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Germs in the Kitchen

The kitchen harbors more germs than any other room in the home. Here are 10 tips to protect your family.
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Wipe away germs.
Faucet handles, refrigerator door handles, and doorknobs are next on the list of kitchen culprits that aid and abet germs. Use disinfectant spray or wipes on sink faucets, refrigerator handles, stove handles, cupboard handles, trashcans, doorknobs, and any other area that you touch with your hands. "These sprays or wipes kill germs on contact," explains Schachter. "This is really important and should be done several times a day before and after touching these objects," he says. "Don't forget to wipe down the telephone," adds Charles Gerba, PhD, a professor of microbiology at University of Arizona in Tucson. "A lot of times, someone is cooking and has a question for the original chef, so he or she calls their parents to find out how to make it and the bacteria gets slopped on the phone and it grows."

Clean the cutting board.
Cracks and crevices in your cutting board provide plenty of space for bacteria to grow. "The average cutting board has about 200% more fecal bacteria than the average toilet seat," Gerba says. "People don't disinfect cutting boards," he says, and they should. "Don't cut up chicken and then salad on the same cutting board without disinfecting it," he stresses. Better yet, "use separate boards for raw meat and making salads." Plus, he says it's important to clean and disinfect inside the fridge, microwave, cupboards and other surfaces that come into frequent contact with food.

Dust out the drain.
The drains in both your kitchen sink and bathtub provide yet another moist hideaway for bacteria. "To kill these bugs where they live use baking soda and an old toothbrush to get rid of stains, grit, and grime around drains," Schachter says. "Disinfect drains regularly as you would any other surface."

Put away your glassware.
Flu season spans from November through March, while cold season runs from about September until March or April. "To assure that no one drinks from the same glass, use paper cups during cold and flu season," Schachter says. And try using color coded paper cups: Assign each member of the household a different color.

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