This discovery was made by Dr Charles Gerba, aka "Dr Germs", and colleagues at the University of Arizona during a study that investigated the key transfer points of disease-causing bacteria in the home and office.
Gerba and colleagues identified five "bacterial hotspots" in the kitchen. In descending order (by highest bacterial count), these included:
- Sponges and dishcloths
- Sink drain area
- Faucet handles
- Cutting boards
- Refrigerator handles
The researchers also analysed bathrooms and found that toilet seats were remarkably clean. It is now speculated that toilet seats are simply too dry to provide a good home for growing bacteria.
What to do
So, what can you do to ensure that your kitchen sponges and cloths remain clean? Here are a few suggestions:
- Don't just assume that white-looking cloths are clean. Remember, disease-causing bacteria are invisible.
- Don't use the same cloth or sponge to wipe a cutting board and other kitchen surfaces or utensils. Wet the cloth/sponge after cleaning one surface and then pop it in the microwave for two minutes to eliminate the germs that lurk inside the crevices before wiping another surface.
- Have separate cleaning and drying cloths.
- Clean cloths everyday by soaking them in water to which you've added a drop of bleach. Dry them out thoroughly before using them again. Alternatively, wash cloths in the washing machine and dry them on high heat.
- Replace cloths about once a week with new ones.
Visit our Healthy Home section for more info.