The kitchen sponge is 200,000 times dirtier than a toilet seat – and could even lead to PARALYSISThere are 10million bacteria per square inch of a kitchen sponge and 1m per
square inch on a dish clothBacteria found on them can cause Guillain-Barre syndrome, which can lead to loss of movement

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<strong>UPDATED:</strong>

14:32 GMT, 20 November 2012

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<p>It may come as a surprise to the houseproud and 'clean freaks' among us but the kitchen sponge is one of the dirtiest places in the home – 200,000 times dirtier than a toilet seat. <br></p><p>And it is not just harmless bacteria lurking on your cleaning cloths and utensils. <br></p><p>Experts have linked germs found on sponges, cloths and chopping boards with a bacteria which can cause paralysis. <br></p>
<img src="http://www.big-wife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/1cedarticle-2235650-051FFAE9000005DC-286_468x297.jpg" width="468" height="297" alt="Friend or foe Far from being a tool to clean your home, the sponge could be making it dirtier and more dangerous" class="blkBorder" />
<p class="imageCaption">Friend or foe Far from being a tool to clean your home, the sponge could be making it dirtier and more dangerous</p>
HOW TO STOP THE SPREAD<br><p>The Hygiene Council advises all cloths, sponges and towels should be washed above 60C to kill germs or they should be disinfected regularly. <br></p><p>An alternative would be to use disposable antibacterial wipes to discourage the spread of bacteria</p><p>Clean and disinfect the kitchen work surfaces and chopping boards with antibacterial sprays and wipes</p><p>As hands are the main route of transmission of germs during food preparation try not to touch items in the kitchen with dirty hands <br></p><p>Thorough hand washing with soap and water at key times during food preparation is essential to help prevent foodborne illness at home</p><p>Good home hygiene habits are essential and regular cleaning and &#8216;targeted disinfection&#8217; of all surfaces that are regularly touched such as door handles, taps, switches and bin lids can help to reduce the spread of germs around the home </p><p>Some experts recommend microwaving dish cloths and sponges to kill germs instantly</p>
<p>A new study has found there are around
10million bacteria per square inch of a kitchen sponge and a million per
square inch on a dish cloth.</p>
<p>And you would be better off chopping your vegetables on a toilet seat than on a chopping board when it comes to germs, scientists have claimed. <br></p><p>Dr Charles Gerba, professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona, leads studies on how diseases are transferred through the environment. <br></p><p>His work involves swabbing household items and measuring the type and growth of bacteria. </p><p>He told the BBC the toilet seat is one of the cleanest things you'll run across in terms of micro-organisms. <br></p><p>But he said we should be more worried about other household items, such as sponges, dish cloths, and reusable shopping bags. <br></p><p>
</p><p>Professor Hugh Pennington, one of
Britain&#8217;s leading microbiologists, agreed the kitchen and in particular
the sponge was among the dirtiest places in the home. <br></p><p>He told MailOnline: 'It would be fine to use the sponge to wash up with, wiping food off the plates in hot water, but never, never use a sponge to wipe a plate clean. <br></p><p>

</p><p>'There is a science to this sort of thing, and it's not rocket science. There is a certain amount of common sense.'</p><p>Prof Pennington said one of the biggest targets for the Health Protection Agency was a bacteria called campylobacter – which can cause paralysis and is commonly found on kitchen sponges. <br></p><p>He said: 'It is naturally occurring and comes from poultry. <br></p><p>'It can cause something called Guillain-Barre syndrome. <br></p>
<img src="http://www.big-wife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/e808article-2235650-13777F0C000005DC-103_468x286.jpg" width="468" height="286" alt="Dirty truth: A new study has found there are around 10million bacteria per square inch of a kitchen sponge and a million per square inch on a dish cloth" class="blkBorder" />
<p class="imageCaption">Dirty truth: A new study has found there are around 10million bacteria per square inch of a kitchen sponge and a million per square inch on a dish cloth</p><p>'It doesn't affect your thinking or feeling, but it can spread to the peripheral nerves around the brain and effect movement. <br></p>TOPPING THE DIRTY CHARTS<br><p>A Hygiene in the Home Study tested 180 homes in Australia, Canada, Germany, India, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, UK and US</p><p>Bathroom seals caused most concern, with 70per cent failing bacterial tests <br></p><p>Fridge interiors came second – more than 40per cent of homes failed tests on bacteria and mould build-up</p><p>Kitchen towels were found to be unsatisfactory or unacceptably dirty in 36per cent of homes</p><p>Cleanest surface tested was pushchair with only six per cent failing bacterial tests</p>
<p>'People can be effectively locked in.' <br></p><p>In the majority of cases, people will get better, but recovery can take weeks, months or years. <br></p><p>'Always the dirtiest thing by far is the kitchen sponge,' adds John Oxford, professor of virology at the University of London and chair of the Hygiene Council – the body that compares hygiene standards across the world.</p><p>In its latest study the council examines samples from homes in nine different countries, and finds that 21per cent of 'clean' kitchen cloths actually have high levels of contamination.</p><p>The study identifies faecal bacteria in other places around the home, and this varies from one country to another.</p><p>According to the study Saudi Arabia has the dirtiest fridges, with 95 per cent of the fridges in the study failing the bacteriology test for E.coli.</p><p> In South Africa, the dirtiest item is the bath seal, with almost two-thirds with concerning levels of E.coli and 40per cent for mould. <br></p><br>