We have learned from Detective Foodsafe® about the importance of cleaning and disinfecting our kitchens to reduce germs lurking there.
But what exactly are the dirtiest surfaces in the kitchen that need your attention and sometimes constant vigilance?
Detective Foodsafe gives us the rundown on the germiest surfaces so we can become successful germ fighters too.
The 6 Germiest Places in the Kitchen
It is a no-brainer that the kitchen can be a real source of germs that can lead to food poisoning.
Our kitchens are the hub of our family life. People go in and out of the kitchen for everything, not just to eat. The kitchen is probably the highest traffic room in your house.
This means that germs are being tracked through often without our even realizing it.
Detective Foodsafe tells us the germiest places in our kitchen and how you can join the germ fighting team.
1. Kitchen Sink
The sink can be laden with microorganisms from washing other contaminated items, including foods and utensils.Kitchen sinks are germ warehouses because they are high moisture areas and bacteria thrives in a moist environment.
One study found the kitchen sink contained more microorganisms than the bathroom sink (or toilet). They found as many as 500,000 bacteria per square inch in the sink.
How many times do you use your kitchen sink for things other than cleaning food and dishes? Watering plants, cleaning stained clothes, bathing the dog, washing paint brushes or playdough-covered hands is not uncommon in many family homes.
Especially at risk is the faucet handle or sprayer because we usually have dirty, contaminated hands when we touch them but don’t always remember to clean them.
The drain strainer is also full of germs as it catches everything that enters the sink and we don’t tend to sanitize it as often as we should. Have you turned the strainer over lately to see if there is any mold build up on the rubber piece due to constant moisture contact?
2. Sponges and Washcloths
Many people use sponges for kitchen clean ups preferring them to washcloths. One study found that within the 14 sponges they tested, there were 362 different microorganisms present.
Sponges hold pathogens and are very difficult to clean not to mention we tend to keep them for long periods of time without properly cleaning or sanitizing away the germs. The same thing applies to our dishcloths.
Pathogens found in our kitchen sponges have what has been termed “pathogenic potential” due to the type of organisms found in them. Essentially, these particular germs are disease causing.
Sponges and washcloths may not look dirty to the naked eye but are housing bacteria that could make you sick.
Boiling or microwaving your sponges can reduce the number of bacteria but a regular disposal of sponges is a good idea. Washing dishcloths in hot water with detergent and even a bleach rinse will help kill bacteria.
Some experts believe that you should replace (or disinfect) sponges and dishcloths daily or no less frequently than weekly. If the sponge starts to smell, definitely throw it out.
3. Smartphones and Other Electronic Devices Used in The Kitchen
We generally take our smartphones with us everywhere…and we mean everywhere, including the bathroom.
One study of 27 cell phones found 17,000 bacteria types per phone including bacteria that causes food poisoning.
How often do you clean your phone thoroughly or the tablet on which you view recipes while cooking and also carry into the bathroom? Do you wash your hands after each time you touch the screen?
There are sanitizing electronic wipes with which you can use to clean your devices regularly.
4. Handles, Buttons and Knobs
Our kitchens have many knobs and handles. There are door knobs, cabinet pulls, drawer knobs, refrigerator and freezer handles, dishwasher pulls, microwave buttons and handle, cookie jar or bread box handles, coffee maker buttons, and the list goes on and on.
How often do we clean all of these various knobs and buttons after we have touched food or other sources of potential germs?
Refrigerator handles were found to have staphylococcus aureus (Staph) on them in many of the households tested.
Stove knobs also were found to be another place we tend to touch with dirty or germ contaminated hands. If you cook eggs for breakfast, do you wash your hands after you crack the eggs before you turn on the heat to the cooking pan?
The same is true, and perhaps more so for many, for the handle and buttons on the microwave. We tend to mix, prepare, and then push buttons without always washing our hands. We also pop in a snack after a long day without washing our hands first.
5. Cutting Boards
Depending on the material of the cutting board in your kitchen and the amount of usage or age, there may be grooves that have developed over time that are now making good homes for bacteria.
Cutting boards made of soft woods tend to get divots more easily than those from harder types of wood. Bamboo boards absorb less moisture and resist scratching better than other woods so is a good choice.
It is important to use different cutting boards for different foods – raw versus ready to eat. It is also a good idea to put your cutting board into the dishwasher regularly to disinfect them.
Always wash with soap and hot water after use. You can disinfect your cutting board with a fresh solution of 1 Tablespoon of liquid chlorine bleach mixed with 1 gallon of water.
If your cutting board has many grooves from sharp knives, it may be time to replace it.
6. Counter Tops
Counter tops in the kitchen tend to be catch-all places for many items other than food including mail, shoes, keys, grocery bags, back packs, cats, and other things that can contaminate the food preparation surface.
We all clean the counter after we use it and can see a spill that needs wiping, but do you disinfect it frequently with a disinfectant? Do you use soap and water before all food preparation or assume it is clean?
We don’t always know what was placed on the counter earlier in the day before we make dinner when family members can be using the counter for various non-food related tasks, so cleaning the prep surface before you handle any food is a good habit to adopt.
Other Areas Where Germs Lurk
In addition to the top areas listed above, there are a several other areas of concern for you to remember to clean in your kitchen to reduce the growth of bacteria and mold spores.
- Coffee pot reservoir and the coffee maker
- Pens and pencils you use in the kitchen. Most of us have a pen we use to keep our grocery list or jot down a phone number that gets frequent dirty hand touches. Get in the habit of wiping that off too.
- Detective Foodsafe has a kitchen scissors that regularly gets added to the dishwasher for disinfecting.
- The pump on the hand soap. Clean the bottle and the pump regularly to keep it free from debris and bacteria.
- Pet items need to be washed frequently. You can put their bowls in the dishwasher at least once a week to keep them healthy too.
Do you have more to add to the list?
Use Detective Foodsafe’s recipe for a bleach solution that will help you disinfect all the germiest places in your kitchen.
Even the cleanest house will have germs. Doing things that can reduce these microorganisms including frequent hand washing can protect you and your family from becoming a victim.