Think on this: There's probably more bacteria (fecal and regular!) in your kitchen sink than in your recently flushed toilet bowl.
"Sinks tend to stay moist, there's food and scraps in there, you defrost meat in there, and you rarely clean it," says Dr. Chuck Gerba, a professor of microbiology at University of Arizona. Because of that, bacteria can flourish. Not to mention, the garbage disposal spews out water and bacteria every time you run it. So next time you drop food in there, do not be so quick to eat it.
You can, of course, take some steps to keep your sink clean over the course of the day — you know, to keep your kitchen sink from becoming a cesspool. Luckily it's not that hard.
1. Don't let food scraps sit.
It's totally fine if you don't want to load the dishwasher right this second, but at least give your plates a rinse before you plop them down in the sink. The less organic matter on them, the lower the risk of bacteria growing and kitchen pests landing on your food to spread germs. Plus, it'll make them easier to clean in the long run.
2. Give it a scrub.
Once you're done doing the dishes, give the sink a quick scrub with the same antimicrobial dish detergent you use on your dishes. This'll loosen up organic matter and kill bacteria that may be lingering.
3. Let it dry.
Part of the reason that dishes don't carry much bacteria is because they dry completely in between uses — not necessarily the case for your kitchen sink. If you use it multiple times throughout the day, be sure it has an opportunity to dry in between so that bacteria isn't growing in any lingering water.
4. Use a drain cover.
Lucky enough to have a garbage disposal? Put the drain cover in place before you star flipping any switches. Even a perforated mesh one will prevent most of the water and bits of bacteria-laden food from splashing back up into the sink.
5. Spritz it with a disinfectant.
If you're worried about cross-contamination, you may want to squirt the sink with disinfectant every few days (Gerba likes Lysol Kitchen Cleaner and Clorox Cleanup). Just be sure to follow the directions — like allowing it to dry or leaving it on long enough to do the work.
And once in a while, give your sink a good scrub: How To Clean Your Kitchen Sink