A Beer Pong Ball Isn't The Grossest Thing You'll Find In College Housing

We all know that college students' living spaces aren't always the cleanest. If you thought that 18 years of living at home would teach college kids a little something about cleaning up their rooms, doing laundry or throwing away 2-day-old Chinese food, well... think again. Most college kids don't even think twice about the kind of germs and parasites that might be lurking around their homes.

Do you know what the grossest thing in a college student's home is?

Is it their toilet seat? What about their kitchen sinks? Or what about a beer pong ball or a cell phone?

Well, believe it or not, a recent study conducted by NSF International -- an independent global organization that writes standards, and tests and certifies products for the construction, food, water, health sciences and consumer goods industries to minimize harmful health effects and to protect the environment -- found that beer pong balls and cell phones were actually among the items in a college student's house that were the least germy.

Yeah, I know, I'm still in shock as well.

This is the third germ study conducted by the NSF International's Applied Research Center (ARC). Their other studies include the 2011 Household Germ Study and the 2013 Kitchen Study.

While those studies are equally as informational and interesting, I find this new study that focuses on the health of college students to be the most eye-opening.

The study is centered around which germs are present in the homes of college students and exactly what areas of the homes are proven to be the germiest. Scientists from NSF tested homes of students in the Ann Arbor, Michigan area. Now, before conducting any research, the NSF scientists asked students to rank different things in their home that they thought were the germiest. The students were only able to identify four of the six most germiest items in their homes.

Students thought that dish sponges (being the most germiest), kitchen sink drains, cell phones, shower/tub drains, bathroom doorknobs and kitchen faucet handles were the things infested with bacteria.

Dish sponges (being the most germiest), shower/tub drains, kitchen sink drains, shower heads, kitchen faucet handle and coffee makers were actually amongst the top six germiest areas in college student's living spaces.

Let's break down the exact findings.

The team of scientists specifically tested for the four major groups of germs: E. coli (causes food poisoning... Hello, Chipotle?), MRSA (causes infections and resists antibiotics), coliforms (can harbor disease-causing pathogens of fecal origin), yeast and mold (can cause respiratory disease or make allergies worse). I know, I'm cringing just writing out those words...

The study shows “Smooth, non-porous surfaces with a lack of moisture have far fewer germs because the germs do not have the proper environment to grow,” said NSF International scientist Dr. Jesse Miller, Director of the Applied Research Center at NSF International.

Miller went on to explain that germs typically like surfaces that are moist or textured. Essentially, the more wet something is, the more likely it is harvest bacteria and germs, and also the more likely it is that those germs and bacteria will rapidly grow.

The scientists found elevated levels of germs, including E. coli, in the kitchen, and most students "did not make the connection between moisture and germs, and they didn't always realize germs could be in these areas," said Miller.

By now, students have probably run off to Target to grab as much cleaning supplies as their arms can handle, so here are some tips and tricks from the NSF to make sure you all keep your homes as clean as possible:

1. Microwave your dish sponges for two minutes once per day and be sure to replace them every week or two.

2. Apply disinfecting cleaner to your the sides and bottom of your kitchen sink one or twice a week.

3. Clean faucet handles daily with any type of disinfecting cleaner.

4. Disinfect your shower drain with a bathroom cleaner at least once a week.

5. Clean your coffee maker with soap and hot water after every use. Once a week, run the machine with equal parts water and white vinegar or cleaning solution.

If you would like more information about the NSF International you can visit their website.

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