Even if you keep your kitchen sparkling clean, odds are that in some places, there are still plenty of germs lurking around. When microbiologists at NSF International analyzed a wide variety of common kitchen tools and appliances for the presence of microorganisms that can cause foodborne illness, including Salmonella, Listeria and E. coli, along with yeasts and molds, they found what to many, was rather surprising results.
The research team also asked a group of volunteers which places they thought would be the most contaminated, and it turned out they were pretty far off. They named things like the microwave keypad and flatware storage tray, but it turned out that those things didn’t even make the list of the most germy items.
Many people think that germs tend to thrive in a warm environment, but half of the most contaminated areas were in the refrigerator. That’s because the frig offers moisture and darkness, which help germs take hold. There are also lots of nooks and crannies where germs can hide, according to Cheryl Luptowski, a home-safety expert and consumer affairs officer at NSF International.
Germs also tend to build up on items that aren’t usually disassembled and cleaned like your blender or can opener. Unfortunately, it’s a lot more than just gross. If you’d rather just forget about it, consider that the germs that lurk there can cause serious health issues, especially for those with a compromised immune system, pregnant women and the elderly.
The nine germiest places in your kitchen, were found to be:
Refrigerator water dispensers
Refrigerator vegetable compartments
Refrigerator ice dispensers
Refrigerator meat compartments
Rubber seals of food storage containers
To get them clean, don’t use a standard household cleaner which typically contains numerous toxic chemicals that can cause a number of health problems themselves. Instead, use this natural, homemade disinfectant.
1/2 cup of vinegar
2 cups of hot water
1 teaspoon baking soda
10-20 drops tea tree oil
Mix all of the ingredients in a spray bottle. Spray surfaces and allow the disinfectant to sit for 10 minutes; wipe clean with a cloth or paper towel.
To really get those dirty, germy items clean you’ll need to disassemble appliances like your blender. Instead of just removing the jar from the base, you’ll have to totally disassemble the jar, separate the blade and gasket at the bottom and the lid handle from the rest of the lid. If it’s dishwasher safe, you can just wash all pieces except the motor unit in your dishwasher. Otherwise, just use hot soapy water, rinse and dry.