Most bacteria lurk in the home. Knowledge and environment | DW

The bacteria are tiny and only measure 0.001mm. And they are living beings in their own right, even if they consist of only one cell. They reproduce by division and have everything they need to live: cellular machines that produce proteins to supply energy and genetic material. Bacteria are self-sufficient.

Arm yourself with mop and washer-dryer

Most of us probably see bacteria as disgusting. They are everywhere, especially at home. According to “Statista”, the normal mop is at the top of the bacteria list: on the “Saubermacher” there is an average of one billion bacteria per ten square centimeters. A billion? That’s one followed by nine zeros: 1,000,000,000. While the well-proven broom should clean everything clean and pure, it literally attracts bacteria.

The house is an ideal collecting tank for bacteria

The household sponge, popular in many countries and primarily intended to ensure cleanliness and purity in the kitchen, is not that clean by itself. If we have already used the household sponge more often, it has 100 million bacteria per ten square centimeters: 100,000,000.

Household sponges and rags provide an ideal environment for bacteria, as they are almost always moist and various food particles accumulate in their fibers. So we use it to clean all kinds of surfaces or we use it for washing dishes.

Cleaning sponges with detergent in hot water or in the microwave can reduce the number of bacteria in the short term, but the bacteria have the ability to survive.

One of the most common bacteria found in sponges, for example, belongs to the Acinetobacter group, and these are often resistant to antibiotics. If they enter the body through wounds, for example, they can trigger diseases such as pneumonia. They have an easy time, especially in older people and people with weak immune systems.

Someone is rinsing a bowl with a household sponge

Household sponges must be disposed of regularly

Off with the sponge

The sponges should therefore be changed regularly. There are no general recommendations on when to replace sponges, but most sponges can be seen or smelled. So they should definitely end up in the trash immediately.

Incidentally, there are about 124,000 bacteria per 10 square centimeters in the bin, 71,000 on the doorknob, and, according to Statista, about 33,000 bacteria per 10 square centimeters on the edge of the toilet.

Surprisingly, there are far more bacteria in the refrigerator than in the toilet. That’s about 113,000 by ten square centimeters. So for most of us, the bathroom seems to be cleaner and more hygienic than the refrigerator, where we store a lot of our groceries.

A heavy thing

The bacteria that are inside and on us weigh a lot: about 1.5 to 2 kilograms. In addition to the intestines, the tongue, pharynx and gum pockets are popular places for bacteria to live because they provide a near-perfect environment. American researchers have found approximately 4,150 different bacterial genes in the pharynx, nearly 8,000 on the tongue, and also more than 14,000 different bacterial genes in the gum pockets, and these can therefore lead to severe inflammation.

“Good” bacteria and “bad” bacteria.

A total of about 5,000 bacterial species are known and not all of them are dangerous. However, 200 bacteria can cause disease. These include, for example, diphtheria and cholera, tuberculosis and whooping cough. But the other bacteria are quite useful. For example, they help our digestive system function.

They supply many enzymes to the intestinal flora. They help us break down our food, break it down and thus support our digestion. Bacteria break down some carbohydrates in the large intestine and convert them into fatty acids. Our body can then use it as an energy supplier. All of these steps require a well-functioning interaction between the bacteria and intestinal cells.

Bacteria find enough food in our body and help us in return. We have a thick bacterial film on our skin that protects us from invaders. Bacteria protect our body from pathogens. They also help us with the immune system because they produce important vitamins. We couldn’t survive without bacteria.

The fight against “bad” bacteria.

In case of bacterial infections, the doctor usually prescribes antibiotics. They kill pathogens or inhibit their growth. They can no longer multiply unless the bacteria develop resistance. Bacteria are extremely imaginative.

So that antibiotics can no longer harm them, they change their metabolism, for example, and thus develop dangerous resistances against which antibiotics are powerless. The bacteria themselves are extremely resistant. In this way, some manage to survive 10,000 times the dose of radioactivity that is lethal to us humans.

Bacteria are important for the baby

Even at birth, bacteria play an important role. In the birth canal, the newborn comes into contact with the mother’s bacteria. They help the newborn build their immune system – a smart move by nature.

This is different for Caesarean delivery. They do not ingest the mother’s bacteria. Babies with caesarean section are more susceptible to infections, their immune systems are not as strong as that of babies born in the normal way. They have to develop their own strategy to ensure that their bodies absorb important bacteria and thus protect themselves from various diseases in the first place.

So bacteria don’t deserve to be put together and described as “ugh” and “oh, what a disgust”.

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