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The Dirtiest Item in Your Kitchen Will Surprise You

Multiple spices sit on a spice rack in a pantry.
Shea Simmons/LifeSavvy

When you think about your kitchen, you might assume the sink or faucet is the dirtiest area. You’re right. It’s pretty dirty, but there’s one more, unexpected culprit.

Your spice containers are one of the dirtiest things in your kitchen, and the reason why makes sense.

According to a new study, spice containers are the dirtiest item in consumer kitchens due to cross-contamination. When cooking, many home chefs will unthinkingly pick up spices to season meat before washing their hands. This means microbes like salmonella and e.coli that could be on your hands might transfer to spice containers and simply hang out there. Gross, right?

Thankfully, though, there’s an easy fix to this. After handling any type of meat, always wash your hands with warm water and soap immediately after. Then, season up your meat, and if you mix the spices and food with your hands, be sure to wash them again before touching your stove or frying pan handles.

NETANY 24 Piece Spice Jars with Labels

Keep your spices organized and aesthetic with these containers.

But it’s not just spice containers. Cross-contamination can occur with items you might not even think about. Verywell Health spoke with Tracey Brigman, EdD, MS, RDN, LD, associate director of the National Center for Home Food Preservation at the University of Georgia, who also pointed to dish towels, cutting boards, and utensils all fall into the vulnerable category—as does your phone.

In addition to washing your hands frequently while cooking, be sure to use antimicrobial cleaning supplies—like disinfectant wipes and sprays—to clean surfaces. Placing dishes in your dishwasher immediately after use is another way to avoid contamination as well.

If you’re planning to clean your pantry or organize your kitchen soon, it might be a good idea to add a spice container wipe down to your to-do list.

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is the Editor In Chief of LifeSavvy. Previously, she worked as a freelance writer with a focus on beauty and lifestyle content. Her work has appeared in Bustle, Allure, and Hello Giggles. Read Full Bio »
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