Chances are good that your kitchen is a hotbed of germs.
When a team of researchers from Drexel University visited 100 homes in Philadelphia from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds, they found evidence of pest infestation, improper food storage, and disease-causing bacteria in many kitchens.
Here are four areas that raised the most red flags for the researchers:
1. Your fridge
The biggest mistake noted in the study—seen in 97% of homes—was that raw meat or poultry was improperly stored. It should always be on the lowest shelf in the refrigerator, below ready-to-eat foods and raw fruits and vegetables.
Refrigerators should also be kept at or below 4 degrees Celsius, but 43% of those in the study registered higher than that.
2. Your dishcloths and sponges
Sponges were found to be grimy: 64% tested positive for bacteria.
If you’re using them to clean your counters and other areas, the bacteria’s going to spread.
Microwaving kitchen sponges for one minute a day—or running them through the dishwasher—can kill harmful bacteria.
3. In and around your sink
Kitchen sinks were the most likely spot to be visibly dirty: The researchers rated 82% of the sinks they visited as unclean.
4. Cutting boards
Because so many different foods are prepared using cutting boards, it’s important to clean them between use. But 23% of the cutting boards observed in the study appeared dirty, and 76% were worn with deep grooves or cracks in the surface, where bacteria could potentially hide.
So next time your Mum or Dad asks you to help clean the kitchen, remember this article and do so willingly!