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Shocking Places Germs Hide in Your Kitchen and Bedding - Are You Making These Mistakes?

Uncategorized Jan 29, 2023

Kitchen Dangers

According to a recent study by the Agriculture Department Food Safety and Inspection Service, the kitchen items with the most germs include spice jars, cutting boards, the sink, soap dispenser, and faucet handle. The study found that people were not washing their hands or wiping down surfaces during meal preparation, which contributed to the presence of germs. The USDA recommends washing these items with hot soapy water or a bleach-water mixture to avoid cross contamination and pathogens.

Sponges, dish cloths, and other cleaning items were also discovered to be dirty and should be cleaned on a regular basis, such as by microwaving sponges for 1-2 minutes or washing dish cloths every day. To avoid moisture, it's best to replace sponges every day, or at the very least make sure they're completely dry. 

Bacteria of all kinds died in brushes over time. To reduce Salmonella, sponges and brushes were treated with chlorine, boiled, or washed in the dishwasher.

Brushes are more hygienic than sponges, according to the study, and their use should be encouraged. Contaminated sponges or brushes should be replaced or cleaned after coming into contact with pathogenic microorganisms, such as when cleaning up raw food spills. Cleaning sponges and brushes with chlorine, boiling water, or a dishwasher may be a safer alternative to purchasing new ones.


Bedding Risks 

While the kitchen may seem like the most obvious source of germs, bedding can also be a breeding ground for microbes. Studies have shown that sheets and pillowcases can contain a variety of bacteria and other microorganisms, including those that can cause illness. Dust mites, which thrive in warm and humid environments, can also be found in bedding and can cause allergic reactions in some people.

According to the American Chemical Society, humans shed 500 million skin calls per day. As a result, if you sleep for one-third of the day, 166 million skin fragments may end up in your bed every night.

According to some research, men may not wash their bed sheets as frequently as women. According to one study conducted in the United Kingdom, men wash their sheets once every 2.5 weeks, while women wash their sheets once a week. It is important to note, however, that this study is based on self-reported data and may not be completely accurate. Furthermore, many factors, such as personal hygiene habits, lifestyle, and living situations, can influence how frequently people wash their sheets. It is important to note that washing bed sheets on a regular basis can help to prevent the accumulation of bacteria, allergens, and other harmful substances that can cause health issues.


So what does the scientific research have to say? 


One study study aimed to quantify the survival of Clostridium difficile spores on hospital bed sheets during the healthcare laundry process of the United Kingdom National Health Service (UK NHS).

Clostridium difficile spores were inoculated onto cotton sheets and washed using an industrial bleach detergent in a simulated washer extractor cycle.

A commercial laundry process was also used to test spore survival on naturally contaminated hospital sheets.

Two strains of C. difficile survived the simulated washer extractor cycle.

Naturally contaminated bed sheets had an average spore load of 51 cfu per 25 cm2 before laundering, and 33 cfu per 25 cm2 after washing, drying, and finishing.

The microbiological standards of no pathogenic bacteria remaining were not met by either the simulated or in-situ laundering processes.

The study suggests that Clostridium difficile spores may be contributing to sporadic outbreaks of CDI, and more research is needed to determine exposure to C. difficile spores from bed sheets among laundry workers, patients, and the hospital environment.


What can Clostridium difficile do to you?

 Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) is a type of bacteria that can cause a range of infections, including:

  1.  Diarrhea: C. difficile is a common cause of diarrhea in people who have recently taken antibiotics. The bacteria can overgrow in the gut and produce toxins that damage the lining of the intestine, leading to diarrhea.
  2.  Colitis: C. difficile can also cause inflammation of the colon, known as colitis. Symptoms of colitis include abdominal pain, cramping, and blood in the stool.
  3.  Pseudomembranous colitis: This is a severe form of colitis caused by C. difficile, characterized by the formation of a thick layer of pus on the surface of the colon. Symptoms include severe diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever.
  4.  Toxic megacolon: In rare cases, C. difficile can cause the colon to become severely inflamed and distended, which can be life-threatening. Symptoms include severe abdominal pain, distention, and fever.
  5.  Recurrent infections: People who have had a C. difficile infection are at risk of developing recurrent infections, which can be difficult to treat.


Which Microbes are Involved and What They Do?

Microbes are tiny organisms that can include bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa. Some of these microorganisms are beneficial to human health, while others can cause illness. Germs commonly found in the kitchen include Salmonella, Campylobacter, and E. coli, which can cause food poisoning.

  • Salmonella can cause diarrhea, stomach cramps, and fever, and can lead to serious complications such as dehydration, sepsis, and even death in some cases.
  • Campylobacter can cause diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever, nausea, and vomiting, and long-term complications such as Guillain-Barré syndrome, a type of nerve damage.
  • E. coli can cause both food poisoning and urinary tract infections, and can lead to serious complications such as hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can lead to kidney failure.
  • Pseudomonas is a type of bacteria that can cause infections in humans, especially those with weakened immune systems, such as those in hospitals. Pseudomonas species have been linked to infections of the respiratory tract, urinary tract, and burn wounds. It can also lead to ear infections, skin infections, and sepsis.


Here’s some more information on these microbes:

  • Pseudomonas is a common cause of healthcare-associated infections, with an estimated 51,000 cases occuring in U.S. hospitals each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Pseudomonas infections can cause pneumonia, bloodstream infections, and wound infections, among other things.
  •  E. coli is a type of bacteria found in the intestines of both animals and humans. E. coli infections kill an estimated 265,000 people worldwide each year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The most common strain of E. coli infection is E. coli O157:H7, which can cause severe diarrhoea, kidney failure, and even death.
  • Campylobacter is a type of bacteria that can be found in raw or undercooked poultry, untreated water, and raw milk. Campylobacter is the leading cause of bacterial foodborne illness worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), with an estimated 2.4 million cases reported each year. Campylobacter infections can cause diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, and fever, as well as more serious illnesses such as Guillain-Barré Syndrome in rare cases.


Famous Cases of Food Poisoning

Throughout history, several famous people and celebrities have died from food poisoning. Notable examples include:

  • King George I of the United Kingdom died in 1727 from food poisoning.
  •  In 1890, King William III of the Netherlands died as a result of eating contaminated food.
  •  President Zachary Taylor of the United States, who died in 1850 from food poisoning.
  •  King Umberto I of Italy died in 1900 from food poisoning. 
  •  In 2010, actor Corey Haim died from pneumonia caused by drug-induced weakened immunity and food poisoning.

It is important to note that, while food poisoning was a factor in these deaths, it was not always the direct cause of death. It can sometimes be a contributing factor, leading to other health problems.


Best Practices for Minimizing Kitchen Risks

  •  Wash hands thoroughly before and after handling food
  • Wash spice jars and other surfaces with hot soapy water
  • Clean out the sink every night with a mixture of bleach and water
  • Microwave or wash sponges and dish cloths on a regular basis to keep them dry and bacteria-free
  • Use separate cutting boards for different types of food, such as one for raw meats and another for fruits and vegetables
  • Wash cutting boards with hot soapy water or disinfect with a bleach-water solution after each use
  • If cutting board is made of wood, oil it on a regular basis to prevent bacteria from growing in cracks and crevices
  • Use different coloured dishcloths for different tasks (for example, one for dishes and another for counters) to help prevent cross-contamination.
  • Use a dish brush instead of a sponge


Best Practices for Bedding

  • Wash sheets and pillowcases at least once a week in hot water (above 130°F)
  • Use a hot dryer to dry sheets and pillowcases
  • Consider using dust mite covers for pillows and mattresses
  • Vacuum and dust regularly to reduce the presence of dust mites
  • Avoid using fabric softener or dryer sheets, as these can leave a residue that can attract dust mites
  • Consider using hypoallergenic or allergy-free bedding materials.

To reduce the presence of microbes in the kitchen and on bedding, it is critical to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as countertops, cutting boards, faucet handles, and spice and similar food additive containers on a regular basis. Furthermore, it is critical to wash and sanitise bedding, including sheets, pillowcases, and comforters, in hot water at least once a week and to use a laundry detergent. To prevent bacteria buildup, kitchen towels and sponges should be washed or replaced on a regular basis. It is also critical to avoid cross-contamination by keeping raw meats separate from other foods and using separate cutting boards. Finally, it is critical to practise good hygiene, such as thoroughly washing hands before handling food and keeping the bed area clean on a regular basis. 



Study shows most people are spreading dangerous bacteria around the kitchen and don't even realize it (no date) USDA. USDA U.S. Department of Agriculture. Available at: (Accessed: January 29, 2023). 

Food Safety and Inspection Service (no date) Cleanliness Helps Prevent Foodborne Illness | Food Safety and Inspection Service. USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. Available at: (Accessed: January 29, 2023). 

Food Safety and Inspection Service (no date) Cutting Boards | Food Safety and Inspection Service. USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. Available at: (Accessed: January 29, 2023). 

Mattick K, Durham K, Domingue G, Jørgensen F, Sen M, Schaffner DW, Humphrey T. The survival of foodborne pathogens during domestic washing-up and subsequent transfer onto washing-up sponges, kitchen surfaces and food. Int J Food Microbiol. 2003 Aug 25;85(3):213-26. doi: 10.1016/s0168-1605(02)00510-x. PMID: 12878380.

Møretrø T, Ferreira VB, Moen B, Almli VL, Teixeira P, Kasbo IM, Langsrud S. Bacterial levels and diversity in kitchen sponges and dishwashing brushes used by consumers. J Appl Microbiol. 2022 Sep;133(3):1378-1391. doi: 10.1111/jam.15621. Epub 2022 Jun 7. PMID: 35560961; PMCID: PMC9542536.

Tarrant J, Jenkins RO, Laird KT. From ward to washer: The survival of Clostridium difficile spores on hospital bed sheets through a commercial UK NHS healthcare laundry process. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2018 Dec;39(12):1406-1411. doi: 10.1017/ice.2018.255. Epub 2018 Oct 16. PMID: 30322417.













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