UNICEF study reveals more germs on family sofa than toilet seat

For the amount of energy parents spend worrying about their young kids falling ill or hurting themselves, they could invest that time cleaning a select few household items and be far more effective.

Because a new U.K. study, conducted by UNICEF and cleaning brand Domestos, reveals that the areas of a home most germ-ridden may be some of the least expected.

While a third of people think the bathroom is the dirtiest room in the house, microbiologists found the average family sofa has a bacterial count that is a staggering 12 times more than the typical toilet seat. The family sofa earns a respectable 19,200 germs per 100 cm², while a toilet seat comes in at a paltry 1,600 germs per 100 cm².

Also see: Germiest part of your kitchen revealed

Other bacteria-ridden household items include fridge handles, toys, video game controllers and children's play equipment like trampolines, bicycles and footballs, reports

However, as dirty as all these household items may be, cleaning them may not be the most effective way to stop the spread of illnesses.

"Hand washing is probably the most cost-effective and simple way to reduce disease," says environmental health expert Lisa Ackerley. "Literally, our safety, and that of others, is in our hands."

Also see: Top 10 germiest places in your home

The study also found trampolines were by far the dirtiest household item with bacteria levels of 640,000 per 100cm², including potentially harmful E.coli and Enterobacteriaceae. And fridge handles were more than four times as dirty as toilet seats.

According to U.S. research conducted last year, television remotes are the most bacteria-ridden items in hotel rooms, even more so than bathroom door handles. The research also found that bedside lamps were were rife with germs.