I love to cook.
I get fulfillment out of the creativity of preparing a meal to satisfy the people I love.
What I do not love to do is clean up after cooking. I am sure there are others like me who groan at the thought of that huge pile of dirty dishes and feel tempted to let them sit there for a while.
Besides the fact that you are a grownup who must tend to unpleasant chores, and that the “dish fairy” does not actually exist, there may be another excellent reason to go and tackle that big mess.
That reason is the gross factor.
I am warning you right now, continuing to read this article may result in an overwhelming compulsion to disinfect your kitchen sink immediately. At least, that was my experience when I began looking into this topic.
According to germ expert (microbiologist) and Senior Certification Project Manager of Food Equipment at the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) Lisa Yakas, sinks are riddled with bacteria. In fact, there is only one place that is more germ-infested than the kitchen sink and that is the kitchen SPONGE which resides in the kitchen sink.
That’s right, folks, the toilet is not, in fact, dirtier than the kitchen sink. That distinction goes to the sponge alone. You know, that sponge that you use to wash dishes and wipe down countertops? That sponge.
Let that one sink in for a minute (couldn’t help the pun).
If you are still with us (and I hope you are) let’s consider how to solve this problem of invisible microorganisms covering the surface of your kitchen sink.
The first order of business is to be sure the sponge you are using is new. If there are any questions in your mind, throw that sucker out and get a new one.
Life is too short to cut corners saving dirty sponges. In fact, a sponge which you think you have disinfected could actually be more disgusting than before you tried to clean it. Boiling a sponge or running one through the microwave or the dishwasher is likely to kill off some of the weaker germs but once the tougher ones reproduce you have just made more room for them to live.
After you know you are dealing with a clean sponge go ahead and clean the sink with soap and (hot) water.
Getting the grime and gunk off of the surface of the sink is a must before ridding the sink of actual bacteria.
In order to kill the millions of microorganisms living inside your sink just waiting to make you and your family sick, you are going to need to bring in the big guns.
Clorox or Bleach
A disinfecting wipe like Clorox proven to kill things like e.Coli and salmonella is your best friend. You can even use bleach diluted in water but use caution when doing this near plumbing. Bleach can can get trapped in the pipes and react with other cleaning chemicals like ammonia to cause a dangerous gas that is harmful to the respiratory system. Keep in mind that reactions like this can happen days after you have applied the bleach.
Baking Soda and Lemon
For a safer and more natural alternative, opt for sprinkling some baking soda on the sink’s surface and then scrubbing it with a half of a lemon. Lemons contain a lot of antibacterial properties and the baking soda will help to buff away any remaining grime from the sink that was missed earlier. This technique may not have the potency of bleach or a Clorox wipe, though so weigh that against the risk of fumes accumulating inside your pipes.
Frequency is a Good Policy
In terms of how often to clean your sink, Ms. Yakas recommends disinfecting on a weekly basis at least.
If there is an illness in the house you may consider using a sanitizing wipe even more often just to be on the safe side. Additionally, the handling of raw meat should always be followed by a thorough cleaning and disinfecting of the kitchen sink even if you have recently cleaned it.
The bottom line is that your sink is dirty. It's extremely dirty, even if it looks clean and even if you keep a clean home. Being aware that germs like to live in kitchen sinks and taking a few extra minutes to clean and then disinfect your sink on a regular basis will go a long way in cutting down on the germs you and your family are exposed to.
And don’t forget to replace that sponge weekly so that all your hard work doesn’t go to waste.
Now get back to the cooking you love without worrying about germs in the sink.