New Research Reveals Just How Many Germs Kids Bring Home from School

August 22, 2022

Back-to-school season is go-time for germs, which is why the Clorox® brand is teaming up with Allyson Felix to help parents level up their cleaning routines for an unstoppable year ahead

OAKLAND, Calif., Aug. 22, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- The first day of school is go-time for parents, but it's also go-time for germs. New research from the Clorox® brand found that the clothes kids wore to school came back 28 times germier than the average toilet seat.1 What's more, the study found kids' backpacks are often the most neglected by parents when it comes to sanitization, and it shows. On average, kids' backpacks clocked in 31 times germier than the average cell phone.1

These germs can stop families in their tracks, but parents can't afford to be slowed down. By adopting a holistic germ-prevention strategy, parents can help prevent the spread of illness-causing germs on surfaces. That's why Clorox is teaming up with the world's most decorated woman in track and field history, gender equality advocate, entrepreneur and mom, Allyson Felix. Together, they're helping to educate parents on germ spread in order to help keep households running smoothly for an unstoppable year ahead.  

"My whole life I've had to push through invisible barriers to get to where I am today. Aside from any accomplishments on the track or as an entrepreneur, my most challenging and important job has and always will be my role as a mom. It requires fierce determination for parents to juggle their families, careers and passions – especially amid the back-to-school season with all the added responsibilities it brings," said Allyson Felix, 11-time medalist and Clorox spokesperson. "Simply put, parents need easy and effective solutions to help prevent the spread of germs on surfaces and stay on top of their game. That's why I'm proud to join Clorox and show parents how unstoppable they can be when they start clean."

"At Clorox, we recognize that parents do it all these days and germs can hold them back from all of life's possibilities," said Stacy Stokes, Vice President of Marketing at The Clorox Company. "As a leader in public health, we understand the importance of both physical and mental wellness, and are proud to provide parents with tools, resources and products to help maintain a cleaner and safer environment where their families can thrive."

Swab Study

To uncover just how many germs kids bring home with them from school, Clorox conducted a swab study with parents of school-aged kids, which included testing a variety of surfaces in the home and on school supplies. Swab results* indicated:

  • The average couch is as germy as a dog's tennis ball and twice as germy as the fridge1 door/handle.1
  • The clothes kids wore to school were 28 times germier than the average toilet seat.1
  • Kids' backpacks are 31 times germier than the average cell phone.1
  • Hard surfaces like counters, TV remotes, gaming controllers and fridge handles were roughly 26 times germier than the average bathroom doorknob.1
Survey of U.S. Parents

To further uncover the true impact germs can have on families, Clorox also conducted a nationwide survey among 1,000 parents of school-aged children. Survey results** indicated:

  • Millennial parents of color often experience greater impact from illness with 85% reporting that they had to take a sick day or unpaid time off due to a sick child within the last year compared to only 78% of white millennial parents.
  • More than two-thirds (69%) of parents are concerned about their children bringing germs home from school and more than half (54%) expect their kids to get them sick.
  • 42% of millennial parents of color reported feeling nervous about the back-to-school season compared to only 32% of white millennial parents.
  • Moms are more likely to be stressed about back-to-school (38% vs. 24%) while dads are more likely to be happy (67% vs. 39%).
  • More than half of all parents surveyed (54%) are stressed at the thought of their child having to stay home.

Overcoming hurdles like illness-causing germs requires a holistic approach. Fortunately, Clorox offers simple and effective solutions to help prevent the spread of germs on surfaces. To shop convenient back-to-school solutions like Clorox® Disinfecting Wipes and Clorox® Disinfecting Mist and to learn more, please visit

Research Methodology

*Swab Study: On behalf of Clorox, Ketchum Analytics conducted a swab test and three-day online bulletin board discussion comprised of 30 individuals who were parents of children under the age of 18 and currently in school, summer school or summer camp. Ketchum Analytics was supported by market research recruiter, Schlesinger Group and swab analysis was performed by Perritt Laboratories. The swab test and online bulletin board was fielded from June 13-17, 2022. The swab test required participants to swab 9 locations in their home that were analyzed to unveil which had the highest CFUs* (germ growth). Participants swabbed surfaces after their children returned home from school and interacted with the surfaces. Germs referenced in this study are defined as bacteria, yeast and mold.

**Survey: On behalf of Clorox, Ketchum Analytics conducted an online survey of 1,570 total Americans comprised of 1,000 nationally representative Americans, including 334 parents and an additional 532 People of Color (POC) Millennials, 390 of which are parents. The survey was fielded from July 6-11, 2022 at the 95% confidence level and with a margin of error (MOE) of +/-3%.

About The Clorox Company

The Clorox Company (NYSE: CLX) champions people to be well and thrive every single day. Its trusted brands, which include Brita®, Burt's Bees®, Clorox®, Fresh Step®, Glad®, Hidden Valley®, Kingsford®, Liquid-Plumr®, Pine-Sol® and Rainbow Light®, can be found in about nine of 10 U.S. homes and internationally with brands such as Ajudin®, Clorinda®, Chux® and Poett®. Headquartered in Oakland, California, since 1913, Clorox was one of the first U.S. companies to integrate ESG into its business reporting, with commitments in three areas: Healthy Lives, Clean World and Thriving Communities. Visit to learn more.


1 The National Science Foundation's 2011 International Germ Study, Germiest Places in the Home 2011 conducted by NSF International from December 2010 - January 2011.

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