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The Secret 6: Where Germs are Hiding in your Home

The Secret 6: Where Germs are Hiding in your Home

Published on July 1st, 2019

Last night, I decided to throw our knife block in the bin. It was time for an upgrade after a few years of use. As someone who prides herself on keeping a neat home, I was horrified by what I saw on the base of the block when I turned it over. I then shone a torch down the holes where the knives go and I was disgusted at what I saw.

Mould. And a lot of it.

It got me thinking about where mould and bacteria might be hiding. When the Public Health and Safety Organisation, NSF International conducted a swab analysis for bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli, they made some interesting discoveries. While most think the bathroom would be the germiest, the kitchen actually took the crown!

Here’s what surprised me most about the findings.

1. Knife Block

It makes sense when you think about it. Who cleans their knife block? Not me, obviously. Any skerrick of food on your knives is easily trapped in the knife block crevices, providing a breeding ground for mould and bacteria. Don’t forget that putting your freshly-washed knives back into the block (not always completely dry, right?) creates that moist atmosphere bacteria loves.

The fix? Give the block a shake out once a month and wipe down with water and dishwashing detergent. Try to spray a diluted vinegar solution (50/50 white vinegar and water) into the knife crevices and stand the knife block upside down to drain. White vinegars’ anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties will take care of those hidden nasties. And don’t forget to completely dry your knives before putting them back.

2. Dish Sponges

Sponges and rags rated highly on the germ scale. In fact, it was the clear frontrunner in the NSF study. They found Salmonella and E. coli (an indicator of potential faecal contamination) on more than 75% of dish sponges and rags during the study.

The Fix: Rinse your sponges and dry them thoroughly, preferably in sun-light where the UV light will sanitise the sponge for you. Make sure you’re replacing sponges regularly or better yet, using dishrags that can be put through the washing machine.

3. Cutting Boards

This was one I learned about during Food Technology class at high school. Never use the same chopping board for raw meats and vegetables. Clean all boards regularly and colour code your boards for different foodstuffs.

The Fix: Try naturally cleaning and disinfecting your chopping boards with lemons and salt.

4. Kitchen Sinks

Most of us don’t clean our sinks as regularly as we should. Bacteria and mould were found in 45% of the kitchen sinks covered in the study.

The Fix: Put your kitchen sink strainer through the dishwasher (something I’ve never thought of until now), and ensure you’re wiping the sink down regularly with an effective cleaner.

5. Toothbrush holder

The bathroom is still a key player when it comes to germs and mould. The toothbrush holder had one of the higher bathroom germ counts, which is scary when we think that our toothbrush goes from a germ factory (toothbrush holder) to our mouth.

The Fix: Get a dishwasher safe toothbrush holder and put it in the dishwasher once a week.. Make sure you replace your toothbrush if you’ve been sick and keep your holder in a spot far away from the toilet … for obvious reasons.

6. Pet Bowls

Rufus’ bowl needs to be cleaned often, especially if you’re guilty of leaving his food in there for hours or days. Try to keep the bowl away from the kitchen if possible and clean it with hot, soapy water. Make sure the bowl is completely dry before Rufus’ next feeding time!


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