The kitchen is the busiest room of the house and is quite often the dirtiest. Even if your kitchen looks clean enough, you might be unknowingly exposing yourself and your family to invisible microorganisms that can easily cause illness. How does this happen? Usually through bad kitchen habits such as these:
1. Using the same cleaning rag
You’ve used one rag to clean up the meat compartment of your fridge, so should you use the same one to clean your quartz countertops? Or your sink? Or perhaps your kitchen table? Definitely not. Even if you wash the rag between uses, lingering microbes can still transfer from one place to another, increasing your chances of catching an illness when these microorganisms end up on your hands and mouth.
2. Not replacing your sponge
Your kitchen sponge is dirtier than any other thing in the house. And yes, that includes your toilet. Since it comes in contact with all sorts of food residue and is constantly wet, kitchen sponges harbor high amounts of bacteria that can transfer to your dishware, and eventually, your food. If you are unlucky, the bacteria can lead to sicknesses caused by pathogens like E.coli and salmonella.
To avoid pathogenic bacteria from ending up on your dishes and your food, replace your kitchen sponge at least once a week. Moreover, ensure that your sponge can dry completely when not in use to prevent the growth of bacteria or mold.
3. Letting food spoil in the fridge
Do you habitually let food spoil in the fridge? If so, then you might be exposing your entire family to food-borne diseases that can cause nasty symptoms.
Do not let food spoil in the fridge. When you see mold starting to grow on your produce or notice that the milk is starting to go bad, toss it out as soon as possible. If you’re not sure if the food is spoiled or not, toss it out, still. It’s safer to get rid of possibly spoiled food than to taste it and risk getting sick.
4. Not washing kitchen towels
Kitchen towels are breeding grounds for all sorts of bacteria. Think about it. You use the towels to wipe up messes, dry your hands, and prepare food. If you don’t wash them often enough, the bacteria will continue to grow and end up transferring from one place to another.
Similarly, using the same kitchen towel for cleaning, handwashing, and food preparation also increases your risk of getting sick. You can easily avoid this by using separate kitchen towels for each type of job and washing the towels at least twice a week.
5. Thawing meat in the sink
A lot of us are guilty of this habit. It’s quicker and easier to thaw meat in the sink than in the refrigerator, right? True as that might be, letting your meat thaw anywhere that is not the refrigerator can encourage bacterial growth on it.
To avoid spreading bacteria in your sink and your food, thaw frozen meat in the refrigerator hours before you need to cook it. Ensure that the thawed meat is placed in a container to avoid spilling meat juices all over the fridge. If you need the meat to thaw quicker, place it in a cold bath in the sink or thaw it in the microwave.
6. Not cleaning handles, knobs, switches
Handles, knobs, and switches are touched multiple times a day, and often with not-so-clean hands. That said, these touchpoints are likely ridden with bacteria that can cause illnesses when ingested. And when you think about how many times you touch these things and your food right after, you’ll likely see how easy it is for microorganisms to end up inside your stomach.
Avoid touching handles, knobs, and switches before and after handling produce or raw meat. Moreover, make it a point to sanitize these touchpoints with disinfectant or antibacterial wipes at least once a week.
7. Not washing reusable shopping bags
Reusable shopping bags are great for reducing your plastic waste. They are also much easier to handle than paper or plastic bags. However, they are prone to causing cross-contamination when not cleaned regularly enough and when you use the same bags for everything.
To avoid bacteria from spreading across your reusable bags, use separate ones for dry goods, produce, and raw meat. At the same time, wash your bags and dry them thoroughly after every use. Do not leave your reusable bags in the car, kitchen cabinet, or anywhere else that bacteria can thrive.
If you are guilty of one or some of these kitchen habits, don’t wait until you or a family member gets sick before you start making changes. Remember, it can only take one exposure to disease-causing pathogens to cause nasty digestive problems, some of which might even send you to the hospital.