You might think that your kitchen is sparkling clean, but it’s probably 200 times more germ-infested than your lavatory seat.
The culprits are sponges and dishcloths, which can provide a happy home for millions of the bugs that cause food poisioning, which is on the increase.
American researchers, however, have come up with a devastatingly simple answer to the gastroenteritis threat: zap the little devils in the microwave.
If the evidence is to be believed, our kitchen hygiene borders on the deplorable. Many of us change the kitchen sponge only once a month, or even less frequently. We probably wouldn’t leave the bathroom cleaning equipment so long without being changed, informs Times Online.
According to The Age, US scientists have found that two minutes in a microwave can sterilise most household sponges and plastic scrubbers, killing more than 99 per cent of bacteria that cause illness.
A blast in a microwave kills E.coli, salmonella and a range of other bugs, a team from the University of Florida found.
Gabriel Bitton, a professor of environmental engineering, said: "People often put their sponges and scrubbers in the dish- washer, but if they really want to decontaminate them and not just clean them, they should use the microwave."
The researchers said home kitchens were a common source of food contamination, with pathogens from uncooked eggs, meat and vegetables finding their way on to counters, utensils and cleaning equipment.
Previous studies had found sponges and dishcloths were likely to carry the pathogens because they often remained damp, helping bugs survive.
In the study, published in the Journal of Environmental Health, researchers soaked sponges and scrubbing pads in dirty water containing faecal bacteria, viruses, protozoan parasites and bacterial spores.
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