We regret to inform you that most every surface in your kitchen, and ours too, is covered in shit.
The BBC reports on the results of an NSF International study—of only 22 homes, but still—that found 75 percent of dish sponges or wipes were contaminated with coliform bacteria, an organism found in large numbers in the feces of warm-blooded animals. You’re welcome!
While coliform bacteria itself isn’t usually the cause of serious illness, its presence indicates that disease-causing bacteria might be lurking around, too. Sponges are especially notorious germ spawning grounds because they are warm and moist—ick. Research conducted by Dr. Chuck Gerba, a professor of microbiology at the University Of Arizona, has shown that the average toilet seat contains about 50 bacteria per square inch whereas a sponge harbors about 10 million bacteria per square inch.
Moving on! According to the NSF study, coliform also turned up in 45 percent of sinks, 32 percent of counters, and 18 percent of cutting boards.
Aside from never preparing food again and turning to an all-Soylent diet, what’s a person to do? The BBC reports that antibacterial wipes are at best a temporary solution; bacteria and fungi began to regrow as soon as one hour after a countertop was wiped down.
Disinfecting sponges could likely help inhibit the spread of bacteria, as will designating one cutting board for raw meat and one for everything else.
Most of all though, just replace that sponge regularly. Please.