10 Common Bacteria Found in Homes

January 15, 2020
Jayson Mueller

Believe it or not, your home is FULL of bacteria.

No matter how hard we try, getting rid of bacteria is a futile task.

Bacterial are in the air we breathe and they live on every nook and cranny in our house and are on everything we encounter outdoors.

Not all bacteria are bad.

We even have bacteria that live in our bodies that help with basic life functions like digesting food and keeping our body systems balanced.

We even need to be exposed to bacteria to help our bodies develop strong immune systems.

And while there are bacteria that we want, there are also types of bacteria that can be really bad for us.

When we maintain our homes through cleaning, one of our goals is to eliminate bad bacteria and reduce our potential exposure to microorganisms that might make us sick.

Before you run out and hit every surface in your house with disinfecting wipes, and wrap your body in a hazmat suit when you go outside, it is helpful to learn a little about common bacteria and how they can be managed in our living environments.

In this article, we’ll look at 10 common types of bacteria that we find in our homes, and how they can impact us.

We’ll also give you hints on how to clean and what products you can use to reduce these bacteria in our homes.


Illustration Of Salmonela

Salmonella is a very common bacteria.

As a matter of fact, it is so common that you may not realize that it actually lives in your intestines.

Salmonella is one of the many types of bacteria that your body uses to help digest food.

It is also found in the intestines of many other animals, including your household pets and animals that you may encounter in your backyard.

Salmonella is also carried on the skin of pets like birds and reptiles.

We easily bring Salmonella into our homes on our hands, feet and it can even be found on fruits and veggies that we store in our refrigerators.

Salmonella is one of the most commonly found bacteria in our bathrooms and can be spread to surfaces and our food if we don’t wash our hands after using the restroom.

Salmonella is one of the leading causes of food poisoning.

Contaminated fruits and vegetables are the most common modes of infection since they aren’t usually heated enough to kill bacteria. Illness caused by Salmonella is called Salmonellosis.

Individuals that get Salmonellosis may experience an upset stomach (including cramps), fever, pain, and diarrhea.

To avoid infection from Salmonella, first, start by washing your hands with soap and warm water every time you use the restroom.

Also wash your hands after touching pets, especially if you have birds or reptiles.

This will help you avoid passing Salmonella around to the other surfaces in your home.

Make sure that you wash fresh fruits and veggies before eating them, and make sure that food preparation surfaces are wiped down with a disinfecting wipe or a weak solution of bleach and water.

Escherichia Coli

Illustration of Bacteria

Or E.coli as you may better know it.

This bacteria is another bacteria, like Salmonella, that is perfectly healthy and safe when it lives in your intestines, but can be harmful.

E.coli is an important member of the bacterial community that lives in your gut, and in the intestines of many other animals.

It is important for helping your body digest food and absorbs nutrients.

E.coli can enter your home in much the same way as Salmonella.

It is so common in the environment that you likely bring it in on your shoes, and your pets carry E.coli bacteria in their fur, paws and even their mouth.

E.coli is also incredibly common in our bathrooms and can be spread to other places in your home due to poor hygiene practices.

E.coli is another common culprit in food poisoning, but many people are surprised to know that it can also contribute to pneumonia and urinary tract infections.

As a matter of fact, most urinary tract infections are caused by E.coli bacteria.

E.coli can also cause diarrhea, cramps, vomiting, and in it’s worse form can actually lead to kidney failure.

Fortunately, E.coli is very easy to manage in our homes.

Make sure that you use good hygiene practices like washing your hands with soap and warm water after you use the bathroom or play with your pets.

Since food is the most common way that E.coli is passed, make sure cooking and food prep surfaces are cleaned with a disinfectant wipe or a weak bleach solution.


Illustration Of Campylobacter

This group of bacteria is the leading cause of diarrheal illness in the United States and is very common in our kitchens.

Campylobacter bacteria are very common and are found in the organs and muscles of many livestock animals, birds and are also present in soils.

In animals, campylobacter rarely presents any symptoms and is relatively harmless in most animals.

However, when they are transferred to humans campylobacter can cause substantial distress.

Campylobacter infections usually start two to five days after exposure. It takes very few bacteria to cause an infection.

The symptoms of Campylobacter infection include nausea, vomiting, and intestinal distress.

It can also be very dangerous for individuals with weakened immune systems due to medical conditions or medications.

This is another bacteria that can be passed on your hands.

Wash your hands well with soap and warm water while preparing food, before eating and after handling food scraps and garbage.

Make sure that you clean surfaces that have been used to prepare food with hot water, and a proper cleaning product.


Illustration Of Pseudomonas

Pseudomonas is a very common family of bacteria and is found all over the world.

This family of bacteria can be found in soil, water, on plants and healthy people, often have Pseudomonas bacteria living on their skin, in their hair and in places like their armpits.

In general, Pseudomonas bacteria are harmless, and our bodies are so used to being exposed to them, that almost all of us have built up strong natural protection against them.

However, for individuals that are immune compromised or who may not be healthy, the Pseudomonas bacteria can cause a number of distressing symptoms including a skin rash, headache, achy joints, urinary tract infections, coughs, and even pneumonia.

Keeping places like your bathroom clean is one of the easiest ways to prevent Pseudomonas from becoming dangerous in your home.

Because it is so common in the environment, it is also a good idea to wash fruits and veggies well, before eating them.

Basic cleaning activities for most healthy people will be sufficient to limit harmful Pseudomonas.


Illustration Of Bacteria

Like Pseudomonas, Micrococcus is a very common genus of bacteria that has many different species.

These bacteria are found all around us, including in the dust we find in our carpets and on our furniture in our homes.

For most healthy people, Micrococcus bacteria are harmless and are often found living without harm on our skin, and in our mouths and noses

For individuals that are immune compromised, Micrococcus, particularly Micrococcus luteus can cause a wide range of health concerns. Micrococcus luteus has been known to cause health issues like pneumonia and meningitis.

To minimize your risk from Micrococcus bacteria, make sure that you are cleaning your home regularly.

This includes dusting and vacuuming on a regular basis and wiping down counters, window sills and other surfaces with soap and water.

Because these bacteria are so common and are found just about everywhere, you likely won’t ever get rid of them from your home, but you can manage their populations, and ensure that the only Micrococcus bacteria you come in contact with are the ones that won’t cause you harm.

Staphylococcus aureus

Bacteria Illustration

This bacteria is also very common, and under normal circumstances is relatively harmless to most people.

Staphylococcus aureus or S.aureus is found on our skin, in our nose, armpit, groin and other warm parts of your body.

When we shed dead skin or cough, these bacteria can enter our environment and can also live in carpets, in the dust, and on surfaces.

This bacteria has a dark side, however. It is the most common cause of staph infections.

Staphylococcus bacteria are spread through contact with body fluids or if bacteria enter a cut or other skin injury.

Staph infections are very common and most are minor and result in minor skin irritations.

However, under the right conditions, they can cause painful, swollen and pussy infections, boils, and abscesses.

For the immune compromised, staph infections can be considerably more serious and can lead to pneumonia, blood infections, and even death.

Staphylococcus aureus can easily be managed in your home by keeping surfaces clean.

Vacuum and dust often to reduce the presence of these bacteria in your home.

Periodically, use disinfecting wipes on surfaces such as door handles, railings, sink and toilet handles and light switches to prevent bacteria from passing from person to person.

Streptococcus pyogenes

Illustration of Streptococcus Pyogenes

Like many of the other bacteria that make us ill, Streptococcus pyogenes is a bacteria that lives, with little to no impact on our health, in our noses and throats.

Most people carry this bacteria in their bodies without ever showing signs that they are sick.

However, this tiny little bacteria have a very dark side and are the cause of many dangerous and scary childhood illnesses.

Streptococcus pyogenes is the most common cause of sore throats. While in healthy people or adults, this isn’t a problem.

However, for children and the immune compromised, Streptococcus pyogenes can cause a host of different illnesses such as scarlet fever, impetigo, and strep throat.

These diseases are easily passed from an infected person to a healthy person through touching and sharing things like toys, cups and eating utensils.

Streptococcus pyogenes can easily be managed in your home with some basic and simple cleaning techniques.

First, since this bacteria is most problematic when a person is sick, make sure that if you have a child suffering from strep throat, you encourage them to wash their hands frequently with warm water and soap.

You should also take time when you have a strep infection in your home, to thoroughly clean toys, doorknobs, railings and light switches with a disinfecting agent like bleach or antibacterial wipes.

Streptococcus pneumoniae

Illustration Of Bacteria

Streptococcus pneumonia or also known as pneumococcus is an opportunistic bacteria.

It lives within our lungs and on our mucous membranes.

We don’t benefit from it as we do from other bacteria, but for the most part, it is harmless and we live our daily lives not knowing it is there.

However, under the right conditions, this bacteria can become troublesome and is another cause of numerous illnesses affecting adults and children.

Pneumococcus is the leading cause of community-acquired pneumonia.

Unlike other types of pneumonia caused by bacteria, pneumococcus pneumonia is easily passed from one person to another by coughing, sneezing, and close contact.

Pneumococcus can also cause illnesses such as bronchitis, and meningitis.

Like the bacteria that causes strep throat, Pneumococcus is common in homes and schools where children are present and can pass rapidly through a classroom or from family member to family member.

Even in healthy individuals, Pneumococcus can go from a minor illness to a serious illness very quickly if not managed.

While the illness that Pneumococcus causes are scary, they can easily be avoided by keeping your home and person clean.

Make sure that you practice and teach your children to practice good hygiene like frequent hand washing and using tissues.

If you are treating a Pneumococcus illness in your home, use a disinfecting cleaner to wipe down surfaces, doorknobs, light switches, and even toys.

This will keep these easy to pass bacteria from impacting everyone in your house.


Common Bacteria

Bacillus bacteria are a group of bacteria that are found commonly in the environment but can cause illness in humans.

Like some of the other bacteria groups that we have mentioned, Bacillus has many different types of bacteria that have different purposes in our environment.

It is one of the more common bacteria groups in our environment, and it is not generally found in our body unless we are ill from an infection.

Bacillus bacteria are found in soil, dust, on plants and can be present in the air.

Bacillus cereus is a species that causes the most difficulty for humans.

This bacteria is a hardy bacteria that likes to grow on foods and can cause the typical symptoms of food poisoning such as vomiting, fever, and diarrhea.

What makes these bacteria particularly difficult to manage, is that they have a tough outer coating and they are capable of living under more extreme temperature conditions.

Like with other foodborne bacteria, the key to avoiding illness from Bacillus bacteria is good cleaning methods in your kitchen.

Make sure that you are not using the same tools for meats and vegetables.

Wash your hands frequently while cooking and when you are done with food preparation. Keep your kitchen clean, and wipe down surfaces with a disinfectant or an antimicrobial product.

Clostridium perfringens

Bad Bacteria

Another common bacteria that is found in the environment and in the intestines of many animals is Clostridium perfringens.

This bacteria is found all around us and in most cases is harmless.

However, when this bacteria is exposed to an environment that is rich in its preferred food sources (high starch and protein foods), it can rapidly multiply become a nuisance in the kitchen.

Clostridium perfringens is a hardy bacteria, however, it takes a lot of this bacteria to make a person sick.

When this bacteria enters the intestines, it releases a toxin that causes gastroenteritis.

The most common symptom of infection from this bacteria is diarrhea.

When not manage, diarrhea can cause dehydration and weakness that is the cause of many hospital visits due to food poisoning. This bacteria is easily treated with antibiotics.

The easiest way to reduce the risk of infection from Clostridium perfringens is to keep your kitchen clean.

Do not use the same tools for raw meats and raw fruits and vegetables.

Use hot water and soap to clean cooking tools and wipe kitchen surfaces down using a disinfecting product.

Also, make sure that you properly cool and reheat foods, particularly meat, potatoes, and rice, to kill any bacteria that may have found your leftovers.

Bacteria: Uninvited Houseguests

There you have it. Ten bacteria that usually live peacefully with us, day today.

However, when the conditions are right, they can make our lives miserable and uncomfortable.

And while it sounds scary that we live among so many organisms that can make us sick, it is important to remember that our bodies generally do an amazing job of protecting us from illness.

We can do our part to protect ourselves and our loved ones by keeping our home clean and tidy.

Good, basic, housekeeping skills are an easy way to prevent illness and to stop the spread of illness if it should enter your home.

You don’t have to work hard, just use a little common sense, some soap and water, and vacuum and dust regularly.

If you spend a little time each week to do these chores, you’ll find that more often than not, you’ll be healthy and will live in harmony with the bacteria around us.

Jayson Mueller
Jayson Mueller loves his house in the Bay Area. Over the last ten years, he's gone from theory to practice – researching the best upgrades and repairs for his house while trying to do as much as he can on his own. He's happy to help you make your house a home as well!

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