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Kiwis’ kitchen cleaning habits exposed

Kiwis’ kitchen cleaning habits exposed

Auckland, 23 July 2008. A recent survey of over 1,200 New Zealanders by 3M New Zealand has revealed some disturbing cleaning habits in the nation’s kitchens.

Respondents have admitted to unhygienic practices such as washing shoes, pet bowls, the floor and their own dishes all with the same kitchen sponge; and confess they might even throw a pot out to avoid washing it.

The Kiwi number eight fencing wire spirit pervades the kitchen with respondents admitting to innovative uses for their kitchen sponges, other than the dishes. A shocking 27 per cent of people use their kitchen cloths to clean sports shoes, 22 per cent have no qualms about washing a pet bowl with the kitchen cloth they use to clean their own dishes, and 22 per cent trust their finest china with their every day kitchen cloth.

Greg Brown, 3M New Zealand, Managing Director says: “It is reassuring to know that Kiwis have confidence in their cleaning products, and sponges can certainly be used for all of these purposes. However, you wouldn’t smear dog food all over your wife’s best china. We all know that to avoid transferring bacteria, we should be using a different sponge for each job.”

Over a third of people surveyed admitted to questionable kitchen hygiene habits in their own homes but are rather less tolerant of it in other people’s.

Thirty-nine per cent admit to wiping up a spill on the kitchen floor with their kitchen sponge, and then using it to clean the dishes. However, 52 per cent would not accept a second invitation to dine at a friend’s house if they saw their friend do the same thing.

A significant majority of us blatantly shirk our dishwashing responsibilities with 82 per cent stating they would leave a pot “to soak” to avoid washing it when it was their turn to do the dishes.

Dishwashing avoidance is commonly taken to extravagant lengths with 47 per cent of respondents admitting to having thrown out a pot because it was too difficult to clean.

“There are many products available to take the pain out of pot scrubbing and it is unnecessary to throw pots and pans away because they are dirty,” says Mr Brown, “Perhaps we need to work smarter, not harder on our pots.”

It appears that love conquers all when it comes to kitchen hygiene, with an overwhelming 94 per cent of respondents saying they have not broken up with someone because they have found their kitchen hygiene habits lacking.

When asked what is most unhygienic, respondents pointed the finger at ATM key pads (34 per cent), toilet flush buttons (31 per cent), and kitchen sponges/cloths (19 per cent).

Interestingly, elevator buttons, fridge handles, and pot scourers were rated as least unhygienic, at five per cent, two per cent, and one per cent respectively.

Dr. Teck Lok Wong Ph. D, Senior Scientist/Microbiologist, Environmental Science & Research (ESR) is philosophical about the results saying:

“A toilet flush button actually presents a higher risk to catching harmful bacteria and viruses than an ATM key pad. This is due to the fact that the person would not have washed their hands prior to pushing the flush button.

“However, with the exception of sponges and pot scourers, the other sites are relatively dry and bacteria present are mainly transient. Therefore it would not live for very long and would have little opportunity to grow.

“In the sponges, bacteria numbers could reach hundreds of millions in count but the majority of these are quite harmless if sponges are washed and sanitised, and are used appropriately.”

Reassuringly, 18 per cent of people replace their kitchen sponges/cloths every week and 45 per cent change them every month. A concerning 14 per cent only replace their sponge when it falls apart.

While a kitchen sponge will withstand months of heavy use, 3M’s researchers recommend either immersing the sponge in boiling water for 5 minutes or running the sponge through the dishwasher, including the heated drying cycle, at least once a week but daily is highly recommended.

Dr Wong agrees and adds that sponges should be sanitised either with disinfectant or boiled in hot water every day.

A staggering 17 per cent of people surveyed believe that the colour of a sponge makes a difference to hygiene, with nine per cent of respondents stating that yellow was the most hygienic colour for a sponge.


About the survey

This online survey was conducted by 3M New Zealand in July and was responded to by 1,274 New Zealanders.

About 3M New Zealand - A Global, Diversified Technology Company

3M is the manufacturer and supplier of Scotch-Brite sponges, wipes and scourers.
Every day, 3M people find new ways to make amazing things happen. Wherever they are, whatever they do, the company’s customers know they can rely on 3M to help make their lives better. 3M’s brands include icons such as Scotch Tapes and Adhesives, Post-it, Scotchgard, Thinsulate, Scotch-Brite, Filtrete, Command and Nexcare. Serving customers in more than 200 countries around the world, the company’s 70,000 employees use their expertise, technologies and global strength to lead in major markets including consumer and office; display and graphics; electronics and telecommunications; safety, security and protection services; health care; industrial and transportation.

Speedglas, Scotch Tapes and Adhesives, Post-it, Scotchgard, Thinsulate, Scotch-Brite, Filtrete, Command and Nexcare are trademarks of 3M.

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