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Do You Know Which Part Of Your Kitchen Is The Dirtiest?

Be sure to pay attention to these spots when you're wiping down your kitchen!

By The Weekly | January 17, 2017

The kitchen can be the breeding ground for germs. “Moisture and food particles make it the perfect environment for growing germs that can make you sick,” says Kelly A. Reynolds, PhD, an environmental microbiologist at the University of Arizona’s Zuckerman College of Public Health in Tucson. “If you’re not killing them, you can go from 10 microbes to millions within 24 hours.” And the more germs there are, the more likely you are to get sick from one.  Keep your cooking zone clean with the checklist below:

Text: Woman’s Day/ Bauersyndication.com.au

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YOUR REFRIDGERATOR, STOVE TOP

We often forget about these areas because they may not look dirty. But any area you touch multiple times a day is highly likely to be contaminated.

What to do: Wipe down these areas as part of your regular kitchen disinfecting routine. Keep cleaning products in a bucket under the sink so they’re always handy. At a minimum, swipe a disinfectant wipe across these surfaces at least once a month and immediately following touching them after handling unwashed produce and raw poultry and meat, advises Dr. Reynolds.

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YOUR HANDS

If you’ve just cracked an egg or handled unwashed produce, raw meat or poultry, your hands can transfer disease-causing germs to the next surface you touch, says Robert Donofrio, PhD, director of microbiology at NSF International.

What to do: Plan ahead. “Get out everything you need, such as the knife, the cutting board and the pot, so you’re not opening cabinet drawers and contaminating surfaces” once you’ve touched the food, says Dr. Donofrio. After dirty duties, soap up the tops and bottoms of your hands, in between fingers and under nails. Scrub for 20 seconds (hum “Happy Birthday” twice), then rinse. Dry with a clean hand towel or paper towel.

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YOUR SPONGE, DISH RAG

The public health organization NSF International recently found that more than 75% of household dish sponges and rags carry disease-causing Coliform bacteria such as E. coli. “Using the same dishrag day after day spreads the microbes,” says Dr. Donofrio . A dirty rag contaminates any surface it touches, so if you eat off one of those surfaces, you can fall ill.

What to do: Replace dishrags daily. Launder in hot water and dry on hot, which kills more germs. Change out sponges every few days, or throw one in the microwave—make sure it’s damp so it doesn’t catch on fire—for two minutes every day, says Dr. Donofrio.

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YOUR KITCHEN SINK

There can be millions of pathogens (disease-causing germs) clinging to the sink, the seal of the drain and the rubber gasket around the garbage disposal,” says Dr. Reynolds. While proper cooking lowers your chance of foodborne illness, germs like salmonella, which lives in much of the chicken you bring home, can linger in your sink after you wash the food that contains it. Touch your face after touching the sink and you’ve just spread the germs.

What to do: Clean your sink immediately after rinsing raw meat, veggies and pet bowls and once a day even when you don’t wash food or pet dishes. Spray a disinfectant, which kills most bacteria and viruses, on the faucet, sink sides, sink bottom and sink strainers. “Don’t just wipe and go. Leave the product on the surface for the contact time recommended on the label,” says Dr. Reynolds.

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