When it comes to fighting nasty germs in our homes and offices, we need to be focusing much more on the food prep area than the bathroom. If we’re not super careful, the bacteria army marching triumphantly across our worktops and cookers won't be made up of those nice friendly ones you see on the TV ads...
BIBO decided to look into some simple ways to keep your kitchen as germ-free as possible.
Did you know 12 times as many bacteria live on a kettle handle than you'll find on a toilet seat? Or that harmful bugs like E-coli have been detected on electric kettles?
A series of studies have revealed most people have no idea the average kitchen is a breeding ground for harmful bacteria, and the little blighters could cause a range of serious health issues if precautions aren’t taken.
“During food prep, be aware there are bacteria in food, and touching it can spread it to other surfaces and potentially cause illness,” US Infectious diseases expert Susan Rehm warns. “Common bacteria found in the kitchen include E.coli, salmonella, shigella, campylobacter, norovirus and hepatitis A.”
7 tricks to keep your kitchen germ-free
shed a light
Mood lighting is all very well, but it can mean you don’t notice a few drops of blood from the chicken you’ve been stuffing or the splatter from last night's bolognese. Powerful overhead lights are essential in areas where you need to be certain that everything is spotless.
You can’t clean a bench top if it’s lined with jars, bottles, piles of books and racks of spices. So a major de-clutter can work wonders.
A big culprit can be the cord of the kettle, which is hardly ever washed and usually packed with bacteria.
A BIBO water bar means you can finally ditch the kettle for good and get instant chilled or boiling water that’s been filtered and purified to kill bacteria and remove contaminants.
Oh, and if you’re still not convinced, a Danish study found dangerous amounts of nickel can be released into boiling water from many kettle brands causing allergies such as eczema.
READ MORE: 2021’s surprising health trends
wash the cloth
Dishcloths and sponges are seasoned experts when it comes to spreading germs. A 2017 study detected 362 different species of live bacteria on a single sponge, with a mind-blowing 82 billion pathogens in just 16 cubic centimetres!
Other research has found that salmonella can breed and multiply on cloths left overnight and isn’t just a problem in chicken and eggs - if it's spread around the kitchen, it can thrive in beef, pork, frozen meals, fruit, veg, flour and juices.
To stay safe, soak dishcloths and sponges overnight in a mug of boiling water with a tablespoon of bleach, and dispose of them weekly. And the cloth you wash dishes with should never be used for wiping down counters as it’s so easy to spread any contamination to multiple areas. A paper towel or washable cloth is best for worksurfaces.
bags of nastiness
An office kitchen can be even more precarious, as multiple people use the fridge, cutlery, sinks and cupboard handles.
Grabbing a morning cuppa can be particularly hazardous. Nearly half of kettle handles had higher levels of bacteria than toilet doors in one study, while another found boxes of tea bags had 17 times more than a toilet seat!
As if that wasn’t bad enough, a poll of 1,000 office workers revealed that 80 per cent wouldn’t think to wash their hands before making drinks for colleagues. No wonder two-thirds of Australian workers are scared about returning to the office after COVID-19.
The best tip to avoid sharing too many unpleasant molecules with Gary in Finance is to use your own mug, teaspoon and teabags and get a BIBO water bar installed as soon as possible. Huddling round waiting an eternity for a kettle to boil will spread a lot more than the latest coronavirus.
When you’re cleaning the kitchen, don’t forget the ceiling. Chances are it's remained untouched for years or even decades. If you can’t reach, tie a mop to a broom handle and give it a good scrub, making sure to clear any old cobwebs.
keep it fresh
Leaving a jug of water by the bed or even in the fridge for long periods can be a big no-no. After a while, the chlorine dissipates so algae can begin to grow. Plastic water bottles can also be problematic if they're left for weeks, as small amounts of plastic leaches into the water.
If you want chilled water, use a BIBO water bar where the unique ultraviolet purification system and multi-stage, carbon filter has removed chlorine, lead and bacteria.
that sinking feeling
Garbage disposal units are a convenient way to blitz uneaten food, but they're also prone to massive build ups of germs - mainly because we can’t actually see the dirt and sludge ourselves.
A quick cleaning trick is filling it with ice, pouring in a cup of vinegar and pressing the button for five seconds before turning on the tap and running the rotor for another ten seconds. Chucking in half a cup of baking soda and leaving it for 30 minutes before sloshing in a cup of vinegar also works. Is there nothing vinegar can’t do?!