How germy is your kitchen?

By Jessica Migala
August 11, 2020
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Your kitchen is the hot spot of the home: It’s where everyone gathers for good food, to get the morning started, and to catch up after a long day. But it can also be a hot spot for germs—if you make these common cleaning mistakes. Don’t let these seven deadly cleaning sins happen to you, according to home cleaning pros.

1. Using a dirty rag

If you don’t regularly replace your cleaning sponge or dishrag, you’re spreading bacteria around, says Vicki Brown, owner of Harmony Clean in Bucks County, PA. In fact, one survey found that 77 percent of sponges and dishrags had coliform bacteria and 86 percent had yeast and mold. Run sponges through the dishwasher with the day's load and change about once a month; pop rags in the washing machine.

2. Not reading cleaning instructions

Cleaners seem self-explanatory: You spray and go. But, depending on the product’s ingredients, overspray can damage nearby surfaces, especially if it contains bleach, says Brown. Always read the instructions and use accordingly.

3. Not disinfecting properly

Similar to the above: You’re going to want to read the instructions on a disinfecting product, as it’s one of the cleaners most frequently used incorrectly, says Brown. Clean the surface first, then apply the disinfectant. Give it its full “dwell” time (listed on the label), which is the time the product needs to sit to disinfect.

4. Forgetting things you can’t see

If it’s not dirty and in your face, it doesn’t exist. If only! “People will often wipe the inside of the microwave, but forget to do the ceiling,” says Katrina Keith, a franchise owner of Molly Maid in Dallas-Fort Worth. Same goes for inside the drawers and the bottom of the fridge, as well as the bottom shelf of the pantry (which may be caked with crumbs as we speak!).

5. Skipping the garbage disposal

Ever walk by your sink and notice a specific… funk? That may be your garbage disposal. Brown recommends pouring in white vinegar and ice cubes to clean every two weeks or so. “It’s easy and painless,” she says.

6. Ignoring the dishwasher

It gets your dishes clean, so shouldn’t it be clean? In reality, there’s buildup that gunks up the bottom. Spray both the inside and fill the soap dispenser with white vinegar and run it on the hottest cycle you can about once a month, suggests Brown.

7. Not cleaning the sink

Stop for a moment and think about what goes on in your sink: It’s where raw meat juice gets rinsed off, for one, and yet few people take the time to wash it, says Keith. Before you even think about piling clean dishes in one side or washing fruits and veggies in there, you’ll want to make sure it’s clean. Keith recommends using a small amount of bleach to clean the sink. “Make sure you rinse well after cleaning,” she says.