The kitchen sponge is 200,000 times dirtier than a toilet seat – and could even lead to PARALYSIS

There are 10million bacteria per square inch of a kitchen sponge and 1m per square inch on a dish cloth.

Bacteria found on them can cause Guillain-Barre syndrome, which can lead to loss of movement.

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. And it is not just harmless bacteria lurking on your cleaning cloths and utensils.

Experts have linked germs found on sponges, cloths and chopping boards with a bacteria which can cause paralysis.

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. 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.

Dr Charles Gerba, professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona, leads studies on how diseases are transferred through the environment. His work involves swabbing household items and measuring the type and growth of bacteria.

He told the BBC the toilet seat is one of the cleanest things you'll run across in terms of micro-organisms. But he said we should be more worried about other household items, such as sponges, dish cloths, and reusable shopping bags.

Professor Hugh Pennington, one of Britain’s leading microbiologists, agreed the kitchen and in particular the sponge was among the dirtiest places in the home.

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.

HOW TO STOP THE SPREAD

The Hygiene Council advises all cloths, sponges and towels should be washed above 60C to kill germs or they should be disinfected regularly. An alternative would be to use disposable antibacterial wipes to discourage the spread of bacteria

Clean and disinfect the kitchen work surfaces and chopping boards with antibacterial sprays and wipe. As hands are the main route of transmission of germs during food preparation try not to touch items in the kitchen with dirty hands

Thorough hand washing with soap and water at key times during food preparation is essential to help prevent foodborne illness at home

Good home hygiene habits are essential and regular cleaning and ‘targeted disinfection’ 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. Some experts recommend microwaving dish cloths and sponges to kill germs instantly

By AMANDA WILLIAMS

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