From countertops to spice jars and refrigerator drawers, kitchens are pretty dirty. Have you ever looked at the underside of your kitchen faucet to find gross-looking gunk? When we think of cleaning the kitchen sink, we often forget about the faucet head, which can breed gross buildup. But what exactly is this gunk, and how should it be cleaned? We got in touch with Patricia Bowman, an associate professor at Johnson & Wales University’s Food & Beverage Management department, to get some answers about dirty faucets.
"The buildup on the underside of the faucet can be food debris from hands, debris, or soil from hand towels or other rags [...] or just buildup of dust and debris from the air when the faucet is not properly cleaned," said Bowman.
If you're wondering whether the gunk is mold, she said there's no way to tell. But it most likely isn't, as mold thrives in dark, damp conditions.
This buildup can also harbor bacteria, which Bowman said can lead to cross contamination and, potentially, a food-borne illness outbreak.
According to a story in The Washington Post, black or brown deposits could be mold, oxidized manganese, iron. The latter two are present in small amounts in water. The Post also notes that black slime results from bacteria feeding on these oxidized minerals.
So what's the best way to clean your dirty faucet head? Bowman recommends scrubbing the faucet arm and head with a clean soap-soaked towel. Once the debris is removed, it can be rinsed with hot water, and then wiped down again, but this time with an all-purpose cleaner.
To keep your sink clean, she said to clean the entire sink every time the kitchen is used.
"The best tip for keeping kitchen hand sinks clean and sanitized would be the same for everything in the kitchen: clean as you go," Bowman said. "If it looks dirty, clean it."
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