A Habitate for Mold
It is common knowledge that mold grows most frequently in rooms that serve as a basis for water use. The kitchen, in fact, is the ideal location for mold to grow, as it provides mold spores daily access to a bountiful supply of moisture to thrive in and decaying organic material to feed on.
With the potential of microscopic mold spores naturally teeming in the thousands (if not millions) inside and outside the home, it should come as no surprise that your chances—of acquiring mold growth in your kitchen—are incredibly high. In fact, it is a constant battle, especially in more humid climates or in homes that have moisture issues.
Even if a home does not suffer from moisture issues, the simple daily tasks performed in the kitchen could be inviting and maintaining mold growth. The purpose of this article is to reveal the top ten types of mold-inviting mistakes you’re making in the kitchen.
Mistakes Made at the Sink, on the Countertops and Tabletops, and in the Dishwasher
- The faucet is allowed to calcify or develop mildew.
- Standing water is left in the sink.
- Food, grime, and soap scum is allowed to accumulate on the sink’s plug or in the drain.
- Dishwater and food is left splattered on the backsplash or down the front of the sink’s counter/cabinetry.
- The sink’s food disposal is not properly cleaned and rinsed after each use.
- The sink’s hose/sprayer/spray nozzle isn’t pushed back into place but allowed to droop into dirty dishwater.
- Dirty dishes are left in the sink for long periods of time.
- Dirty, post-washing dishwater is left in the sink.
- Sponges are not thoroughly rinsed, sanitized, and squeezed out after each use; or replaced frequently with new ones.
- Scratch pads or stainless steel scouring pads aren’t properly rinsed off or replaced frequently.
- Sponge or scouring pad holders are not cleaned and dried frequently.
- Dish washcloths aren’t squeezed-out entirely or replaced every day.
- Wet dish washcloths aren’t hung up to dry before being tossed in the laundry hamper.
- Dishes are carelessly washed, leaving food particles on them.
- Dishes aren’t allowed to dry fully before being stacked in the cabinets.
- The sink, as a whole, is not cleaned and dried after use.
- The dish-straining drip-basin accumulates standing water and isn’t cleaned or dried each day.
- The dish strainer or drying rack isn’t cleaned regularly.
- The same drying towel is not replaced regularly.
- The countertops and tabletops are not properly cleaned and sanitized after food prep or dining.
- The countertops are used improperly as a cutting-board surface.
- Tabletops are not cleaned and dried adequately before tablecloths or placemats are set into place.
- The dishwasher is used improperly—too much or too little soap, the wrong settings, opened prematurely.
- Dishes are not thoroughly rinsed before placed in the dishwasher.
- The filters of the dishwasher are not cleaned or replaced frequently.
- The dishwasher is not correctly attached to the plumbing.
- Aprons—for dishwashing or food prep—are not washed regularly.
- Dishwashing gloves aren’t cleaned and dried after use and then pulled inside-out to dry out the moisture left by the washer’s hands.
Mistakes Made in the Refrigerator and Pantry
- The evaporator and condenser coils are not properly cleaned or maintained. (See also this article on the central cooling system.)
- The chosen temperatures are less than ideal for prolonged food storage.
- The exterior and interior of the fridge is not kept clean and sanitized properly.
- Spillage from the water or ice dispenser is not immediately cleaned up.
- Fallen ice is kicked beneath the fridge, where it pools.
- The water-dispenser grill and basin is not frequently cleaned and dried.
- The icemaker is left running 24/7, regardless of whether ice is needed or not.
- The hoses for the icemaker and water dispenser are not properly attached to the plumbing.
- Vegetables and fruits are left untouched and often rot in the crisper drawer.
- Food containers or leftovers are without lids, proper closure, or adequate sealing.
- Food containers and condiment or jelly/jam dispensers are stored dirty/sticky or without ensuring closure.
- Various types of foods are stored on the wrong shelf levels or in the wrong drawers.
- Hot food isn’t allowed to cool slowly before being placed in the refrigerator (Note: this can cause food-poisoning).
- The refrigerator (and freezer) is overly packed with food.
- Foods are not vacuum-sealed before they’re stored in the freezer area.
- The fridge door is opened and held open repeatedly throughout the day.
- The fridge door’s rubber seal has a leak or indent.
- Wet or fridge-worthy foods (such as jelly/jam or condiments) are stored improperly in the pantry.
- Pantry items are not resealed after use.
- Spills in the pantry are not cleaned up immediately.
- Pantry boxed foods may accidentally touch liquid on the counter and then be placed back in the pantry.
- In the pantry, dirty or wet hands are used to touch, move, retrieve, or place items.
- Foods are left to rot or stay beyond the expiration date in the pantry.
Mistakes Made on the Floors and in the Trash Bin
- The floors are not swept and mopped regularly.
- Water drips and spills are not cleaned immediately.
- The wrong floor soap is used for a particular flooring.
- The wrong type of mop is used for a particular flooring.
- The broom or mop is not cleaned often.
- Certain appliances, shelving, and cabinets/counters are not swept and mopped under.
- The floor rug is allowed to accumulate moisture or spills and not properly cleaned.
- The floor rug is not completely dried before being put back in place after washing or a water spill.
- Pet dishes (especially water) are not cleaned, or cleaned under and around after every meal.
- The trash bin (and lid) is not cleaned on the outside or inside regularly or as splatter/spillage occurs.
- The wrong-fitting trash bags are used.
- Items are thrown into the trash bin instead of dropped (this raises the risk of splatter or missing and splattering material on the wall and floor behind the trash can that usually goes unnoticed).
Mistakes Made at the Stove/Oven and Microwave
- The stove top is not wiped down after every use.
- The metal bowls beneath electric heating elements aren’t removed and cleaned after spills.
- The metal catchings around the gas stove heating elements aren’t lifted out and cleaned under.
- The hood above the stove is left to accumulate grease and grime.
- The hood vent or intake fan isn’t cleared of debris regularly.
- Food items like eggs are broken and then tossed from the stovetop to the trash bin. (This leaves a trail of egg white goo that usually goes unnoticed along the counters, side of counters, and on walls or flooring.)
- Freestanding stove/oven combos aren’t pulled out and cleaned on the sides and underneath.
- Spillage in the oven isn’t cleaned up immediately after it cools down.
- Microwaves above the stove are allowed to accumulate the grease and grime on the outside from the stovetop.
- Spillage or splatter in the microwave isn’t cleaned up immediately.
Mistakes Made in the Construction of a Kitchen
- Fitting the floor with porous or absorbent materials (some kitchens are even carpeted).
- Fitting the sink, counter, or backsplash out of porous or absorbent material.
- Using matte-finish (wall or furniture) paint.
- Using wood in places that will come in direct or splash-based contact with water.
- Not sealing and mounting the faucet, sink, or countertops properly.
- Not inserting a hood or stove-top venting fan (this is illegal and not “up to code” in most states).
- And, most importantly, incorrect or unprofessional plumbing work.
If you or anyone else in the home is guilty of these mold-inviting mistakes, please practice proper mold-prevention immediately and stop supplying mold spores with moisture to thrive in and decaying organic material to feed on.
For more information regarding mold, mold prevention, and mold solutions, please check out the rest of MoldBlogger.com.
Amanda Mott is the mother and personal chef of two boys, the domestic technician of a three-bedroom town home, and occasionally, a freelance writer and editor. Feel free to follow her on Twitter @TheWifesLife