1. The Sink
You would think that the cleaning hotspot of the kitchen would actually be the least germ infested zone, right? Wrong! The kitchen sink contains 100,000 more germs than the inside of the toilet, we’re not kidding. No matter how clean it looks, kitchen sinks often play host to a variety of illness-causing bacteria like E.coli and salmonella.
That raw meat juice that you wash off your chopping board and knife is one of the main causes of the build-up of bacteria in the sink drain. These can cling onto the faucet, drain system and surface, and multiply when combined with food waste and water.
What to do: Always clean the sink after rinsing and preparing raw meat and vegetables in it, and spray it down with a disinfectant once a week. A great way to sanitise is to wash a diluted bleach solution down the drain with hot water.
2. Sponges And Dish Towels
Yes, these are used for cleaning up spills and food remnants, as well as for washing the dishes, but damp sponges prove to be the number one kitchen culprit for harbouring some serious illness-causing, nasty bacteria. Milk, eggs, fruit and vegetables can present bacteria in the kitchen, but meat is the common cause of those lingering germs living in your sponge.
Without proper sanitation, they can become overloaded with disease-causing germs. And if you don’t swap them out often, you’re basically spreading bacteria around from dish to dish!
What to do: For a quick fix, try zapping your sponge the microwave for 30 seconds or soaking in bleach to get rid of those pesky germs. Replace dishcloths regularly, and throw sponges away after using for about two weeks. Dry them out well and avoid leaving them soaked in one spot for too long.
READ MORE: 10 Time-Saving And Easy Cleaning Hacks For A Shiny, Spotless Kitchen
3. Chopping Boards
Chopping boards hold 200 times more dangerous bacteria than a toilet seat. Whether they’re plastic or wooden, germs easily lurk in them due to the many grooves and cavities from all that knifework. And despite your best intentions, washing the board after every use isn’t the most effective way to rid of those pesky, food-poisoning causing germs.
What to do: Always use a separate cutting board for raw meat/seafood and fresh produce to avoid cross-contamination. Wash the board(s) in hot water and make sure to dry it well. You can also replace your board regularly and, between uses, clean with baking soda and hot water.
READ MORE: Kitchen Hack: 5 Ways To Use Lemons To Get Rid Of Bad Odours
4. Knife Blocks
Almost every household is home to a knife block – they’re convenient, practical and a safe place to store the sharpest objects in the kitchen. The loved storage solution is just as loved by bacteria, with the pockets an all-too-easy zone for mould and yeast to hide.
What to do: If you’re looking to invest in a knife block, find one that is dishwasher safe and easy to sanitise. If you already own one, start scrubbing!
You touch fridge handles, stove knobs and even the light switch multiple times a day, especially when cooking, so imagine all the bacteria it racks up over time! And they’re often forgotten when it comes to cleaning.
What to do: Avoid touching them right after you’ve handled raw meat or unwashed produce, and wipe them with disinfectant regularly, paying extra attention to the insides of handles and the edges.
READ MORE: What Exactly Is Gastroenteritis & How To Treat It, According To A Doctor
6. Fridge Drawers
They’re the handy zones of the fridge where you store your fruit and vegetables, but there is a good chance you broccoli is partying alongside some seriously nasty germs. Dark and moist, the meat and vegetable compartments in the fridge are perfect breeding grounds for bacteria. Add to that accidental spills and raw juices from seafood and meat, which can contaminate other ingredients, and you’ve got a hotbed of microbes like Salmonella, yeast and mold.
What to do: Wipe up any spillage immediately, throw out anything that’s expired or spoiled and use liners to help make future cleanups easier. Once a month, remove your drawers and wash with warm water and detergent. It will kill any residue and will again, prove a sanitary storage space.
READ MORE: 21 Storage Tips To Make Your Groceries In The Fridge Last Longer
It’s a pretty common go-to, freezing leftovers – whether it’s a Bolognese sauce for next week’s dinner or a take-away curry that you don’t want to waste. Unfortunately, the bad bacteria that grows in food can survive even freezing temperatures. Freezing does not make food safe to eat, as when it’s thawed; bacteria can still be present to multiply.
What to do: The best way to keep yourself and your little ones safe is to simply prepare fresh food, or when re-heating, ensure it’s to at least 75 degrees.
READ MORE: 10 Clever Ways To Waste Less Food At Home And Save Money
8. Reusable Grocery Bags
Those eco-friendly cloth bags you carry to the supermarket? They actually contain harmful E.coli from absorbing juices and getting contaminated from unwashed groceries.
What to do: Use washable cotton bags and soak them in hot water at least once a week or after every use.
READ MORE: Do You Know These Places Where Germs Hide? Number 3 Will Surprise You
Photo: Project Green Bag / Etsy
9. Small Appliances And Tools
From blenders to can openers, food residue tends to accumulate in the grooves and hard-to-clean areas if they’re not properly washed after use.
What to do: If it’s something like a blender or food processor, disassemble the gadget and make sure to really get into the difficult areas to remove any residual food stuff. For utensils and can openers, clean thoroughly and let dry before stowing them away.
10. Coffee Machine
You might be brewing more than coffee – microorganisms like yeast and mold can grow and multiply quickly in the water chamber if left sitting idle for too long. Not only that, mold can make your coffee taste bad.
What to do: Remove wet coffee grounds after every use and wash the carafe, lid and filter basket daily in warm water. Dry well. Deep clean the machine once a month by filling the water chamber with white vinegar and water and letting it brew.
READ MORE: This Is Why Coffee Drinkers Are More Likely To Be Successful At Work
The heat might kill some germs, but most of the time, your microwave most likely isn’t turned on. Germs thrive in dark, moist environments, and can multiply faster when there are food particles lying around.
What to do: Always cover food before microwaving to minimise splatter and prevent the growth of microbes. An easy way to clean a microwave is to combine water, lemon and vinegar, then heat on high for a few minutes. This helps the hardened food particles dislodge so you can wipe them away easily.