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7 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Soak Dishes in the Sink

by Yaya Maria |

Why Not to Soak Dishes in the Sink

Today we’re going to learn why it’s a very bad idea to soak dishes in the sink.

By the time we’re finished, you’re going to be nice and grossed out… but on the bright side, you’re also going to be a more knowledgeable and empowered dish-washer!

Let’s get started.

Dishes in the sink

1. Bacteria from meat

65% of the chicken sold in stores contains E. coli, according to a study published in The Lancet.

E. coli comes from animal poo, which gets on meat during the slaughtering process.

And it can make people very, very sick.

Consumer Reports found that beef and pork are contaminated with dangerous bacteria, too.

And those bacteria-babies wind up in your sink.

Think about it: you touch the meat, and then you wash your hands in the sink.

And where do you wash the cutting board and knife that you used on the meat? (Hopefully not in the dishwasher!)

If you’re doing it right, you’re washing them in the sink.

Maybe you even wash the meat itself in the sink.

Any one of those things will turn your kitchen sink into a bacteria playground.

Not all of those bacteria wash down the drain, and they certainly don’t magically disappear.

When the washed off bacteria end up in the sink, they begin to thrive and multiply, thanks to the constant moisture and leftover nutrients from food residue that provide bacteria with ideal growing conditions.

What happens if you then fill your kitchen sink with water to let your dishes soak?

You’ve created a bacteria pool for your dishes.


Even if you have a habit of cleaning your sink after preparing meat, it’s probably still a bad idea to soak dishes in the sink.

Meat contains so much bacteria that the USDA says a significant amount sticks around even after cleaning the sink.

And that’s not all…

2. Bacteria from seafood

If you’re a pescatarian, you might be thinking you’re off the hook.

Not so fast!

Seafood, too, comes with a caveat.

The CDC found seafood to be a major source of food-borne illnesses in the US.

Seafood is covered with a mélange of bacteria, viruses, and parasites that cause health problems ranging from mild gastroenteritis to life-threatening illnesses.

Common seafood-associated illnesses include calicivirus, hepatitis A, and salmonella.

That contamination comes from human sewage in the sea, pathogens in the water, and unsanitary handling and processing, among other sources.

Don’t let these pathogens make a home in your kitchen by soaking dishes in the sink helping them to spread out even more.

3. Bacteria from cheese

If you love cheese, you too may have a sturdy population of bacteria in your kitchen sink

Cheeses—especially soft ones—often harbor microbes such as Listeria monocytogenes, E.coli, and Staphylococcus aureus.

Those harmful bacteria like to hitch a ride on the cheese residue left on your plates. From there, they enter your sink and spread out.

4. Bacteria from fruits and vegetables

While some studies have found vegetables to carry fewer bacteria compared to unpasteurized animal products, they are not always entirely safe.

Fruits and vegetables are sometimes covered in such bacteria as Enterobacteriaceae, Actinobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Firmicutes, and Proteobacteria phyla, among others.

Vegetables can even host bacteria such as E. coli. A contaminated batch of vegetables were once responsible for an outbreak that caused least 50 deaths.

That is certainly a good reason to wash your fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating them.

While that’s good for keeping bacteria out of your meals, it’s important to be mindful that any bacteria that you may have washed off could easily be sticking around inside your kitchen sink.

Not an ideal place to soak your dishes!

5. Harmful bacteria from your hands

It certainly is important to wash your hands regularly, especially before preparing food. Hand-washing is the single best-known way to avoid spreading the kinds of germs that cause disease.

But next time you’re tempted to soak your dishes in the sink, keep this in mind: many of the pathogens you’ve washed off your hands are probably lurking there, ready to make their way onto your dirty dishes.


6. Your kitchen pipes are packed with bacteria

Even if you disinfect your sink regularly, your sink will still quickly turn back into a bacteria haven.

Here’s why.

Researchers at the University of Virginia conducted an experiment that revealed that bacteria colonies inside the pipes leading to kitchen sinks grow by one inch per day.

The abundant food residue and moisture inside the pipes encourage bacteria colonies to spread out until they reach the sink itself.

Once they’ve reached the sink, they spread out even faster thanks to splashing water that transports them all over your sink.

7. Bacteria on your sponge

Some people try to rid the kitchen sink of bacteria by cleaning it with a sponge.

But that’s probably not a good idea.

The sponge absorbs bacteria from the sink, and the sponge’s interior is a dark, moist place: a perfect breeding ground for bacteria.

The next time someone uses the sponge to clean the sink (or any kitchen surface), the bacteria get spread around.

It’s a vicious cycle.

The take-home point?

Now you know why it’s a bad idea to soak your dishes in the sink.

Your kitchen sink is packed with harmful bacteria (if you want to find out about more spots in your kitchen most people forget to clean we’ve got just the right post).

Also, let’s face it.

Most people hardly ever wash their kitchen sink.

Even if bacteria weren’t an issue, just imagine all of the food residue and soap scum that builds up, filmy layer after filmy layer.

Does that sound like a good environment to fill up with soapy water and soak your dishes in?

Probably not.

Thankfully, a much more sanitary way to do your dishes does indeed exist.

Just squeeze a bit of dish soap onto your dish sponge, lather up your dishes, and rinse.


No more bacteria bath.

No more filthy water with bits and pieces of food floating around.

This makes it much easier to do your dishes and ensure that they come out truly clean.

One more thing:

Since everyone likes squeaky-clean dishes, here’s a tip.

Have you ever thought about what’s in your dish soap itself?

99% of dish soaps are packed with surfactants, phthalates, and petrochemicals.

Those chemicals form a stubborn chemical film on your dishes during washing… and that film does not rinse off easily.

It clings to your dishes, and at your next meal, it mingles with your food.

Meaning you are probably actually eating your dish soap. Seriously.

Watch this video:


But there’s an alternative: check out the most natural dish soap there is—just 6 ingredients so natural your great-grandmother would understand them.

No harsh chemicals. Nothing but sparkling clean dishes.

Take a peek right here!

(When you make a purchase from links in this post we might receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.)


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