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Hidden breeding grounds for bacteria in your home revealed

by Jeff Rossen and Jovanna Billington / / Source: TODAY

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It's spring cleaning time, but experts say many of us are missing important little spots that are breeding grounds for dangerous bacteria. To reveal those hidden places, TODAY national investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen went germ-hunting in his own home, equipped with rubber gloves, test swabs and a bacteria meter.

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Experts say that any reading over 100 on the meter is considered a fail. Here's how Rossen's home measured up in three key areas:

The front door: Rossen has his kids remove their shoes at the front door so they won't track dirt through the house. And swabbing his daughter's shoes showed that's a good idea; the reading was nearly three times the acceptable limit. Bacteria reading: 290

Jeff Rossen swabs his daughter's shoe for bacteria.TODAY

The toothbrush holder: Another spot that experts say is often overlooked. Sure enough, Rossen's children's toothbrush holder was nearly six times the acceptable limit. "We are going to be cleaning this," Rossen vowed. Bacteria reading: 587

The refrigerator shelf: Experts say such foods as raw meat and spilled milk, combined with cold temperatures, create a perfect environment for bacteria to thrive. Bacteria reading: 904.

Jeff Rossen swabs his refrigerator shelf.TODAY

"We are talking about bacteria like E. coli, salmonella," said Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency room physician at New York City's Lenox Hill Hospital. "These bacteria can lead you to end up in the emergency room with vomiting, diarrhea and high fever."

Another place many of us forget to clean is the laundry basket. Experts say one of the best ways to clean is a simple sponge, soap and hot water — and those sponges should be cleaned weekly.

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