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What Is The Dirtiest Part Of The Kitchen? 8 Places To Clean

The kitchen is the heart of your home—hat's why it's important to keep it clean. Oven handles and sinks are bacterial breeding grounds. But what is the dirtiest part of the kitchen, and how can you best clean it up? Here are some of Abt experts' tips on what is the dirtiest part of the kitchen and how to attack each of them on the regular.
Woman Cleaning Countertops with a spray, sponge and gloves

What Brings Bacteria Into The Kitchen?

What is the dirtiest part of the kitchen? That question doesn't just encompass the dirt that clings to our shoes: it starts with bacteria. That's becuase so many surfaces in this home space are the ideal breeding ground for growth: things may look clean, but warm and wet spaces that are touched often can harbor harmful, invisible colonies. Read on to see some of the top places you should take care of during daily and weekly cleaning sessions and the materials you need at your side.

1. Appliance Exteriors: Refrigerator Handles, Microwave Handles & More

What is the dirtiest part of the kitchen? This one seems obvious, though it hides in plain sight: these are products you use every day, whether you're opening up the oven to bake a casserole dish or closing the refrigerator after pulling out a veggie snack. But these high-contact areas tend to be a popular space for bacteria from both our raw foods and our hands, which means they need cleaning more often than you might think. If they're not taken care of after food prep, these surfaces could rank pretty high on our list. Make sure you clean spaces like buttons, touchpads and handles weekly, or as-needed if you spill or stain them with food. These spaces should be disinfected with a household cleaner: something that disinfects and removes stains. For an even more powerful clean, explore next-gen appliances that work to keep bacteria at bay. Some new washing machines and dishwashers are made with Microban inside. But when it comes to exterior handles, you'll be left to clean them on your own with a simple antibacterial wipe or cleaning solution and cloth. Some swear by vinegar solutions too, but it's best to check your appliance manual to see what will work best with your appliances.

2. Your Refrigerator Interior

Scrubbing your refrigerator interior is one task you should never skip. While modern tech (and advanced refrigeration from more expensive models) helps to keep food lasting its longest, that doesn't mean that groceries will never go bad. And when they do, the inside of your fridge becomes the answer to the question—what is the dirtiest part of the kitchen? Whether you buy poultry, red meat or fish, tears in plastic and packaging will lead to stains and fluids that will sit on the edge of your shelves. The same will happen with fruits and veggies eventually. Every refrigerator needs a regular deep clean to keep away bacteria, yeast and even mold. Remove drawers and shelves, and get ready to scrub. Simple gear like antibacterial wipes can take care of some issues, but you'll need hot water and detergent to take care of deep-set stains and to get to a truly clean interior. It's a good idea to wipe down shelves and drawers weekly, otherwise they'll quickly be a contender for the top contender: what is the dirtiest part of the kitchen? For more info, check out our article on how to clean a refrigerator.
If you're in search of a refrigerator that might make the cleaning process a little easier, explore our collection of fridges on
View down at a sink and faucet with sponges, soap and cloth beside

3. The Sink

You may still find yourself wondering. What is the dirtiest part of the kitchen? The sink might be the perfect place to look—or clean. Whether you're using it for meal prep or cleaning dinnerware before loading the dishwasher, this area is often the garbage can of the kitchen. You might not think it's as dirty as some other locations since hot water is often running through it, but crevices, corners and gaskets are the perfect spot for tough-to-kill bacteria: all in places that water doesn't run. This space should be on your everyday cleaning list: make sure you disinfect it with cleaning agents, paper towels, clean cloths or disposable wipes. Try to get into those hard to reach areas, like where the sink meets the counter as well as any crevices. Don't forget to wipe the faucet and handle!

4. Cutting Boards

What is the dirtiest part of the kitchen? If not taken care of properly, the easy answer is wood cutting boards. Some of the hardest work in the kitchen is done on cutting boards, from mincing and flattening to slicing and dicing. But cutting boards can also harbor bacteria. In order to keep your food prep as healthy as possible, follow some easy steps, like keeping one board set aside for meats and another designated for veggies and fruits. Choose between wooden blocks and plastic models: plastic ones are easy to wash in the dishwasher, while most wooden models will require a bit of extra hands-on care in the sink. Experts suggest scrubbing swith a sponge, soap and hot water. Always dry it manually with a cloth or paper towels to prevent warping, and remember that these should never go in the dishwasher for the same reason.
If you have a butcher block in your home, it's a good idea to still use cutting boards in order to keep food germs seperate from your counter space. But if you're dead-set on using that butcher block to chop, avoid using it for raw meat, poultry or fish. Instead, chop cooked meats, fruits and veggies here (but make sure you care for your wood properly afterwards).

5. Sponges & Towels

Used sponges and towels may truly be the answer to the question—what is the dirtiest part of the kitchen? While they're both common cleaning tools, both sponges and reusable towels left around can harbor germs extremely easily: they're often warm and wet, and make contact with messes all the time. Dozens of species of bacteria, like salmonella, take refuge here. Dish brushes are a common culprit, too. The solution is to wash your towels often (at least once a week) and to replace your sponges at least every two weeks. Toss them even sooner if they start to smell or break apart. Fresher towels and sponges lead to cleaner homes. And dish brushes can often be tossed in the dishwasher just like your dinnerware, too.

6. Countertops

Your kitchen's countertops are where the magic happens, whether you're cooking food, sorting bills or helping kids to make a science project. But what's the dirtiest part of the kitchen? It might be these surfaces. None of these projects should intermingle, so it's important to keep those countertops as clean as possible. A lot of the damage can occur around dinnertime. Things you don't want to touch your countertops include raw meat, older fruits and veggies or any type of food without something like a platter or cutting board beneath. Even if you do keep your countertops as visibly clean as possible, though, disinfecting is important. It's a good idea to disinfect this part of your kitchen once a day, especially if this is where you make your meals.
Cleaning a coffee carafe within a sink

7. Coffee Makers & Small Appliances

What is the dirtiest part of your kitchen? It might just be your coffee maker. Just because it heats up high doesn't mean bacteria can't thrive. Coffee and espresso makers can be some of the dirtiest places in your kitchen if left untamed, with old coffee sitting in the carafe or used grounds and pods filled with moisture. That makes these small appliances (and others like them) a place that harbors bacteria. If not cleaned properly, you may even see visible mold growing on leftover coffee. Check your appliance's manual for specific directions on the best way to keep it clean, but a vinegar solution is often a popular way to clean many small appliances like these. Don't forget to descale on the regular for the best tasting coffee and espresso, too.

8. Reusable Water Bottles & Sealed Tupperware

While this last point might land more in the category of dishware, these items are ones that some people use daily. What is the dirtiest part of the kitchen? It might be one that doesn't spend much time in the kitchen at all. WIth the small crevices, hinges and gaskets where food and water can hide, it's easy for bacteria to grow unnoticed. You can even run these products through the dishwasher and not put a dent in those colonies if gaskets and crevices are still left covered. That's why it's important to get into every nook and cranny of your reusable water bottles, your tupperware and lunch boxes. Items like straw cleaning brushes are must-haves for these moments: they're tough and can move into small spaces. Make sure you use those brushes and hit these items with hot water in order to keep them squeaky clean.

What You'll Need To Clean

What is the dirtiest part of the kitchen? When you sanitize and disinfect properly, hopefully you can keep the entire room as clean as possible. That's why it's important to make sure you tackle every to-do on this list, as well as some of the obvious places, like hitting the floors with a powerful vacum or mop as well as cleaning the kitchen and dining table. There are lots of other ways to keep your home as spotless as possible, like using an air purifier with a true HEPA filter or keeping mold away with a dehumidifier in areas that tend to get a little moist. Explore all of your options in our Learn Center's appliance buying guides, and check out all of our cleaning gear that's sold online and in store. To learn more about the best ways to clean your specfic appliances, call our team at 800-860-3577 and we'll help you learn the answer to the question—what is the dirtiest part of the kitchen?—and how to solve your problems.

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