The 5 Germiest Places in Your Kitchen

by November 13, 2013

Germs are in our homes!  And germs make us sick.  In their optimal habitats, some bacterias can divide every 20 minutes and breed.  Our immune system protects us against most microorganisms that make us sick.  However, there are millions of different kinds of germs, and some of them, can mutate into things our bodies don’t recognize and those can become the viruses that make us sick.  And those germs are in our kitchens!

Probably one of the busiest places in your home is your kitchen, so naturally it only makes sense that those dirty virus causing germs are hanging out waiting to prey on our immune systems.  But we can clean our kitchens and use a bit of elbow grease to rid ourselves of unwanted germs for a healthier cleaner kitchen environment.

Soap and water.  Bleach and water.  Disinfecting wipes.  All are germ deterrents that will help you keep your germiest places germ free.  Common sense is also a very good germ deterrent.

Where Are Those Germs Hiding

Your kitchen sponge is the germiest thing in your house. Microwave the sponge. When researchers at the USDA tested common methods of disinfecting sponges—soaking them in bleach or lemon juice, microwaving, or washing in the dishwasher—they found that microwaving for one minute zapped the most germs, followed by a trip through the dishwasher. Every evening, after the last dishes are cleaned, zap that germ laden sponge.

Next to your sponge your kitchen sink comes in second place for germs.  Have a spray bottle of cleaner handy, and spray the sink after each use; then wipe and rinse with hot water.

There are 200 times more fecal bacteria on the average home cutting board than on the toilet seat, according to research by Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona, and a nationally known expert on household germs.

Your cutting board comes in third for germs.  To get it clean, run it through the dishwasher; spray it with straight 5 percent vinegar, and let it set overnight; microwave it on high for 30 seconds; or swab it with alcohol.

Scrub your garbage can and indoor recycle bins.  Emptying them isn’t cleaning them. Regularly scrub them to make sure germs aren’t germinating.

Take a close look at the edges of the door on your dishwasher. Many are breeding grounds for mold and mildew. The same goes for the rubber cushioning that surrounds most refrigerator doors.

But what about the germs we also bring-in to our kitchens?  The germs we purchase (free of charge) on our foods we shop for.

Unwashed hands are the most common cross-contamination agent between raw meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, unwashed vegetables and ready-to-eat foods in our own homes.

Where the Germs Come From

Every year about 76 million people in the U.S. become ill from pathogens or disease-causing substances in food — 5,000 of whom end up dying from it.

There are three ways that bacteria can enter our kitchens (and therefore our mouths): before, during and after kitchen preparation and cooking:

  • Before: It’s contaminated before we even bring the food home.
  • During: it’s contaminated sometime during the preparation and cooking.
  • After: it’s contaminated post-preparation and/or during storage.

Here is a comparison of what were perceived to be the germiest items in the kitchen versus the actual germiest items (ranked from highest to lowest in germ count):

Bathtubs, computers, kitchen sinks, and doorknobs don’t leave and return to your home multiple times each day.  Wash your hands for 20 to 30 seconds.

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