CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Are you obsessive with hand sanitizer? Do you avoid door handles and light switches to keep germs at bay? You may be worried about all the wrong places.
When it comes to food borne illnesses, the National Sanitation Foundation says the six “germiest” items are:
-Your refrigerator vegetable compartment
-The meat compartment
-The blender gasket
-A can opener
-A rubber spatula
-Food storage containers with a rubber seal.
Your knife block, water dispensers, and coffee reservoirs also rank up there.
These items tested positive for the highest levels of salmonella, listeria, yeast and mold.
Those fridge compartments should be emptied and cleaned and sanitized regularly, not just during spring cleaning, according to the NSF.
Blenders should be disassembled, pulling the gasket apart from the base. Can openers should be washed and sanitized every time, because of the stuff that it gets in direct contact with. And if you don’t detach the head of the spatula, there’s plenty of germs that can get caught up in there, too.
Dr. Charles Gerba, aka “Dr. Germ,” is an environmental health microbiologist with the University of Arizona. He’s a leading expert on household germs.
Gerba says there are many household items and surfaces where you wouldn’t expect germs to lurk.
If you suspect the bathroom is the worst offender, you’d be wrong. The kitchen is ground zero.
“The reason why is people use disinfectants and clean properly in their restroom or bathroom, but in the kitchen they don’t,” he said.
“In terms of fecal bacteria, the cleanest place not only in your home, but offices and other places is the top of the toilet seat in terms of fecal bacteria. There’s actually more fecal bacteria in the average cutting board in a home. It’s safer to make a sandwich on a toilet seat than on a cutting board,” Gerba said.
And you might think twice about that hand towel.
“What happens is the bacteria get in there. It’s wet and moist and if you don’t use hot water washes you won’t kill them all when you wash them. Most people don’t realize you’d get more fecal bacteria in your face if you dried it with a towel than if you stuck your head in a toilet and flushed it,” he said.
Think you’re doing right by bringing home groceries in reusable bags? When’s the last time you washed them, if ever? Dr. Gerba says they have more bacteria in them than your underwear.
And Dr. Germ says 25% of women’s purses have E. Coli on them. And where do we most often set them? On the counters or tables where we prepare and eat our food.
Gerba has been commissioned by manufacturers of cleaning products to test their effectiveness. He says disinfectant wipes are your best option.
“You’re using the right amount of disinfectant, and you’re letting it dry so you’re getting the right amount of content. We haven’t found that sprays work nearly as well because people just spray and wipe and it’s too fast for the disinfectant to work and it’ll combine with the cleaning cloth so it’s not as effective,” Gerba says.
If you do use a spray, Gerba suggests you let it sit for several minutes before you wipe it. If you’re using wipes figure on using about three for an entire kitchen so you don’t spread bacteria around.