You may think your kitchen is pretty clean. But there’s a good chance the room where you prepare you food is a lot grimier than you think. The dirtiest things in your kitchen are no surprise but can get easily overlooked in your routine cleaning.

Kitchens get dirty quickly because they’re often the busiest areas in our homes, meal prep means handling uncooked, unwashed raw food also lingering crumbs and bits of food left on surfaces that all attract bacteria, mould and pests. So, whilst regularly cleaning your countertops is always a good idea, there are some other places you should focus your attention on too. Here at the Kitchen Partners we’ve put together a list of the dirtiest places in your kitchen and how you can keep them clean.

1. Knobs, Handles and Touch Pads

Every appliance in your kitchen has some type of control panel or handle that’s touched each time it’s used. All of those knobs, buttons, or touch-pads are used after raw food is prepared or before hands are washed, leaving body soil and bacteria like Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli, plus mould and yeast. All of these organisms can cause digestive upset and even make you and your family very sick. Kitchen cabinet pulls, appliance handles, and control panels should be cleaned daily and after any food preparation, using a disinfectant wipe or spray-on disinfectant cleaner and clean cloth or paper towel.

2. Sink

On any list of the dirtiest things in your kitchen, your sink is going to be one of the top offenders. We are constantly using it to wash dishes and our hands and even though there is plenty of water running through your kitchen sink, there are likely microbes lurking on the surface, especially in the crevices where the sink joins the counter, around the drain and waste disposal stoppers. To clean a stainless steel sink use an abrasive cleanser, paying particular attention to sink handles and taps. Use a sink cleaner that contains a disinfecting agent and a clean towel or disposable disinfectant wipes, whilst baking soda and vinegar solution or a disposal-specific product help keep drains clear.

3. Sponges and Dishcloths

In an effort to reduce the use of paper towels and their impact on the environment, many homes use sponges, sink scrubbing brushes, and fabric dishtowels. Unfortunately they are likely to harbour bacteria (Salmonella or E.coli). If you use these products, they should be washed in hot water after each meal preparation or cleaning session. Sink and vegetable scrubbing brushes can be placed in the dishwasher for thorough cleaning after each use.

4. Refrigerator

Most fruit and vegetables will stay fresh longer if they are not washed before storing. So, into the vegetable drawer they go, still covered with bacteria and pesticides. Of course, you wash them before preparing and serving them to your family, but the bacteria and germs are left behind in the fridge drawer.The same thing happens with raw meat that is stored in the refrigerator. Packaging leaks and fluids accumulate in the drawers and along the edges of shelves. Even packaged products like milk or tubs of butter have been handled and stored numerous times before they enter your refrigerator.To get rid of the bacteria that can be grown there, remove refrigerator drawers or shelves, if possible monthly and wash the surfaces with a mild detergent and warm water, dry with a clean cloth or paper towel. Between thorough cleanings, wipe away any spills and give the interior surfaces a quick wipe with a disinfecting wipe.

Get into the habit of getting rid of any long-expired condiments and plan a meal with items reaching the end of their life span. Take a few minutes to dust the top of the appliance and vacuum behind and underneath as well. Remove the vent cover to vacuum the coils. Dust on coils makes the refrigerator work harder to stay cool, using more energy, and food particles hiding underneath are insect magnets. Though this task may seem overwhelming, doing it regularly makes it much less time consuming.

5. Reusable Shopping Bags, Lunch Boxes & Water Bottles

Each time you use a resealable container or reusable lunch box, shopping bag or water bottle, there is a potential of cross-contamination from bacteria, unless it has been cleaned correctly. The containers should be completely dissembled and placed in the dishwasher or washed in hot, soapy water, rinsed in hot water and dried completely. Most lunch boxes and cloth reusable shopping bags can be put in with the clothes wash for a thorough cleaning. An additional tip for the shopping bags is to keep them segregated, designate one or more for cleaning supplies, one for raw fruits and vegetables, one for raw meat and one for packaged goods.

Have a great weekend
Clifton and Fiona