Studies have shown that the most germ-laden area in a person’s home is the kitchen. The kitchen counter, the cutting board, and the sink are contaminated with more disease-causing germs than even the toilet.
The sources of germs include sponges, wet washcloths, and damp towels. Germs, including viruses, need moisture to exist and, and wiping a counter with a wet cloth or sponge just spreads the bacteria.
A study conducted tests on wet kitchen sponges and found that they contained up to 1 billion organisms — often including coliform bacteria (fecal), which can cause human disease.
Even though kitchens are teeming with bacteria, you can still keep your family safe. Here’s how:
1. Never cut vegetables on the same board you use to cut meat. If you do, make sure you clean it with hot water and soap first. (Go here to learn more about how to avoid food poisoning.)
2. Buy cellulose sponges that aren’t impregnated with antiseptics such as triclosan. If you use a regular sponge, squeeze all the water out and then hold it under the hot water for at least a minute before cleaning dishes or wiping up. You can also put it in the microwave for a minute if wet and 30 seconds if dry. When you are finished with a cloth, open it so that it can dry.
3. Keep the sink, stove top, and all counter spaces clean. Clean the sink after each use with soap and hot water, and run hot water around the sides and bottom using the spray attachment. The same is true of the stove top and all counter space.
4. Keep counter spaces, stove tops, and refrigerator handles clean. Wipe them with warm soap and water or a disinfectant wipe.
5. Clean out your coffee pot. As coffee residue breaks down, bacteria grows, but there’s an easy remedy. Every week, mix vinegar with water (about a 50-50 mixture) and run it through a normal coffee-making cycle. Then, run a cycle of clear water. (Is your water safe? Read my special report "Is Your Drinking Water Fit to Drink?")
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