Think the bathroom is the dirtiest place in the house? It is not. The kitchen is the most filthy place, and the refrigerator door handle is the dirtiest item. The handle gets smeared with visible food and invisible bacteria. Kitchen cleaning sponges can harbor harmful bacteria as well, and bacteria spread quickly.
Do you use the same kitchen cleaning sponge for days? Do you wipe your kitchen counters with a sponge? If you answered affirmatively to these questions, you will need to take action to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria, including Salmonella and Ecoli.
According to “An Ounce of Prevention Keeps the Germs Away,” a booklet published by CDC, kitchen counters should be cleaned regularly with a disinfectant. The CDC’s advice: “When cleaning surfaces, don’t let the germs hang around on kitchen cleaning sponge or towels!” Instead, the CDC says you should use paper towels, clean dish towels, or disposable sanitizing wipes.
“Dangers of an Unclean Kitchen,” an article on the Cleaning Expert website, also discusses the risks of dirty kitchen cleaning sponges. “These items can hold more harmful bacteria than anywhere else in the house,” the article notes. To prevent the spread of bacteria, dish cloths, towels and sponges should be used only once and laundered in hot water.
Some consumers are zapping dish sponges in the microwave to kill bacteria. Jennifer Warner discusses this trend in a Web MD article, “Microwave Kills Germs in Sponges.” Microwaving a damp sponge on high power for two minutes does kill bacteria. But you will have to do it right. “Be careful in removing the kitchen cleaning sponge from the microwave, because it will be hot and should not be handled after zapping,” she warns.
Some consumers are zapping dry sponges in the microwave and, as you might imagine, the sponges catch on fire. The “New York Times” details this practice in “The Claim: You Can Disinfect a Kitchen Sponge in the Microwave. Journalist Anahad O’Connor says zapping damp sponges in the microwave “can pose a safety hazard.’ A simpler solution, according to O’Connor, is to throw the sponge out and buy a new one.
I like fabric dish cloths and wash them, along with dish towels, every day. We live in a hard water area and, though we have a softener, kitchen linens become drab. When this happens, I throw them in the rag bag and buy new ones. To avoid cross-contamination, I never mop up floor spills with the dish cloth. Here are more ideas to help you keep a clean kitchen:
- Color code clothes, one color for the sink, another for counters and floor spills.
- Wipe down counters with the disinfectant approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
- Throw away kitchen cleaning sponges that are ripped or frayed.
- Try antibacterial kitchen cleaning cloths and replace them with 40 items of washing.
- Be extra careful about kitchen cleanliness if someone in the family is ill.
These steps will help to keep your kitchen clean and your family safe.