Are we making ourselves sick? You can clean all day, but there’s no guarantee that you’re killing all of the harmful bacteria in your home. There’s tons of sneaky places where germs like to hide, and if you’re not aware of those areas, you’ll never clean them.
The kids are going back to school, and I’m going to deep clean my home from top to bottom. The first room I’m going to tackle is the kitchen!
According to a recent study done in 22 homes by the NSF International, experts revealed that some of the germiest areas and objects in those homes came from the kitchen.
The kitchen out beats the bathroom when it comes to germs, so I’m putting on my gloves and turning on my cleaning music, because it’s time to give my kitchen a true deep clean.
Listed below are the 14 germiest places and objects in your kitchen that need to be cleaned immediately. I’ve also listed detailed instructions on how you can clean those areas!
From cleaning dirty dishes to washing fresh produce, the kitchen sink is where you go to clean everything in the kitchen. It’s also a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. Cleaning your kitchen sink at least once a week can help combat the growth and spread of germs.
DIY kitchen sink cleaning spray
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water
4 drops tea tree oil
4 drops lemon essential oil
Glass spray bottle
Add all of the ingredients into the glass spray bottle and shake it. Spray the solution around and inside your kitchen sink. Let it sit for a few seconds before wiping the sink clean.
Hand / dish towels
I’m not surprised that hand and dish towels are major harbor for bacteria. We use them to wipe down dishes once we’ve rinsed them off, and we use them to wipe our hands clean. Wash your dish cloths in the washing machine on a hot water cycle.
How to clean dish towels
Place your dish towels in the washing machine on a hot water cycle.
Sponges are moist and damp, which is the perfect environment for bacteria to grow. While washing dishes, the germs that come off of the dirty dishes stay on the sponge. If a sponge isn’t cleaned properly, the germs will stay on it. Try to avoid reusing the same sponge after a few uses and replace your sponges often.
How to clean a sponge
Place the sponge in the microwave and set it to one minute. Let the microwave run for a minute. Let the microwave cool before using it.
How many of you have wiped your kitchen countertops with a wet sponge or dish towel? Congratulations, you’ve just made your countertops even dirtier. We often think that it’s ok to clean our countertops and tables with the same towel / sponge that we used to clean our dishes, but this is a big NO NO! You’re only making things worse by transferring bacteria from one place to another. Use an all purpose cleaner and a new, clean cloth to clean your countertops.
DIY kitchen countertop cleaning spray
IMPORTANT: this cleaning spray should not be used on granite countertops.
Glass spray bottle
1 cup of water
1 cup of white vinegar
5 drops of tea tree oil
5 drops of lemon essential oil
Combine all of the components into the glass spray bottle. Shake the bottle and spray the solution over the countertop. Wipe the countertop down with a clean paper towel.
When your chopping raw meat and vegetables on your cutting board, you may not think of all the bacteria that’s being left behind once your done using it. Make sure that you clean your cutting board with soap and water after every use. Never soak your wooden cutting board in water or put it in the dishwasher; the water will crack the wood and cause it to split.
How to clean a cutting board
Take a clean paper towel and wipe the cutting board down with vinegar. Take another clean paper towel and wipe the board with hydrogen peroxide.
The only time that I wipe down my microwave plate is when something spills onto it. Other than that, I’ve never thought to take it out and clean it. Since I use my microwave to reheat my meal prep and make ahead meals, it’s best to start cleaning my entire microwave once a week.
How to clean a microwave plate
Take the plate out of the microwave and wash it with soap and water. Clean the inside of your microwave with a safe all purpose cleaner.
This was one was a complete shock. I’ve never thought to clean my knife block. Apparently, bacteria and mold can build up when you place wet knives in the block before allowing them to dry. To prevent the spread of germs on your knives, you’ll need to clean the entire knife block with soap and water.
How to clean a knife block
Baby bottle brush
First, remove all knives from the block. Soak the block in hot water and soap. Use a small baby bottle brush to clean each individual slot. Rinse the block and turn it upside down on a clean surface to dry.
I know you’re probably thinking, “What is a blender gasket?” Trust me, I had no idea what it was before looking at the NSF International report. The blender gasket is the rubber piece that sits between the blade and the bottom of the blender jar. It keeps the liquids that you’re blending up from leaking out of the bottom of the jar. The NSF report showed where a blender gasket can be riddled with Salmonella, E.colli, yeast, and mold if it isn’t being cleaned regularly. That’s extremely scary!
How to clean a blender gasket
Refer to you blender’s instruction manual to learn how to properly disassemble your blender and remove the blender gasket. Once the gasket is removed, you should be able to clean it in soap and water. Let the gasket completely dry before putting it back into place on the blender.
The refrigerator handle is the gateway to gaining access to all of the goodies that are inside the fridge. It’s also the same handle that everyone else in your family touches to access the inside of the fridge, as well. Many hands means that there will be many germs. All handles and knobs are suspect to having tons of germs on them, so go around the house and clean them all weekly .
How to clean your refrigerator handle
Take a disinfectant wipe and wipe down the handle. Do not reuse the same wipe on another door handle or knob. Throw the wipe away once your done.
Refrigerator water and ice dispensers
Nowadays, just about fridge comes equipped with an instant water and ice dispenser. Having these dispensers installed makes it easy to fix a tall glass of water whenever you want. The NSF report of kitchen items that had the most germs ranked refrigerator water dispensers at the top. According to the NSF data, most people had no clue that the water and ice dispenser on their refrigerator was home to harmful bacteria such as salmonella, E.coli, and more. Cleaning your water dispenser often can drastically cut back on the amounts of bacteria that build up over time.
How to clean a refrigerator water dispenser
It’s best to refer to your refrigerator’s manual book for accurate directions on how to disassemble and clean the water dispenser. You can even try calling the manufacturer of your refrigerator for detailed instructions.
Rubber spatulas are the ultimate kitchen utensil for creating bakery goodies, and you can find a rubber spatula in every baker’s kitchen. The NSF International report concluded that most rubber spatulas that they tested were covered with harmful microorganisms such as E.coli, yeast, and mold. I don’t know about you, but I definitely don’t want any of these nasty germs going into my cake or cookies. If your spatula comes apart, it’s vital that you clean both parts of the spatula separately.
How to clean rubber spatulas
Start off by pulling the spatula apart. Next, wash each piece of the spatula in hot, soapy water. Let them dry on a flat, dry surface and do not attach them back together until both pieces are completely dry. If your spatula does not come apart, proceed with the same cleaning steps listed above. Scrub closely to the area where the blade and handle meet, and let the spatula completely dry before putting it away.
Salt and pepper shakers
Salt and pepper are the finishing touches to any meal. We all grab the salt and pepper shakers when we need to add a little bit more flavor to our food, but we don’t actually think about how many people have touched them before us. That’s why salt and pepper shakers made the NSF’s list for being one of the most germiest items in the kitchen. We use them every time we sit down at the table, but we never actually clean them.
How to clean salt and pepper shakers
You can empty the contents out of your shakers and clean them with hot water and soap. You can also wipe them down with a disinfectant wipe.
Silverware trays are essential for organizing your forks, spoons, and knives, and they are also riddled with bacteria that come off of the utensils. If you’ve never thought to clean the silverware tray, then it’s time to think again. Most of the germs that end up on silverware trays come from utensils that have been lightly rinsed off rather than sanitized. Make sure that your silverware is complete clean and dry before placing it in the tray.
How to clean silverware trays
An empty silverware tray can be cleaned with soap and water. Dry it off before placing it back into the drawer.
The can opener never really touches any food, but it can get a little messy. I just simply wipe the can opener off and go back to preparing my meal, but obviously that’s not enough to keep it from harboring bacteria. The NSF report shows that the can openers that they tested were a hotspot for salmonella, E.coli, yeast, and mold.
How to clean a can opener
To clean a manual can opener, place the tool in a bowl full of vinegar and let it soak for a few hours. Use a toothbrush to dig out any food particles that are stuck.
To clean an electric can opener, use a toothbrush dipped in vinegar to clean out the gunk. Refer to the manual that came with your electric can opener for more detailed instructions.
Our refrigerator has different sections in it that we use to keep our food organized and easy to find. These compartments are rarely empty so we don’t always take them out and clean them, which is obviously a bad habit that needs to be broken. According to NSF report, most meat compartments are covered in different types of bacteria such as salmonella, E.coli, mold, and yeast. Also, the NSF report stated the most vegetable compartments that haven’t been cleaned are swarming with salmonella, Listeria, yeast, and mold. These are the places where we put our food in the fridge, and that’s extremely alarming. Cleaning the compartments of your refrigerator once a month can stunt the growth of bacteria.
How to clean refrigerator compartments
Completely empty out your compartments. Wash the inside and outside with hot water and soap. Dry off the compartments with a clean towel. Let them dry on a clean surface before putting them back into place.
Whew! I know you’re mind has been blown from reading this list. Kitchen items that I’ve never thought about cleaning, were discovered to be full of germs due to NSF International’s report. If you have any tips on things that need to be cleaned in the kitchen, share them with me in the comments below. For more cleaning tips from us and other bloggers, take a look at this post of 19 amazing kitchen cleaning hacks.