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Where Are The Germs in Our Home-Kitchen Hiding?

Updated: Sep 3, 2022

The kitchen is often a hot spot for germs and bacteria, but did you know that it's also been ranked as most germiest places in your home? In 2011 the National Science Foundation (NSF) released the “International Household Germ Study” and shed light on some surprising secrets our households hide.

The study conducted by NSF was 22 families who swabbed 30 everyday household items ranging from kitchen surfaces to cell phones and pet products in order measure contamination levels of yeast, mold, and coliform bacteria (a family including Salmonella and E. coli). The findings indicated three out of the top five hot spots for germs were actually located within your kitchens! Keep reading to learn about what they found.

Kitchen Sponge/Dish Rag

The item most frequently used to clean dishes and countertops was actually the most germ infested places found. Sponges and dish rags are the perfect storm for breeding bacteria during their cleaning process; particularly the cellulose sponges which are the most commonly used.

How to clean your dish sponge

After each use make sure to fully rinse and sanitize (these sponges can be put on the top rack of the dishwasher or put in the microwave for approximately 2 minutes). When sanitizing in the microwave make sure the sponge is damp, if dry it can catch fire as these are made of wood fibers. Replace sponges often and do not use them to clean countertops or interior of the sink.

A natural sponge which does not trap particles and debris and can last for up to a year, if cared for properly. These are sourced from the ocean and are a bit more expensive.

Kitchen Sink

The second highest concentration of harmful microorganisms was found in the kitchen sink. The average kitchen sink is dirty and full of germs. Yuck! That means your home’s most used area could be carrying around more filth than a toilet - but before you run off in a panic to grab your bleach, hear me out. Learning how to clean a kitchen sink and drain is critical for a sanitary, healthy kitchen, but you don’t need harsh chemicals.

How to clean your kitchen sink and drain

For stainless steel all you need is three ingredients, which you likely already have on hand. All you need is dish soap, baking soda, distilled white vinegar, and a bit of soft scrubbing. Follow these easy steps:

  • Rinse out the sink with hot water and some dish soap.

  • Sprinkle baking soda all over the sink.

  • Use a soft scrub brush to rub the baking soda in the grain’s direction.

  • Use the toothbrush to get around the drain hole and other tight spots.

  • Spray distilled white vinegar all over the sink.

  • Once the bubbling and fizzing stop, rinse the sink with hot water.

  • Dry the entire sink with a microfiber cloth.

  • Use a dry microfiber cloth to buff the stainless steel.

The mild abrasiveness of baking soda and the acidity of vinegar combine to cut through greasy residue, disinfect, and dissolve water spots that are caused by calcium deposits. If you have a porcelain, copper, granite, or cast iron sink, skip the scrubbing and just use dish soap and warm water with a cloth.

Toothbrush Holder

While many people would suspect faucet handles or light switches to be a high on the list, the results in the test homes revealed that toothbrush holders carry more bacteria – coming in at number 3. The bathroom is a prime breeding ground for microorganisms. Our toothbrush holders are no exception. They carry the bacteria from our mouths, the over-spray from a flushed toilet, and potentially mold spores that are commonly found in bathrooms. All these bacteria we put in our mouths two or three times a day!! The solution to help reduce the number of harmful microorganisms is EASY!

How to clean your toothbrush holders

If your toothbrush holder is dishwasher safe place it on the top rack and run a sanitize cycle. Do this once or twice a week. If your toothbrush holder is not dishwasher safe, handwash with warm soapy water and clean with a microfiber cloth and mild disinfectant. Also, important to note, remember to replace your toothbrush frequently!

Faucet Handles

This should come at no surprise! The faucet handles in the kitchen and bathrooms contained coliform bacteria (a family including Salmonella and E. coli) as well as yeast and/or mold.

How to clean faucets

Wipe down daily with a disinfectant and microfiber cloth.


Coliform bacteria were found in 30% of the homes tested, and sources can be traced to many food items including unwashed/improperly washed produce as well raw meat/poultry. Coliform can also come into your kitchen through improperly washed hands or contact with household pets including pet dishes & toys!

How to clean countertops

Now this is very dependent on the material of your countertops. Never use your dish sponge to clean countertops and unless your countertops are textured, never use anything abrasive!

· For laminate first clean the area with an all-purpose cleaner to remove dirt, grim and debris. Then use a pH neutral disinfectant. READ THE LABEL – it is a common misconception that when cleaning that you spray and wipe immediately. This is not accurate; cleaning agents need time to activate and trap microorganisms. The label will tell you the effective contact (dwell) time needed.

· Stone (marble, granite, quartz, etc.) No abrasives (sorry but this means Magic Erasers too)! Abrasives will scratch both sealant and stone. Use a neutral pH all-purpose/general-purpose cleaner, make sure to read the label No chelating agents (such as citric acid) in chemical – No EDTA or NTA. Chelating agents will damage, etch, and destroy stone. Always a use soft cloth (microfiber or chamois).

· Tile countertops – Clean with a neutral pH all-purpose cleaner or a slightly alkaline degreaser. Again, do not use any abrasive sponge or brush.

Stove knobs

Stove knobs rank in the top 10 of the most germiest places found in our homes. It is easy to overlook these but is critically important to clean properly and often. Often while we are cooking, we are multi-tasking and how many actually wash their hands properly after stepping away from the stove. Maybe you are going through your mail, answering a text message, petting your cat or dog. With all these seemingly innocent actions you are spreading germs through contact all over our house and where you prepare of family’s meal.

How to clean stove knobs

Once a week remove the knobs, wash in warm soapy water and let air dry. Use a mild degreaser and soft cloth to clean the area on the stove where the knobs go before reinstalling them.


Germs thrive in warm and moist environments. NSF’s analysis showed that dish sponges, pet toys and kitchen sinks, which may not be cleaned as frequently than they should be, are among the top 10 germiest places at home. While smooth, cooler surfaces, such as keys, computer keyboards, and remotes tend to harbor fewer germs.

It’s important to understand that germs are everywhere in our homes, and they can hide in some pretty unexpected places. But don’t worry – proper cleaning and sanitizing can drastically reduce the number of harmful microorganisms lurking in your living space. If you want help ensuring that your home is clean and healthy, contact Luxurious Cleaning Services today. We offer a wide range of professional cleaning services that will take care of every nook and cranny in your house, so you can rest assured knowing that your family is safe from harm.




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