The kitchen may be a popular place for families to get together to prepare and enjoy their meals, but a recent study by NSF International finds that it may also be the “germiest” room in the home. That’s because coliform bacteria can be found on many household surfaces in the kitchen, including dish sponges and rags, kitchen sinks, countertops and cutting boards. The sources of coliform can be traced to food items, such as unwashed produce, raw meat and poultry. The bacteria also can be brought in through improperly washed hands or through contact with household pets, including pet toys and dishes.
Dish sponges are the top hot spot for germs, according to the study. “Sponges pick up bacteria during the cleaning process and are typically not properly – or regularly – sanitized before their next use,” explains Dr. Rob Donofrio, Director of Microbiology at NSF International. “Additionally, sponges are often wet and left in damp areas in or near the sink, providing optimal conditions for germ growth. They also have many nooks and crannies which can be great places for germs to multiply.”
To clean, place wet sponges in the microwave for two minutes every day and replace every two weeks or more as needed. Or better yet, use dishcloths, towels or rags, which can be sanitized by washing them in hot water with bleach. Replace dishcloths every one or two days.
Another hot spot for germs -- the kitchen sink – should be washed and disinfected at least once or twice a week with a disinfecting cleanser. Sanitize kitchen drains and disposals monthly by pouring a solution of one teaspoon household bleach in one quart of water down the drain. Wash kitchen sink strainers in the dishwasher weekly.
Knowing where the germ hot spots are in your home and taking steps to clean and sanitize them properly will help protect you and your family from harmful bacteria.