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The sponge and the sink are obvious culprits, but new research shows that other everyday kitchen objects can also harbor germs that can cause food borne illnesses or worse.

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  1. 1. Surprisingly Germy Kitchen Items You NeverEven Thought to CleanEven the cleanest kitchen has germs.In a new study from NSF International, a non-profit public health and safetyorganization, when 20 families swabbed 14 different kitchen items theyfound the following ones contaminated with various combinations offoodborne illness-causing germs such as E. Coli, Salmonella, Listeria and moldand yeast. (No wonder that 21 percent of cases of foodborne illness are dueto food consumed in private homes, according to the U.S. Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention.) Here are some of the worst germ breeding grounds,and tips on how to keep them clean.
  2. 2.  Knife blockBe honest: when was the last time you cleaned this, if ever?De-gunk it: Remove the knives, and then turn the block upside down to shake out crumbs.(You can also use a can of compressed air, like a computer keyboard cleaner.) Wash the blockin hot soapy water and get in the slots with a small brush, like the kind designed to cleanbaby bottle nipples. To sanitize, soak the block in a mixture of one gallon of lukewarm tapwater and 1 tablespoon of 5.25 percent household bleach, or just fill the knife slots with themixture. Let it sit for one minute, then rinse thoroughly with clean tap water and place upsidedown to dry. Avoid germ buildup by washing knives and letting them dry completely beforeyou put them back in the block. Refrigerator vegetable drawerSalmonella, Listeria, and yeast and mold are partying it up in here with your cukes andcarrots, and a dirty drawer could contaminate new clean veggies you put in there, Lisa Yakas,a microbiologist and senior project manager at NSF, told it: NSF recommends that once a month, you remove the drawer from the fridge andwash the bin with warm water and a mild detergent. You can get rid of odors with a bakingsoda solution (about 1 to 2 tablespoons of baking soda in 1 quart of water). Let everythingdry thoroughly. Can openerMany people use this handy tool every day, but if you toss it back the drawer without a goodcleaning, you maybe exposing your family to bacteria, yeast, and mold.De-gunk it: It’s especially important to clean the area where the groove meets the can, andmake sure you get rid of all food residue. Even better, buy one that’s dishwasher safe andwash after each use. Food storage containers with rubber sealsYou may rinse out your lunch container in the office sink, but these containers can allowgerms to thrive.De-gunk it: If dishwasher safe, make sure to wash both the container and the lid. If you’recleaning by hand, take special care around the seal and any grooves where the cover attachesto the container.