Surpassing the bathroom as the dirtiest room in the house, the kitchen is highly likely to have high contamination levels of yeast, mould and coliform bacteria – a family of bacteria that includes Salmonella and E. Coli, and is an indicator of potential fecal contamination. Yes, the place where delicious meals are prepared. Eradicate the germ threats and keep your family in the pink of health by cleaning up these 14 often neglected spots in your kitchen. Scroll through the gallery to find out what they are.
Mixing up designated cutting boards is easy while you’re busy whipping up meals for the entire family. But the high risk of cross-contamination makes keeping clean an essential. Wash wooden boards with soap and hot water, and allow to dry thoroughly before storage. Regularly clean plastic boards by washing with near-boiling water and air-dry before storing.
Dish sponges and rags
Most households use antibacterial dishwashing liquid but that doesn’t stop bacteria and random food particles from getting trapped onto the sponge. According to studies, 86% of kitchen sponges and rags contained traces of yeast and mould, while 75% tested positive for coliform bacteria. Instead of only ‘cleaning’ the sponge whenever you’re doing the dishes, sanitise it by microwaving for two minutes daily. Replace old sponges with new ones every two weeks, and change out washable linens every two days to prevent germs from breeding.
Photo: The Parsimonious Princess
Knobs, handles and buttons
When was the last time you wiped down the refrigerator door handle, microwave buttons or even the power socket switches? There are tons of frequently touched, rarely cleaned smaller surfaces that are teeming with easily transferrable bacteria. Dampen a microfiber cloth with your favourite cleaning product and get disinfecting!
Simply rising out your coffee maker after brewing your cup of joe isn’t going to rid it of calcium deposits and bacteria build-up. Nespresso machines offer descaling solution kits to ‘brew’ and run through the machine, but you could do a quick vinegar cleanse for other traditional coffee makers or pod-based type of machines.
Behind the fridge, under your stove, even the space beneath your assortment of appliances needs a good cleaning because these spots trap dust, dirt and even food.
There are plenty of kitchen storage solutions you can use to keep the space organised, but don’t forget to clean them out weekly. Don’t leave out inconspicuous items such as utensil organisers and drying racks!
Photo: The Container Store
Water bottles and lunch boxes
It may come as a surprise but studies have found that reusable water bottles are laden with an alarming number of illness-causing bacteria, even though you may rinse it out during each refill. The results are similar for lunch boxes too, which is disturbing considering fresh food is put in and consumed. Thus, be sure to hand wash everything thoroughly after use with warm water and antibacterial soap.
You may have lined the bin with a plastic bag to catch all the rubbish, but that doesn’t mean your trash can stays clean. Rinse it out with water and spray with a liberal amount of disinfectant before leaving the bin to air dry.
Photo: Ben Cullis Watson
Pet bowl hygiene is one of the most neglected, as according to a 2011 study where their water bowls came in fourth place as one of the ‘germiest’ places in the home. Instead of simply rinsing off every time you replenish your pet’s water or food, scrub it thoroughly with hot soapy water and allow to air dry. One a week, put it in a bleach rinse (one cap of bleach per one gallen of water) and soak it for 10 minutes. Your pet (and family members) will thank you!
Reusable grocery bags
It’s great that you’re doing your part for the environment by using reusable grocery bags, but don’t forget to clean them from time to time! Dirt and bacteria from various foods and groceries could easily be trapped in the fabric, so just toss them into the washing machine for a good cleanse and dry out thoroughly before your next grocery trip.
Finished using your can opener? Most people would simply rinse it with running water and set it aside without much thought. But experts have found traces of yeast, mould, E.coli and salmonella on can openers that haven’t been regularly cleaned, even though it’s really easy to do so. Simply handwash with hot, soapy water and make sure there’s no gunk trapped on it, and you’re set.
Stove exhaust filters
Can’t figure out where the musty, greasy smell is coming from in your kitchen? Check your stove exhaust filters – gunk and grease easily build up and get stuck in there, so clean out everything even though its might be exhausting to do so.
Residue from washing fruits and veggies, bacteria from dirty dishes, pouring leftover drinks down the sink… there’s little wonder there’s all sorts of germs brimming in your sink. Luckily, it isn’t difficult to keep it clean. Start off by keeping it as dry as possible by wiping wet surfaces down with a paper tower. Then, scrub its surfaces daily with a watered down dishwashing liquid solution and rinse with running water. Don’t forget to wipe the faucet handle and drain area too.
Photo: Signature Hardware
Inside the fridge
Just because it stays cold and relatively clean, doesn’t mean that the fridge isn’t a prime breeding spot for bacteria. Think about all the expired food, cross-contamination, accidentally spillage and other germ-riddled activities that goes on within its cool walls. Which is why weekly fridge cleaning – clearing of spoiled food, proper food storage, wiping off containers and inner surfaces – has to be added into your cleaning routine. Make it a point to do a ‘deep cleanse’ at least thrice a year, where you remove shelves and drawers for thorough disinfection, vacuum its grate and coils and clean its door seals.
Photo: Crazy Loves Company