When was the last time you cleaned your refrigerator’s ice and water dispensers?
The 9 Kitchen Hot Spots For Germs
There is danger lurking in your kitchen and it’s not the two-week leftovers you’ve forgotten about in the fridge. Many of your kitchen appliances and, believe it or not, cleaning tools are actually the perfect breeding grounds for germs, and this includes germs that can cause serious illness and even death. For you and your family’s health and safety, it’s important to know where the hot spots for germs are in your kitchen and how you can clean them effectively. Let’s talk about the top nine.
Sure, smoothies are healthy, but the bacteria they leave behind is not. Germs can hide in all kinds of places in your blender, including on and underneath the rubber seal, in the blades, and in the crevices where the lid rests. A common mistake people make is doing what you see being done in smoothie shops and coffeehouses, and that is simply running the assembled unit under some hot water when you’re done using it. This is precisely what causes the germs in the first place, as it does not clean the crevices. Disassemble your blender after each use and wash each part thoroughly, then allow it to dry completely before reassembling.
This might seem as if it’s an odd place to find germs in your kitchen but your can opener, whether manual or electric, is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria on the magnet, blades, handle, and anywhere else you touch the unit. Just like doorknobs and your phone, places where you touch begin to harbor bacteria, and you can see the foodstuff seeping out of the can onto the blade as you open it. Most people don’t think to clean this appliance regularly, much less wipe off the cans before opening them. Do both, and if you can take your can opener apart to clean it, do so to ensure that germs aren’t hiding between the pieces.
Cutting boards are an absolute germ haven, particularly if you do not clean them thoroughly after each use. What’s worse is you could end up with E.coli, clostridium, listeria, salmonella, or other dangerous and even fatal bacteria, depending on what you’re chopping up on the board. As you cut your ingredients, you are scoring your board, no matter if it’s made of wood, plastic, or other material. The food liquid and debris settles in those scores and germs and mold begin to breed. Thoroughly clean and dry your cutting boards after each use, and use separate ones for meats, vegetables, and so on. If your board is dishwasher safe, toss it in the unit. If it’s made from wood, check with the manufacturer to determine the best way to clean and sanitize the utensil.
This is a hidden danger that most people fail to consider. You know you are supposed to clean your refrigerator’s icemaker annually, but when was the last time you cleaned the bin into which the ice falls? Is your ice starting to taste funny? Are the cubes sticking together and to the bottom of the bin? It’s time to clean it. In fact, you should clean it once a month, because, yes, germs can survive for a time in that freezing environment. Turn your icemaker off, empty the bin, and wash it thoroughly with hot, soapy water. Allow it to dry completely before placing it back into your freezer.
The meat compartment in your fridge is honestly one of the most dangerous places. You know the different types of food poisoning you can receive from tainted or uncooked meat, and the stuff leaking from your deli packages is no exception. As you go about your life grabbing the lunchmeat for your sandwich and then tossing it back into the compartment, bacteria is building up on the bottom of the drawer. Dark, cool, and damp environments are the perfect breeding ground for germs and mold. Remove your meat compartment monthly and wash it thoroughly will hot, soapy water. Allow it to dry completely before inserting it back into your fridge.
Your refrigerator and freezer seals quickly and easily breed bacteria and mold when not kept clean. Open your refrigerator and look at the seal. Notice the folds? Moisture gets trapped between them, as does dirt, and this makes for the perfect place in which mold and bacteria will grow. As you’re cleaning your kitchen and wiping down your fridge, don’t forget to take a clean, soapy cloth and gently scour between the seal’s folds. Dry the seal thoroughly with a clean towel, ensuring that it’s completely dry before closing the fridge.
Ah, your kitchen sponges; these are, without a doubt, one of the worst culprits for growing germs, bacteria, and mold, as they are almost always damp. You recognize the mildew scent they eventually get, and if you’re washing your dishes and wiping down your counters with them, you’re transferring those germs onto other surfaces. Toss your sponge into the dishwasher each time you run it to clean and sanitize it properly, and have a vented place to set it to ensure that it thoroughly dries in between uses. In fact, if you can dry it in the sunlight pouring into your kitchen, even better.
You might be thinking that you do not need to worry about your refrigerator’s vegetable compartment. After all, there aren’t any fluids or blood leaking out of your food in this drawer, as there are in your meat compartment. There is, however, the potential for bugs, especially if you buy organic, and the possibility that your produce is also tainted by bacteria-laden water. Another danger is if you wash your veggies the minute you bring them home and then toss them into the compartment, as this adds moisture to environment. As with your meat compartment, remove your veggie drawer once a month and clean it thoroughly. And if you pull out a veggie and see some creepy crawlers you missed when inspecting your produce at the store, empty the bin and wash it immediately.
Your refrigerator’s water dispenser hides germs all over it, not only in the spout and the hand/glass-press, but also throughout the unit itself. This is because it’s a moist environment and people are consistently touching it, no doubt with grubby hands when your kids retrieve water from the dispenser. Annually, you need to disassemble the entire unit and clean it per your manufacturer’s instructions. Weekly, you should take a clean, small brush (you can even use a brand new toothbrush), soak it white vinegar, and scrub the spout and opening around it. Once clean, open the spout to rinse it out, and wipe down the hand press, catch tray and area surrounding the dispenser with warm, soapy water. Dry thoroughly.