Digestive Health

Updated 05 May 2017

How clean is your kitchen cloth?

There are more germs in your kitchen than in any other area of your home. And the kitchen sponge has a much greater germ count than the toilet seat, researchers say.

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There are more germs in your kitchen than in any other area of your home. And the kitchen sponge has a much greater germ count than the toilet seat.

This discovery was made by Dr Charles Gerba, aka "Dr Germs", and colleagues at the University of Arizona during a study that investigated the key transfer points of disease-causing bacteria in the home and office.

Gerba and colleagues identified five "bacterial hotspots" in the kitchen. In descending order (by highest bacterial count), these included:

  • Sponges and dishcloths
  • Sink drain area
  • Faucet handles
  • Cutting boards
  • Refrigerator handles

The researchers also analysed bathrooms and found that toilet seats were remarkably clean. It is now speculated that toilet seats are simply too dry to provide a good home for growing bacteria.

What to do
So, what can you do to ensure that your kitchen sponges and cloths remain clean? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Don't just assume that white-looking cloths are clean. Remember, disease-causing bacteria are invisible.
  • Don't use the same cloth or sponge to wipe a cutting board and other kitchen surfaces or utensils. Wet the cloth/sponge after cleaning one surface and then pop it in the microwave for two minutes to eliminate the germs that lurk inside the crevices before wiping another surface.
  • Have separate cleaning and drying cloths.
  • Clean cloths everyday by soaking them in water to which you've added a drop of bleach. Dry them out thoroughly before using them again. Alternatively, wash cloths in the washing machine and dry them on high heat.
  • Replace cloths about once a week with new ones.

- (Health24)

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Digestive Health Expert

Dr. Estelle Wilken is a Senior Specialist in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology at Tygerberg Hospital. She obtained her MBChB in 1976, her MMed (Int) in 1991 and her gastroenterology registration in 1995.

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