Your imagination can run wild thinking of the bacteria lurking in your home. But people tend to look in the wrong direction when it comes to fighting germs in the kitchen. Disinfect these seven germ sanctuaries as soon as possible.
Your refrigerator harbors bacteria in some surprising places. Ice and water dispensers, vegetable crispers, meat drawers and door seals are some of the germiest spots.
To do: Use a disinfectant when you clean the fridge, do a white vinegar flush of the water dispenser, and clean and sanitize the ice maker and ice bin. If your fridge needs extra care (and elbow grease), consider hiring a cleaning service that offers appliance cleaning.
Countertop appliances need more intensive cleaning than you might think. In fact, not doing things like flushing your coffee maker and disinfecting your blender gasket can put you at risk of ingesting unsafe bacteria.
To do: Run a cycle of white vinegar and water through your coffee maker, and tackle scum on slow cookers with white vinegar and baking soda. Disassemble your blender and wash every component with soap and water. And remember to unplug appliances before cleaning.
Think of all of the hands, bags and containers that land on your countertops throughout the day. A quick wipe-down won’t be enough to fully clean the surface and prevent cross-contamination.
To do: Disinfect your countertops daily and let them air dry. And consider installing a nonporous countertop material like engineered quartz to reduce germ accumulation.
Sinks require daily care to fight bacteria. Disinfecting them regularly will reduce the risk of contaminating foods and dishware, and will make your sink less appealing to pests.
To do: Flush sink drains weekly or bi-weekly with hot water and bleach, or vinegar and baking soda. And disinfect your sink basin every night. If your sink is slow to drain or produces a smell, it might help to connect with a local plumber.
Utensils like rubber spatulas and can openers rank in the top 10 for bacteria content — and studies have found harmful strains like E. coli and Salmonella on them.
To do: If your utensils can be disassembled, take them apart to clean them (bacteria gathers in the creases). And deep clean your can opener in a vinegar bath.
Food storage containers and reusable grocery bags aren’t just storing dry goods or tomorrow’s lunch — they’re also holding germs. This is especially true if there is a rubber seal involved, as these tested positive for yeast and mold.
To do: Wash your reusable shopping bags weekly. And clean food-storage containers as soon as you’re finished with them, removing the seals for their own cleaning.
Knife blocks rank among the 10 germiest items in the kitchen. Wooden knife blocks, in particular, harbor yeast and mold — especially if you put semi-wet knives back into the block.
To do: Remove the knives and clean the block with soap and water, scrubbing the slots with a narrow brush or pipe cleaner. Then, submerge the block in water containing one tablespoon of bleach to each gallon of water (or wipe it with a similarly portioned mixture). Let the block air dry upside-down.
The reign of bacteria in the kitchen doesn’t end there. Knobs, handles, buttons, sponges and washcloths need more attention than they’re given. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, consult with a cleaning company about deep cleaning services and get a clean slate.