Get rid of germs lurking in your kitchen

LOS ANGELES Starting at the sink, public health officials say the metal screen at the end of a faucet is a great place for /*bacteria*/ to grow, which overtime creates a wall of pathogens stuck on the screen. The solution is to soak it in diluted bleach and water, then run water for a few minutes prior to use.

One thousand times more bacteria lies in the disposal area than the toilet, more than a half-million germs that are considered harmful, especially around the slimy rubber stopper. Again it is important to use bleach and water weekly as soap just won't cut it.

Surprisingly it's not the fridge handle that is the biggest concern, but rather the seal around the door. A test of 160 refrigerators found more than 80 percent had molds that can trigger allergies or even contaminate food. Wipe seals weekly with diluted bleach or a disinfectant.

The sponge is a germ magnet, but dishtowels are actually a bigger concern. Many use and re-use them for wiping hands, counter tops, and pots and pans. While it might not be green friendly, experts suggest using paper towels for hands and for counters, saving towels for pots and pans, then wash.

Something we don't think about, but makes sense, is the vacuum cleaner. /*Prevention magazine*/ calls it "meals on wheels" for bacteria. Experts recommend changing the bag frequently and outdoors so the bacteria is not spread in your house. If yours is the bagless kind, use diluted bleach and water to clean inside the cavity.

Don't forget about your door mat. One study found that 96 percent of shoe soles contained traces of coliform, which includes fecal bacteria. Along with spraying the doormat with disinfectant spray like Lysol, leave shoes at the door and don't put anything down on the mat, like groceries or your purse, while you're looking for your keys.

Although they're not in your kitchen, both soap containers in public rest rooms and ketchup dispensers at restaurants have a continual stream of hands coated with bacteria. What that means to you is a good 20-second hand wash with hot soapy water, which is enough time to sing Row Your Boat, Happy Birthday or the alphabet two times through.

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