Germs Are Hiding in Surprising Places

We have all developed a keen sense of understanding about the importance of washing hands after using the restroom, before you eat, when out in public places, or if you have a cold. There is another place where germs hide, and hide well!

Is it in your bathroom? It can be, but a germ filled offender may surprise you; it’s your kitchen!

The germs most often found in a kitchen are coliform bacteria (fecal contamination), staphylococcus bacteria (can cause diarrhea and vomiting), and yeast and mold.  These germs may not make you sick whenever you use your kitchen, but if you have someone in your household with a compromised immune system, these germs could be a concern.

A serious contender for ‘worst offender’ is sink sponges and dish cloths. Microbiologist Manan Sharma states that sponges are “usually the dirties thing in the kitchen, and difficult to clean”. They come into contact regularly with a variety of residues and they hold water which is an environment that encourages germs to grow. They have nooks and crannies for germs to hide and flourish in. A solution to clean sponges is to replace them on a regular schedule like you would with baking soda in your refrigerator. To clean them daily either run them through your dish washer, and/or dampen them and put them into your microwave, heating them for 2 minutes. Make sure there is no metal on the sponge. Another alternative is to keep a supply of clean cloths available and put the used cloth in the laundry every evening, starting out the next day with a clean one.

Another way to keep germs at bay in your kitchen is to use a specific cutting board only for meats, another for fruits and vegetables. As long as the board is not wood, you can run it through your dishwasher to makes sure it is sterilized.

When cleaning your counters, don’t use a dirty sponge. Using soap and water is sufficient for most healthy people. According to Joseph Frank of University of Georgia’s Center for Food Safety, “It’s more important to keep counters clean rather than disinfected, because cleaning removes 99 percent of the microorganisms, and disinfectants don’t work unless the surface is cleaned anyway.” If you are using a disinfectant, let the product sit on the counter for a few minutes before wiping it up, to allow the product to use its full effect.

The reality is, unless you have someone living in your home with a compromised immune system, most of what we presently do to keep our kitchens clean and safe is sufficient, but there are always a few tricks that will help. Keeping the surfaces clean and clear, and using common sense tactics will help all of us continue to encourage good-health practices for ourselves and our families.


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