Plus, the dishwasher’s door gasket may be contaminated with fungus and black yeast.
“That outer rim never reaches a temperature high enough to kill everything off,” Tierno said.
- If you don’t plan on running a load soon, rinse your plates with a mild bleach solution (a shot glass of bleach to a half quart of water). This kills surface organisms so you can let dishes accumulate, Tierno says.
- Use the same solution to periodically clean the gasket.
A 2011 study in Microscopy Research and Technique found that nearly half of never-before-used brushes were tainted with bacteria. It gets worse when you put the bristles to work.
“Your mouth contains more than 500 different types of bacteria,” Tierno says. And if you leave your brush sitting out, it could collect fecal bacteria. “Unless you have a low-flow toilet, aerosolized droplets splatter when you flush. They can go pretty far—up to 20 feet.” Yum!
- Regularly run your toothbrush through a clean dishwasher, using standard dish detergent. A 2011 study in the American Journal of Dentistry found that this method eradicated nearly all disease-causing bacteria.
- Another option is to soak your brush in a mouthwash that contains cetylpyridinium chloride, such as Crest Pro-Health Complete Rinse, for 20 minutes; doing this can also beat bacteria, the study found.
- To avoid flying feces, Tierno says, simply store your brush in a closed cabinet.
“The sink is the dirtiest area in the kitchen,” Tierno says, “and the sponge is the dirtiest item in the sink.”
In a recent Simmons College study, nearly a third of dishcloths and kitchen sponges tested were laden with staph (including some with MRSA, the antibiotic-resistant strain of staph) twice the rate of contamination in toilet bowls the researchers swabbed
A great sponge sterilization tip: Throw your wet sponges into the microwave and zap them on high for 1 minute.