The most germ-ridden items in your kitchen (and how to keep them clean)

A clean, hygienic kitchen is essential when it comes to food safety, but many of us are unwittingly harbouring bacteria-breeding hotspots in our otherwise spick and span homes. Here are the most common offenders, and the best way to avoid them becoming germ nirvana.

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Tea towels

A new study has found the your tea towels are more likely to harbour dangerous E.coli bacteria, putting you and your family at risk of food poisoning, if your tea towel serves multiple functions i.e. to dry your hands and your dishes and work surfaces. Tea towels from meat-eating households have a ‘significantly higher prevalence’ of bacteria, too. Have separate towels for hand and dishes – and change them every couple of days, washing at 60 degrees.

Washing up sponges

The average kitchen sponge is 200,000 times dirtier than a toilet seat. If that hasn’t sent you running to throw away your gnarly old sponge, know that a micro-organism called campylobacter, which can cause paralysis, is commonly found on kitchen sponges due to contact with poultry, according to the Health Protection Agency. Change your sponge weekly – you can actually put it through the dishwasher, which gets hot enough to kill off most germs.

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Inside your fridge

A study conducted on the average home fridge found that salad drawers alone contain an average of 7,850 bacteria units per square centimetre. To put this in perspective, the maximum amount for safe food preparation is between 0 and 10. Always wipe up smears and spills promptly with an antibacterial wipe. Every few months take out all the shelves and wash them with hot, soapy water.

Kettle handle

It’s an easy one to miss, but when you think about it, it’s getting a lot of dirty-hand contact, especially as we often pop on the kettle as soon as we get in. When you’re wiping down worktops with antibacterial spray, try and get in the habit of giving frequently used handles (kettle, fridge, cutlery drawer) a once over, too.

Washing machine

You’d assume that something that’s main function is to clean couldn’t really get dirty, but now we’re all using eco-friendly 30 degree washes, some bacteria can still thrive. It’s not necessarily going to make you ill, but Dettol make a £3 washing machine cleaner which will deal with any stinky detergent drawers and make sure the drum and pipes are hygienic and free of limescale too.