The kitchen is the heart of the home, but it can also be a dangerous place where bacteria, germs, and mold thrive. Here are 5 places germs are hiding in your kitchen.

1. Refrigerators

Refrigerators can be a harmful breeding ground for bacteria. To ensure your food is safe, get in the habit of cleaning your refrigerator. Use warm soapy water to wipe down all the shelves and drawers. Keep food germ-free by tossing expired items and storing meat properly. Raw meat should always be stored separately from produce in sealed containers or ziplock bags.

2. Sponges

Kitchen sponges are wet and porous making them a habitat for easily collecting bacteria. Replacing sponges on a weekly basis is expensive. If you’re looking for an affordable alternative, dish rags and scrub brushes are great for cleaning kitchen surfaces and dirty dishes. Toss in the washer once a week on the hottest setting to keep rags and brushes clean and bacteria free.

Countertops Photo Credit: ljubaphoto (iStock).

Photo Credit: ljubaphoto (iStock).

3. Cutting Boards

Cutting boards can absorb bacteria in cracks and crevices. A good tip for keeping cutting boards sanitary is to clean boards with vinegar and run through the dishwasher weekly. Designate a larger cutting board in your kitchen for meat and the other for produce to avoid cross-contamination.

4. Countertops

Your kitchen countertops are covered in bacteria. To ensure your countertops are a safe place to prepare food, thoroughly wipe down all the surfaces before and after cooking. Use Lysol wipes or all natural cleaners like lemon juice to prevent bacteria from spreading across kitchen surfaces.

Cleaning Photo Credit: Wavebreakmedia (iStock).

Photo Credit: Wavebreakmedia (iStock).

5. Cell Phones

Although digital devices can be quite useful in the kitchen for searching recipes, your smartphone or tablet is actually germier than you think. Cell phones carry almost 10 times more bacteria than most toilets according to a recent study done by the University of Arizona. The next time you find yourself cooking in the kitchen while using your cell phone, be sure to disinfect it first.

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According to a recent study done by NSF, 36% of kitchen items contain common bacteria like E. coli and salmonella. The best way to keep your kitchen safe from bacteria is to practice good and frequent cleaning habits.