When you think about the germiest spot in your home, what comes to mind first?
It is highly likely that you thought about the bathroom. While that's not a wrong answer, it's also not totally correct.
We often assume that surfaces in our bathrooms, like the toilet seat, are the dirtiest areas, but they're actually cleaner than a lot of other places in your home.
Surprisingly, it's the kitchen that is often crawling with the bacteria.
The sponges you use to do the dishes contain more than 100,000 bacteria per square inch, including salmonella. The sink faucet handles are also full of germs, and so is the coffee maker as well as the refrigerator and oven door handles.
But the dirtiest of them all is the microwave.
A staple in home and office kitchens across the country, microwaves make the process of reheating, and sometimes even cooking, less daunting. But because it's so easy to warm up food and move on, we often don't take the time to wipe it down after every use.
It may seem like a hassle to have to clean this appliance daily, but for the sake of your well-being, you should start getting into the habit.
A swab study by Kimberly-Clark revealed that 48% of the tested microwave door handles had adenosine triphosphate (ATP) counts of 300 or higher. ATP meter is a tool used to measure the dirtiness of a surface, and a reading over 300 means that there's a high level of pathogens that could pose a risk of transmitting serious illness.
However, any reading above 100 is considered bad, and a good wipe down is recommended.
Previous research has also found that the insides of microwaves are even dirtier, with swab tests revealing the presence of dangerous bacteria like E.coli.
"We use it to cook our food, but, we also use it to defrost meat," said Dr. Torruellas-Garcia who ran the tests at Microbiology Lab at Nova Southeastern University. "Raw meats carry bacteria like e-coli and salmonella. Sometimes, the food splatters around the microwave and we don't always clean it."
Since we can't really avoid spills in the microwave, the best thing you can do is clean it after each us, either with disinfectant wipes or with warm soapy water.
For tough stains and grease, pour some vinegar (about 1/2 cup) into a small bowl, add equal parts water, and heat it up in the microwave for a few minutes. The steam it emits will loosen up the gunk so you won't have to scrub hard. Use a moist towel to wipe the interior clean.