. This can spread bacteria throughout your home. Avoid this by using different coloured cloths for different tasks. For example, don’t use the same cloth for wiping down your skirting boards and your toilet.”

© Copyright 2014–2034 Psychreg Ltd