The kitchen has more places for cooties than anywhere else in your home – even more than your bathroom, on average. We are going to look at those spots where bacteria love to hide and give you some tips and tools to keep them clean and sanitary.
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1. Sinks. You might be surprised to learn that there are more germs in your kitchen sink than are in your toilet. From raw meat juices, dirty dishes and leftover food particles, the kitchen sink is a hotbed for bacteria. Therefore, any day that you use your sink for preparing food or soaking dishes, pots and pans, it should be washed down with hot soapy water and a sponge.
2. Sponges. Speaking of sponges, there have been many discussions online about the germs found in sponges and what will work to clean them. Recently, The New York Times ran an article that quoted a study from Germany claiming that cleaning a sponge only makes the bacteria on them worse. But after further research, the author wrote another article that said cleaning your sponge is still important to do. So the debate seems to remain up in the air.
However, if you still want to clean your sponge, you can either put it in the microwave on high for a minute or try a new tool called a SpongeBath that uses citric acid to keep the sponge clean and disinfected.
3. Hand towels. Hand towels are magnets for nasty germs. More often than not, we mindlessly wipe our hands on our towels, without thinking what we’re leaving behind. Raw meat juices, raw eggs from batter or even rotting food can often be found on a kitchen towel.
The trick is to change them at least once a week — more often if the towels get a lot of use — and wash dirty ones in hot water. You can also add a teaspoon of bleach to the wash to kill bacteria.
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4. Knobs and handles. Every kitchen has more than a few door knobs and handles. Between everyday germs that are on your hands and the food germs you find in the kitchen, those cabinet knobs and handles can be full of bacteria.
You can use a simple solution of distilled white vinegar and some rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle and wipe with a microfiber cloth. The vinegar alone kills 98% of the bacteria, and the alcohol should kill the rest.
5. Salt and pepper shakers. Bet you never thought of your salt or pepper shakers as a place where germs are being transferred, but when was the last time you wiped them down with something other than a wet cloth (if that). These items are being handled by everyone in your family, and therefore germs are being spread to everyone.
6. Refrigerator handles. The handles of your refrigerator are touched countless times a day. Add in the fact that you are opening the fridge with hands that are preparing a meal and you can imagine all the germs and bacteria that are on those handles.
Get into the habit of wiping them down daily if possible. Use the same white vinegar and rubbing alcohol solution previously mentioned.
7. Cutting boards. Wooden cutting boards have proved to be full of more bacteria than a toilet seat. If used for cutting raw meat, they can also contain salmonella, which can lead to cross contamination.
To clean a cutting board, submerge it in hot soapy water after each use. You can also disinfect it with a mix of distilled white vinegar, lemon juice and salt. Consider plastic cutting boards that can go in the dishwasher.
8. Remote controls. TV remotes in any room of the house are apt to hold a variety of germs. But the remote in the kitchen is the worst of all. Food bacteria from meal prepping might be all over it.
Consider keeping the remote inside a ziplock bag and operating it through the bag. That way the germs are on the bag and not in all the cracks and crevices of the remote. Change the bag often.