Hidden Germs In The Kitchen

By:    Published: October 9, 2012

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The kitchen is probably one of the busiest places in any household - you cook there, you clean there, you eat there and you tend to gather there with friends and family. But did you know your kitchen might be contaminated with germs and bacteria that you're completely unaware of? And no, they aren't just lurking around your kitchen garbage. If you want to stop the spread of disease and infection within your household, taking care of your kitchen is a good place to start.

The Dirtiest Thing In Your Kitchen

This may come as a shock to most people, but the dirtiest item in your kitchen is not the trashcan. And it isn't the garbage disposal, nor is it the kitchen sink. The dirtiest, germ infested item in your kitchen is: the sponge. Yes, your kitchen sponge is the most germ-laden item in your entire kitchen. According to the USDA, a dirty kitchen sponge can harbor various foodborne pathogens, yeasts and molds. The second dirtiest item in the kitchen is: the dish towel.

Since both a sponge and a dish towel are used to absorb moisture, they are also a great place to absorb germs. Sponges happen to be especially notorious for harboring harmful germs, and when using your sponge to clean other areas of the kitchen, you are merely transferring germs from one surface to another.

Try these useful tips to eliminate the germs on these common kitchen items:

  • The USDA recommends heating your sponge for a few minutes in the microwave to kill hidden germs and bacteria.
  • Try to ring out your sponge and dish rags as much as possible after use.
  • Replace sponges frequently; don't just wait till they look dirty.
  • Hang dish rags properly so that they can dry after each use. Replace them once a week and wash them in the washing machine.

Germs On What You Eat

The foods you are cooking and eating can lead to food borne illnesses if not properly maintained and taken care of. Here are some things to consider after coming home with grocery bags full of food:

  • Do not let foods sit out in the open if they are perishable; refrigerate them immediately. The longer you leave your food out, the greater the chance that it becomes unsafe to eat.
  • Make sure you are properly cooking foods, especially chicken, to prevent sickness.
  • Wash produce thoroughly with a produce brush before cooking or consuming. You may think they are clean from the grocery, but there is a possibility they still have chemicals, like pesticides, on them. Also, there is a slight chance that rodents may have relieved themselves on your produce during storage or shipping.
  • Never defrost food out in the open on the kitchen counter. Use the fridge, cold water or the microwave.
  • Always make sure to wash your hands thoroughly before eating or preparing food.

Wipe Down Kitchen Surfaces

Regularly wipe down kitchen surfaces with a clean rag and disinfectant spray. The sink, cabinet knobs, faucet handles, refrigerator handles, trashcans, and door handles and knobs are common areas in the kitchen for germs to hide since they are constantly being touched. Another item in your kitchen you shouldn't forget to clean is the kitchen telephone.

Properly Maintain That Cutting Board

The cutting board is another kitchen item that can hold many hidden germs that most people are unaware of. Any cracks or crevices in your cutting board are the perfect place for bacteria to nestle and grow. Eliminate these germs immediately by properly washing your cutting board with anti-bacterial soap and wiping it down with a clean dish rag. If you are using the cutting board to cut and prepare raw meats, make sure you wash it thoroughly before using it for anything else.

More Tips To Avoid Hidden Germs In The Kitchen

  • Do not let dirty dishes sit in the sink. This can allow up to thousands of bacteria to form on them.
  • Wash utensils and cooking items with hot water and anti-bacterial dish soap.
  • Baking soda and vinegar can be used as effective cleaning agents if you want to avoid harmful chemicals in other household products.
  • Don't leave items in the fridge and forget about them for the next five years.
  • Make sure you regularly wash your kitchen rugs as these can also be breeding grounds for a host of harmful bacteria.
  • Properly clean and maintain your kitchen cleaning tools, including your mop. A dirty cleaning tool will only spread germs rather than get rid of them.
  • Don't forget to sweep the kitchen floors, and clean dusty surfaces like light fixtures and around the stove exhaust to prevent airborne allergens.

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