Your kitchen is supposed to be one of the cleanest and germ-free places in your home. Besides, this is the place you prepare meals, why wouldn't it be clean and risk-free? However, there are many everyday things in your kitchen that could be making you sick. Take a look at some of these bad kitchen habits that could put you or your family in danger.

1. Gas Leaks And Carbon Monoxide

gas stove

Appliances that are powered by propane or natural gas need to be checked on a regular basis for a small leak or malfunction could be deadly. We're all familiar with that signature gas smell and if you detect it, open all the windows, make sure that the appliance and pilot light is turned off and call the utility company. If the gas smell is strong and pungent, leave your home immediately and call emergency services.

Carbon monoxide is produced when fuel is burned and it emitted from water heaters and gas stoves. Unlike gas, carbon monoxide is more difficult to detect because it is odorless. If not detected in time, it can build up and cause muscle weakness, chest pain, trouble breathing, headaches, and even death. That's why it is crucial to install a carbon monoxide detector in your kitchen. If the alarm goes off, go out and get fresh air and call 911.

2. Cutting Boards

man using chopping board

Although you clean your cutting board each time you use it, it still can be covered in bacteria. To explain, every time you make a cut, the small scratches hold bacteria. Additionally, if you use the same cutting board to for chopping vegetables and meat, you could be cross-contaminating your food which has serious health consequences. It's important to clean your cutting boards accordingly. Wooden cutting boards should be cleaned in soapy hot water. Glass and plastic cutting boards should be placed in the dishwasher for a deep and thorough cleaning.

3. Improper Food Handling

raw steak on cutting board
Lisovskaya Natalia/Shutterstock

Improperly cooked or handled food is one of the leading causes of foodborne illnesses. One common cooking mistake is undercooking food. Certain foods like egg yolks, meats, fish, and even cookie dough need to be brought to a particular temperature to kill bacteria. Also, storing food at the wrong temperature can cause bacteria to grow. Precisely, yeast, mold, and bacteria thrive in moist and warm environments, and leaving cooked leftovers on the stove or counter for too long will provide the conditions for these pathogens to form.

Not washing off produce before eating or cooking can also spread bacteria, and pesticides can cause illness. To add, neglecting hand washing is another kitchen habit that can make you or your family sick. Wash your hands frequently especially after touching meats, fresh produce, and eggs to avoid cross-contamination. Another way to prevent cross-contamination is to keep raw food and cooked food separate.

4. Expired Food

hamburger buns with mold
Rob Byron/Shutterstock

While it is vital to practice extra care while cooking food, it's even more important to pay attention to expirations date and signs of spoilage. Cooking or eating food that is past its expiration date is dangerous for it could be harboring bacteria. Additionally, all illness-causing bacteria cannot be detected with your senses, so its best to toss any food that has gone beyond its shelf time and not rely solely on taste and smell.

5. Can Openers

can opener

Your can opener is one of those things that you don't think to clean. With each use, you are exposing it to the contents of different cans; this could cause cross-contamination between meat products and vegetables. Not to mention, over time bacteria begins to grow. Thus, wash manual can openers after each use with hot water and dish detergent. For electric can openers, wipe clean with a moist dish towel and disinfectant.

6. Plastic Containers

plastic container with food

Tupperware containers are widely used and convenient for storing leftovers or packing lunch. However, what many don't realize is that most of them are unsafe. Most containers contain an industrial chemical called bisphenol A (BPA). It is believed that exposure to BPA causes health effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate glands in fetuses, infants, and children. Therefore, when shopping for Tupperware, be sure that it is labeled BPA-free. In addition, you can opt for glass food containers instead of plastic; they are free of BPA, of course, and they don't stain easily or retain odors like plastic.

7. Sponges

plain sponge

By theory, sponges are supposed to be one of the cleanest items in your kitchen. Though, it is made of a porous material that holds onto moisture and provides conditions for bacteria to grow. You don't have to ban sponges from your kitchen forever, just clean them in hot water with dish detergent and allow them to dry after each use. Additionally, you can even pop it in the microwave for a few seconds to nuke any lingering germs.

8. Reusable Grocery Bags

reusable grocery bags

Reusable grocery bags may be great for the environment, but they can be harmful to your health if they are not cleaned properly or handled with diligence. Specifically, you run the risk of cross-contamination when you use the same bag to carry fresh produce as you do raw meats or cleaning supplies. Instead, have designated bags for different products. Also, make sure to wash your grocery bags every other use to ensure that is free of germs and bacteria.

9. Knobs, Handles, And Microwave Touchpads

man touching microwave handle
Ryazantsev Dmitriy/Shutterstock

The handles on your fridge, oven, and microwave are some of the dirtiest items in your kitchen. They are touched countless times a day, and each time they are contaminated with bacteria like E.coli, Salmonella. These pathogens can cause digestive distress and can even be harmful to young children or those with a compromised immune system. To rid your appliances and cabinets of germs, wipe them daily with disinfectant.

10. Kitchen Sink

kitchen sink

Your kitchen sink may look clean and pristine, but looks can be deceiving. Food waste coupled with water, and remnants left in the drain create an environment for bacteria to grow. Therefore, it is essential to give it a heavy cleaning after you wash the dishes. Commercial disinfectants and natural ones like white vinegar work to keep germs and bacteria from spreading.

Take the extra step and ensure a healthy lifestyle by taking note of these potentially hazardous things in your kitchen!

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