7 Surprisingly Germy Kitchen Items You Never Even Thought to Clean

The sponge and the sink are obvious culprits, but new research shows that other everyday kitchen objects can also harbor germs that can cause foodborne illnesses or worse.

By Lauren Gelman
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    Even the cleanest kitchen has germs.

    In a new study from NSF International, a non-profit public health and safety organization, when 20 families swabbed 14 different kitchen items they found the following ones contaminated with various combinations of foodborne illness-causing germs such as E. Coli, Salmonella, Listeria and mold and yeast. (No wonder that 21 percent of cases of foodborne illness are due to food consumed in private homes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.) Here are some of the worst germ breeding grounds, and tips on how to keep them clean.

    Knife block

    Be honest: when was the last time you cleaned this, if ever? 

    De-gunk it: Remove the knives, then turn the block upside down to shake out crumbs. (You can also use a can of compressed air, like a computer keyboard cleaner.) Wash the block in hot soapy water and get in the slots with a small brush, like the kind designed to clean baby bottle nipples. To sanitize, soak the block in a mixture of one gallon of lukewarm tap water and 1 tablespoon of 5.25 percent household bleach, or just fill the knife slots with the mixture. Let it sit for one minute, then rinse thoroughly with clean tap water and place upside down to dry. Avoid germ buildup by washing knives and letting them dry completely before you put them back in the block. 

    Refrigerator vegetable drawer

    Salmonella, Listeria, and yeast and mold are partying it up in here with your cukes and carrots, and a dirty drawer could contaminate new clean veggies you put in there, Lisa Yakas, a microbiologist and senior project manager at NSF, told CBSNews.com.

    De-gunk it: NSF recommends that once a month, you remove the drawer from the fridge and wash the bin with warm water and a mild detergent. You can get rid of odors with a baking soda solution (about 1 to 2 tablespoons of baking soda in 1 quart of water). Let everything dry thoroughly.

    Refrigerator meat drawer

    It’s not surprising that the home of raw meat would host Salmonella, E. Coli, yeast and mold, but ask yourself: How often do you give it a proper cleaning? 

    De-gunk it: As with the veggie drawer, you need to remove the whole thing and wash it with soap and water.

    Blender gasket

    If you don’t follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions, you may be blending in bacteria with your food.

    De-gunk it: Clean your machine after each use by disassembling completely, including removing the blade and gasket. Depending on manufacturer's directions, put the pieces in the dishwasher or wash by hand in hot soapy water. Let all pieces dry thoroughly before putting the blender together.

    Can opener

    Many people use this handy tool every day, but if you toss it back the drawer without a good cleaning, you maybe exposing your family to bacteria, yeast, and mold.

    De-gunk it: It’s especially important to clean the area where the groove meets the can, and make sure you get rid of all food residue. Even better, buy one that’s dishwasher safe and wash after each use.

    Spatula

    If you don’t remove the rubber tip from your spatula to clean it, chances are food remnants exist, and that can lead to the growth of disease-causing germs.

    De-gunk it: If your spatula is two pieces, separate the handle from the tip and clean both thoroughly.

    Food storage containers with rubber seals

    You may rinse out your lunch container in the office sink, but these containers can allow germs to thrive.

    De-gunk it: If dishwasher safe, make sure to wash both the container and the lid. If you’re cleaning by hand, take special care around the seal and any grooves where the cover attaches to the container.

    Your Comments

    • melissitzi

      Should be a pic of a rubber spatula, graphics department… Can tell you guys don’t cook (or read copy?) much….

    • http://www.interiormoving.com/packing-materials/ Rochester moving company

      i really like your ideas.. thanks for sharing

    • Commercial Cleaning Seattle

      Good one. Before discussing on this topic I am going to discuss about diseases. Latest studies shows that who cleans kitchen and bathroom well they are healthy and disease free then who do not clear kitchens and bathroom properly. Now the topic is about kitchen cleaning. There are few ways which can be used to clean our kitchen. Please do not use huge chemical product for cleaning. We must use virus killing products to clean our kitchen and other parts or house. Another important this is dishes. Always clean dishes very well. Better clean means less diseases.

    • Guest

      good