9 Ways Your Kitchen Is Making You Sick

woman scowling at food

Maybe you consider yourself a foodie and only buy organic fruits and veggies. Or maybe you're a damn fine cook and pride yourself on getting a homemade dinner on the table for your kids each night. Regardless, that kitchen you spend so much time in is probably, well, disgusting.

Not yours in particular, mind you. We're talking everybody's kitchen. According to science-y people, it's probably harboring E.coli, staph, and Salmonella bacteria, even if you clean it regularly. (Because you know, "cleaning" doesn't mean "sanitizing.")

More From The Stir: Your Beauty Routine Might Be Making You Sick 

Here, the eight ways your kitchen is a total germ-fest.

We're going to throw #7 in the washer right now. What about you?

germs in kitchen

Image © iStock.com/VladimirFloyd and © 5 second Studio/Shutterstock



  • Cloth Towels


    Image © iStock.com/AndreyPopov

    Sure, using cloth towels in your kitchen seems like a better plan than going through a roll of paper towels. (And the planet says thank you!) But when you wipe your hands on cloth towels while you cook, then go on to dry dishes with that towel, you're basically rubbing germs alllll over the place. We're talking E. Coli and coliform, a fecal bacteria.

  • Sponges


    Image © iStock.com/antoniemo

    You use them to wipe counters, clean dishes, mop up juice spills... Kitchen sponges are the best invention ever, right? Sadly, they're also 200,000 times dirtier than a toilet seat. (Need a visual? Think 10 million bacteria per square inch.) Even after three uses, your sponge is likely teeming with yeast and mold. We'll wait while you go throw it out.

  • Cutting Boards


    Image © iStock.com/Lisovskaya

    You're slicing raw chicken or beef, then chopping veggies on the same cutting board -- no big deal, right? You're cooking everything, after all. We have two words for you: Cross-contamination. Germs from uncooked meat  seep into your cutting board and are transferred to whatever food you cut next. In fact, bacteria on a cutting board doubles after just 10 minutes of use no matter what you're slicing up.

    More from The Stir: 5 Ways to Tell It's Food Poisoning and Not a Stomach Bug

  • Microwaves


    Image via iStock.com/mangostock

    There's a price you pay for heating up those leftovers. Not only can germs breed on spilled food left inside your microwave, but on the exterior touchpad. One study showed that two-thirds of people don't wash their hands after handling raw chicken, so just imagine what's all over your "time cook" button.

  • Sink and Countertops


    Image © iStock.com/chuckcollier

    A clean-looking sink is not always a clean sink. Actually, the kitchen sink is the dirtiest place in your house, thanks to being exposed to raw meats, and having a moist surface, which germs dig. During one study, scientists tested 80 surfaces in the kitchens of four families and discovered 34 different types of bacteria. (We're guessing one was called "Yuck!")

  • Handles and Knobs


    Image © iStock.com/GetUpStudio

    Think of how many times a day you open your freezer, pull open your pantry, or yank open a kitchen drawer. Chances are you don't wash your hands before doing so. (But you probably should.) Some viruses, like the flu, live on surfaces for up to 8 hours. According to one germ study, Staph bacteria -- which is becoming resistant to antibiotics -- lives on 14 percent of refrigerator handles.

  • Reusable Grocery Bags


    Image © iStock.com/Sadeugra

    When was the last time you washed your reusable grocery bags? (Us: Never.) But we all should, considering they're full of nasty bacteria. Carrying home raw meat makes things even worse since the juices run off into the corners of your cute eco-friendly bag. Oh, and putting the bags on your kitchen counter, after they've been in your car trunk or the the floor where everyone walks? Not such a great idea either since 93 percent of us have fecal matter on our shoes.

    More from The Stir: Your Purse Carries So Many Germs That It's Probably Dirtier Than a Public Toilet

  • Coffee Makers


    Image © iStock.com/Shantell

    Better put down your cup of joe while you read this. Half of all home coffee makers have mold and yeast growing in their water reservoirs, and 1 in 10 have that coliform (poop) bacteria we keep mentioning. In fact, coffeemakers are more germ-laden than bathroom door handles and toilet seats. So maybe we should all start making coffee in there?

    More from The Stir: Germ-Proofing Your Kid-Filled House

  • Smartphones


    Image © iStock.com/svetikd

    We take our smartphones everywhere, from the bottoms of our grungy purses to the bathroom. But when you rest it on the kitchen counter so you can scroll through a recipe, you're also bringing iGerms into your food prep area. A Wall Street Journal investigation found that smartphones harbor up to 4,200 units of coliform bacteria. (Safety regulations only allow drinking water to have less than one unit per half-cup.)

kitchen food safety

More Slideshows