Millions of people abide by the so-called ‘ten-second rule’ - judging food as OK to eat if it only touches the floor momentarily.
But researchers have branded the age-old convention a myth - and claim a third of us are putting our health at risk of a ‘silent killer’ by eating dirty food.
Specifically, they are concerned about the risks of harmful household bugs like E. coli and Salmonella.
Such bacteria stick to foods in an instant - meaning any food that is dropped should be binned - regardless of how long it made contact with the floor.
The ‘ten-second rule’ - judging food as OK to eat if it only touches the floor momentarily - could be lethal
A survey has found that 37 per cent of those polled would eat food that was dropped on the kitchen floor, while 38 per cent would pick it off the living room floor and eat it.
It also found nearly half of us admitted to using just an air freshener to clean the house and a quarter claimed they would only clean when they smelt something unpleasant.
Hygienist Dr Lisa Ackerley warned that our blasé attitude towards harmful household bugs is putting us at risk of E. coli and Salmonella.
The research, by cleaning technology firm Kärcher, found that 49 per cent of those surveyed relied on a broom to clean and 43 per cent used only an air freshener to clean – despite neither method killing bacteria.
As for when we clean, 59 per cent admitted they wait until visible signs of dirt.
And 27 per cent will wait for a bad odour to develop before taking action.
According to Dr Ackerley, the worst bacteria in our homes are ‘silent killers’ that we cannot see or smell but that can multiply from a single bacterium to several million in just seven hours.
As for when we clean, 59 per cent of those polled admitted they wait until visible signs of dirt . And 27 per cent will wait for a bad odour to develop before taking action
Dr Ackerley, a visiting professor of environmental health at the University of Salford, said: ‘Regular small bursts of hygienic cleaning is more important than one big spring clean.
Bacteria and viruses can’t be seen or smelt and are easily destroyed through high temperatures, meaning steam cleaning is perfect.’
Last year, Australian scientists warned there is no such thing as a 'five-second rule' either.
Rachelle Williams, of the Food Safety Information Council, said we need to consider the type of food before picking something up off the floor and eating it.
'It all comes down to bacteria,' she told Daily Mail Australia.
Meanwhile, 40 per cent of those polled said they allow their dogs to jump on the bed daily - despite only one in 10 saying they wash their dog after every walk.
Dr Ackerley added that dogs are key to carrying micro-organisms and faeces in from the outdoors - including coliform bacteria, E.Coli, Campylobacter and Salmonella.