What are the Germiest Kitchen Items?

Bacteria lurks in some of the most unassuming places -- spots that you may not clean thoroughly or often enough. In fact, studies show that your kitchen is likely the germiest room in your home. Three out of the five of the most germ-ridden areas in your home are all located in the kitchen, according to a NSF International study. The kitchen sponge or dish rag is the single most germy spot in your home followed by the kitchen sink and, in fifth place, the coffee reservoir.

Within the kitchen alone, the NSF's recent study determined that the six items with the highest concentrations of germs are your refrigerator vegetable and meat compartments, blender gaskets, can openers, rubber spatulas and food storage containers with rubber seals.

But these aren't the only scary items in your kitchen. These and other cooking tools host harmful bacteria such as E. coli, salmonella and mold. NSF determined that common kitchen items such as pizza cutters, can openers and rubber spatulas can contain E. Coli, while salmonella was found on spatulas, in blenders and in ice and water dispensers on refrigerators. Yeast and mold were found on everything tested, from strainers to microwave keypads.

These bacteria can make you sick. For some, especially those with weakened immune systems, these germs can cause everything from fevers and allergic reactions to pneumonia and urinary tract infections.

It isn't hard to see why cleaning your kitchen is so important. We've compiled the easiest and most effective ways to clean common kitchen appliances, and also offer some naturalapproaches so you can steer clear of cleaning chemicals.

Check out our slideshow above to learn the best way to clean your kitchen appliances.