The Dirtiest Thing in Your Kitchen Might Surprise You

This beautiful clean kitchen still contains the dirtiest thing in your kitchenWe asked several unsuspecting people what they thought was the dirtiest thing in their kitchen. Responses included the trash can, the oven, the floor; but no one guessed the #1 threat in the average kitchen… the kitchen sponge.

How is a Sponge the Dirtiest Thing in Your Kitchen?

According to a study conducted at the University of Arizona, the sponge in your kitchen sink is as much as 200,000 times filthier than your toilet seat. The reason for this relates to the porous nature of a sponge—which absorbs bacteria, well, like a sponge. Not to mention, sponges are moist and warm. The toilet seat is smooth and cold, making it far less cozy for mold and bacteria to settle in and make a home.

Most people keep the same sponge for WAY too long. On top of that, very few people clean their sponges often enough. As a result, every time you use an old sponge to “clean” you end up spreading germs and bacteria all over the place. Depending on what your sponge comes into contact with, you may end up with an illness. In a Gerba study, 10% of sponges were found to contain salmonella.

You might assume the soap you use will take care of that bacteria, but it won’t. In fact, to kill salmonella you’d need the water coming out of your faucet to reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

that face you make when you have to use a dirty sponge

The Solution

Luckily, there’s a way to keep the dirtiest thing in your kitchen from getting the best of your dishes, and everything else you clean with it. And you don’t have to toss out all your sponges and never use them again. After all, sponges are great at cleaning, they just need some TLC.

For one, change your sponge often – as much as once every other week. On top of that, clean your sponge in between uses. Toss it in the microwave for 1-2 minutes or run it through your dishwasher. Want to know more? Check out this article to learn how to get rid of odors & germs on your kitchen sponge.

But Wait… Cleaning Your Sponge Isn’t the End-All Solution

There is some controversy over how much bacteria are really removed from your sponge after cleaning it. Some studies say the microwave trick takes care of 99% of bacteria, while other studies report far lower percentages of bacteria killed off in the process.  Many doctors and microbiologists agree there’s really no way to remove bacteria from an old sponge. That means using the same sponge for weeks on end is getting you nowhere even if you try and clean it. As soon as your sponge looks gross or smells gross, you should absolutely throw it out and get a new one.

Other Surprisingly Dirty Things in Your Kitchen

Wondering where else bacteria are hiding out in your kitchen? According to researchers, the following are the dirtiest surfaces in your kitchen.

  • The sink

It’s the space where your kitchen sponge lives and it’s teeming with bacteria. The dirtiest spots of all are in the crevices where your sink and countertop meet. The National Sanitation Foundation International found that 45% of kitchen sinks contained E. coli or some form of coliform bacteria.

  • Knobs & handles

From your microwave to your fridge door and even your cabinets, handles and knobs are some of the dirtiest surfaces in your kitchen. It makes sense, think about how often you grab onto these handles while you’re cooking, preparing raw meat, etc.

  • The fridge

The area you trust to keep your food safe and sound is a hotbed for bacteria.

  • Cutting boards

Wooden cutting boards are the worst culprits of all.

  • Small appliances

From coffee makers to blenders, small appliances rank among the dirtiest items in your kitchen.

  • Salt and pepper shakers

Would you like some bacteria with your salt and pepper? It is super common to grab shakers while cooking without washing your hands first. As a result, they get coated in all kinds of things.