Living room

Everyone has a different style and rhythm when it comes to keeping their house tidy. Some are all about routines, and love to know exactly what zone they’re cleaning on what day, with a running list of tasks that need addressing on a seasonal or even annual basis. Others simply clean as they please, scrubbing the spots that seem dirty until they’re satisfied with the end result. Whichever way you prefer to clean, though, there are likely a few spots in your home that you might be overlooking because, well, they don’t really look all that dirty — including this secretly germy culprit found in most living rooms.

According to The Spruce, many who are tidying their living rooms and dusting, vacuuming, or wiping down every surface forget one key area: all those keypads, controllers, and remotes that are touched on a regular basis. We’re not talking about your television screen, or other devices that you primarily just look at. We mean those items that get handled on a consistent basis, like the TV remote, the controllers for any gaming devices that are regularly used, the screen of a tablet that multiple people may use, etc.

Not convinced that your television remote is really that germ-covered yet? As per Networx, researchers at the University of Virginia tested remote controls for cold viruses, since germs can live on the surfaces of those remotes for up to 24 hours, and found that half of the remotes carried cold germs.

How to get those secretly germy surfaces clean

Remote control

The spots in your living room that harbor a startling amount of germs, like that TV remote, are often referred to as "high-touch" surfaces — meaning surfaces that every member of your household is constantly touching. Luckily, to keep those germs at bay, you just need to remember to incorporate some disinfecting and sanitizing of high-touch surfaces into your cleaning routine.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (via Consumer Reports), there’s a wide variety of solutions that will get the job done, including Clorox cleaners and Lysol disinfectants. You can even DIY some solutions using bleach or alcohol — just be mindful of proportions. For example, about 1 quart of water with 4 teaspoons of bleach, or an alcohol solution that’s a minimum of 70% isopropyl alcohol. Additionally, though it’s tempting to just spray those high-touch surfaces with disinfecting solution and call it a day, that’s not the most effective way to battle germs, and it may end up damaging your electronics. Instead, as Love To Know explains, you should spray a cloth with your solution of choice, and then wipe down whatever items you’re trying to clean.

According to SafeSpace, things like influenza germs can live on surfaces for up to 24 hours, while more infectious viruses like norovirus germs can linger for weeks in certain conditions. So, you’ll want to wipe down those high-touch surfaces on a regular basis, especially if someone in your household is feeling under the weather.