When you think of living creatures in your house, you probably think about your pets, the occasional ant or bug, perhaps a spider or two. But you have many, many more than that. Your kitchen is filled with tiny unwanted pets…bacteria. And they are lurking in places that you might not suspect. Here’s the top five nastiest spots in your kitchen:
The Sink: 45% of kitchen sinks were found to be contaminated with coliform bacteria. Even though those sinks may get wiped down regularly, the cracks around the drain or garbage disposal are veritable bacteria nurseries, pumping out baby bacteria like there’s no tomorrow in that warm, food rich environment. Sanitize your sink a few times a week with a one tablespoon of bleach to one quart of water mixture. That will help clean up the bacteria horror show in the garbage disposal as well.
The Sponge/Rag/Brush: These are some of the most disgusting things in your kitchen, and they are probably in and around your sink where you wash your hands, rinse your fruit, fill up water glasses, etc. Or you use that rag to wipe down your countertop, then your little one comes along and rubs their hands on it, immediately transferring that nastiness to their face. NSF International reports that 75% of household sponges and rags carry Coliform bacteria (you know, like E coli.) Don’t keep your dishrags around for more than a day or the bacteria will fester. You can nuke your wet sponge for two minutes in the microwave to kill bacteria, one of the few uses for a microwave I can actually support.
The Fridge Handle/Oven Knobs: Here’s a scenario: you touch your steering wheel, which is covered with the nasty germs you picked up after pumping gas, then you come inside and put away your groceries in the fridge. An hour later you want a snack, open the fridge and grab a piece of cheese and pop it in your mouth. You just ate whatever junk was on the gas pump. Often overlooked when cleaning or forgotten about because they don’t look dirty, oven knobs, drawer knobs and especially the fridge handle are teeming with bacteria. Make sure to wipe them down regularly and wash your hands before putting food away or getting food out.
The Wooden Spoon: Wood is more porous than other types of utensil materials so it can be a haven for bacteria. Especially because you don’t want to put them in the dishwasher (they will crack eventually, either destroying the spoon or creating an even worse environment for bacteria to grow. Wash your wooden spoons in boiling soapy water and replace them at least every five years and discard them if they get black or discolored spots, as this indicates that they may be rotting. And whatever you do, don’t rub that germy sponge all over them!
The Produce Drawer: Cleaning the fridge is a giant pain in the butt. The only task I hate more than cleaning the fridge is cleaning the oven. Unfortunately a dirty fridge is a ticking time bomb, and the produce drawer is a prime candidate for making you and your family sick. Salmonella, yeast, mold, and other unwelcome guests are probably in your produce drawer right now. Compounding that problem is the fact that many items that are stored there are eaten raw, meaning you could be running that bacteria laden lemon under the faucet, then depositing it right into your water glass, salmonella and all. Wash out your produce drawers with soapy water on at least a monthly basis. And get rid of those parsnips that are still in there from the last time you cleaned it.
There are LOTS of other places in the kitchen that can harbor nasty pets – the can opener, the cutting board, the gasket in your blender. The list never ends. Be on your guard against these little baddies and keep your family safe and healthy!