Dirty Secrets—Cleanse Your Kitchen of these 10 Germ-Infested Hiding Spots

April 2015 View more

Cleaning Grease And Dirt Off Glass CounterThe most germ-infested place in your home is your kitchen. The lurking germs can be invisible and harmful to your family’s health.

Microbiologists from the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) analyzed common kitchen items for the presence of four different types of microorganisms. The NSF International Germ Study found 36 percent of kitchen items contained E. coli and salmonella, 14 percent were contaminated with listeria, and 100 percent of the kitchen items in the study contained at least some traces of yeast and mold.

These pathogen-ridden surfaces and gadgets then come into contact with our food, increasing the odds that we will get sick from one of the many food-borne illnesses. However, a little hygiene can help zap the germs.


The kitchen sponge takes the top spot as the number one source of germs in the entire house. The moist, porous, micro-crevices that make a sponge an effective cleaning device also make it a cozy home for germs. And wiping your counter with a dirty sponge transfers bacteria from one item to the next. If you heat a wet sponge in the microwave for one minute, you can eliminate the germs that live in the crevices.


So many germs are washed down the kitchen sink. Don’t let the pathogens linger. Disinfect the sink every day with a mixture of water and bleach.


It’s best to wash your can opener in the dishwasher to keep microorganisms like yeast, mold, salmonella, and E. coli from growing on the cutting surface.


Since the shakers are touched frequently, it’s easy for germs to latch onto the containers. Use disinfecting wipes to clean the shakers after each meal.


The refrigerator meat compartments were also found in the study to be one of the top hiding places for germs. Not only were yeast and mold present, but both salmonella and E. coli were also found. Remove the drawer from the fridge and wash it with detergent mixed with warm water. Keep meat below the produce so raw juices don’t drip onto your fruits and veggies.


Disassemble the blender before washing. If it’s dishwasher safe, put it through a wash cycle. To hand wash it, use hot, soapy water and completely dry each piece before reassembling.


The dark, moist environment of a knife block can breed germs. Both yeast and mold were found embedded on the board during the study. When you take the knives out to clean the block, turn it upside down and shake lightly. Hand wash the knife block using a small brush. Then rinse it well. You can also sanitize it by mixing one gallon of tap water with one tablespoon of 5.25 percent household bleach. Let the mixture sit in contact with the slots for one minute. Then rise it well and allow the block to dry thoroughly upside down.


If your spatula can be disassembled, remove the handle and wash both pieces in the dishwasher or by hand to remove any E. coli, yeast, or mold that may be present. If it doesn’t come apart, use extra effort washing the area where the two pieces join.


If your storage containers are dishwasher safe, put the container and lid through a wash cycle. If hand washing the container and lid in hot soapy water, pay special attention to the area around the seal, especially where the cover attaches to the container.


The seal around the door of your refrigerator can harbor harmful bacteria. Sanitize it periodically with soapy water and then dry it thoroughly with a clean towel.