When you think of the dirtiest surface in your home, you might think of a deep and round lip basin from which water can rinse.
No, this is not your toilet. This is your kitchen sink.
Although the nauseating effect may cause doubtful bathroom cleanliness, several studies have concluded that the kitchen is actually the room with the most bacteria in the home.
It has been found that potentially dangerous bacteria not only frequently appear in places where you prepare and eat food, but also in places where you wash dishes.
A widely cited study published by Gerba in 1998 found that compared with the bathroom, the kitchen is more contaminated with bacteria (including fecal bacteria), and the toilet seat is the least contaminated place. The study found that the most contaminated surfaces include kitchen sponges, rags, and sink drainage areas.
With this in mind, CTVNews.ca asked Gerba and two food safety experts to weigh the most hygienic way to wash hands.
We asked you whether you should soak your dishes in hot water; whether splashes of dirty dishwashing water can spread bacteria; and if we should abandon sponges once and for all. Here are some of the most important points.
"Soap won't kill anything"
Don't be fooled by soaps with antibacterial labels. According to experts, one of the most common misconceptions about washing dishes can be summed up in one sentence: "Soap will not kill anything."
"Soap is not a disinfectant. It is not designed to kill microorganisms," Claudia Narvaez, a food safety expert and professor at the University of Manitoba, explained to CTVNews.ca.
"It will kill some bacteria, but not those that are more resistant to environmental conditions, such as Salmonella or E. coli."
But this is not to say that you should give up the foam the next time you fill the sink. Dishwashing detergent is used as a degreasing agent to remove food residues and fat from tableware and cooking utensils.
Both Narvaez and Gerba believe that if there is no soap, you may leave traces of organic matter-this is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
"I will wash your dishes in half an hour, otherwise the bacteria will start to grow," Gerba said.
Use bleach or hot water for real disinfection
The two food safety experts we spoke to agreed that the only way to truly sanitize dishes when washing hands is to soak them in hot water or a diluted bleach solution—especially when handling raw meat.
Keith Warriner, a professor of food safety at the University of Guelph, explains: "When you are handling chicken, it is correct to soak it-but don't soak it in soap, because it has no effect. "
"Also, if you just soak it in soapy water and splash it, you are now full of salmonella."
After washing the dishes with soap and water to remove any remaining dirt, both Warriner and Narvaez recommend soaking them in warm water and a teaspoon of bleach for disinfection. If you are cautious about using bleach, soak the utensils in hot water (at least 77 degrees Celsius) for two minutes to kill any remaining bacteria.
But do ordinary people really need to disinfect tableware? Not all experts agree.
"Unless you have a weakened immune system or have children, I don't think you need to do this," Gerba said.
"If there are elderly people or children under the age of 5, I will do this because you want to reduce any mistakes that happen."
However, all three experts agreed that it is important to disinfect the kitchen sink and surrounding countertops at least once a week to kill any harmful bacteria.