We talk to Dr. Tobias Kramer from the Institute of Hygiene and Environmental Medicine in Berlin about washing your hands properly; and about the hotbed of bacteria in every home – the kitchen.

Germs can be a scary thing – they’re invisible to the human eye, but can cause a lot of potential illnesses. Our bodies are full of bacteria, and most of it is helpful in preventing diseases and keeping our skin and other organs working optimally.

However, we can encounter ‘dangerous’ pathogens in our everyday lives. This can happen in public places such as bus stations, gyms, schools, and even office environments. Any place where there are a lot of people in one space has the potential to expose you to ‘bad’ bacteria or viruses.

So how do you prevent yourself from becoming ill through exposure to these pathogens?

According to Dr. Kramer, being too fastidious with anti-bacterial soap and cleaning in your personal environment could actually have a detrimental effect on your body’s ability to fight infections naturally. Just like the over use of antibiotics could end up in resistant strains, so does the over use of antibacterial cleaning products.

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Rather allow your body to build its natural resistance with normal exposure to pathogens.

Where cleaning is important is when it comes to the kitchen

Dr. Kramer advises cleaning your hands well before you start preparing any meal. “Sing happy birthday twice while rinsing your hands under running water, and using anti-bacterial soap,” he advises. This will allow enough time for the hands to be sufficiently cleaned.

When you begin preparing food, make sure that you start with raw vegetables, salad ingredients, and fruits first (after thoroughly washing them), and then move on to your meats.

Make sure that you cook your meat at a high enough temperature to kill any residual bacteria. The meat should reach between 65 and 75 degrees Celsius.

Make sure that you clean your cutting boards well too. Dr Kramer recommends plastic cutting boards as they can easily be put into the dishwasher for cleaning. The same goes for sponges and scouring brushes which should be cleaned after use, and replaced fairly regularly.

Kitchen towels (and bathroom towels for that matter) should be washed on the ‘warm’ setting in your washing machine, or soaked in water over 60 degrees Celsius with antibacterial detergent in order to ensure that they are free from germs.

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.