5 Shocking Ways You’re Contaminating Your Kitchen

Last Update: June 28, 2024

Cooking is a dirty business. Think about it: butchering or chopping meat can be a bloody mess, grease splatters all over the stove, and baking—impossible to do without leaving a fine dusting of flour all over the kitchen.

It makes sense, then, that the kitchen requires a thorough cleaning after cooking, every time. But even wiping down the countertops and scrubbing out pans isn’t quite enough—there are a ton of dirty spots you could unknowingly be missing. Any of these habits could be a signal that it might be time for a deep clean.

1. Washing raw chicken

It might seem like washing chicken before you sticking it in the oven is the hygienic thing to do, but really, the only thing that running hot water over raw meat does is spray germs and bacteria all over the place. Gross, we know. There’s no need to worry about washing off bacteria like salmonella—cooking chicken to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit kills the vast majority of bacteria.

2. Not properly cleaning cutting boards

Over time, all that slicing, chopping, and chiffonading can rough up the surface of cutting boards, leaving tiny crevices that bacteria love to hide in. Keep everything sanitary by cleaning the cutting board regularly with hot water or hydrogen peroxide.

3. Leaving the refrigerator dirty

Fruits and vegetables get washed, so the refrigerator where they’re stored should, too. Studies have shown that the refrigerator isn’t a clean place, and in fact, it can harbor salmonella, listeria, e. coli, yeast, mold, and other disease-causing bacteria. Wipe up spills immediately after they happen to prevent bacteria and nasties from taking hold of this everyday appliance.

4. Not washing fresh produce

Even when buying the pre-cut, pre-washed stuff, you have to, have to, have to wash the fresh fruit and vegetables from the store. It’s impossible to know how thoroughly they’ve been cleaned, and re-rinsing it is the only way to know for sure that tomato or cucumber is getting cleansed of pesticides and gnarly bacteria.

5. Leaving the dishwasher filthy

When the dishwasher hoses off all of the dried-on food, sticky sauces, and grease stains from dishes, all that gunk has to go somewhere… And by somewhere, we mean the bottom of the dishwasher. Make sure dishes are actually coming out cleaner than when they went in by periodically cleaning the appliance itself. Baking soda, lemon juice, and vinegar will do the trick.

Photo credit: Bonninstudio via Stocksy

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Annalise Mantz

Annalise is a foodie, Brussels sprouts lover, grammar nerd, and political pet aficionado.

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