A Clean Kitchen is a Healthy Kitchen
Learn how to Clean and Disinfect to Kill Germs that can Create and Spread Illness.
In an average American home, the kitchen sink harbors more fecal material than the bathroom.
Although people may not use the bathroom sink to wash their hands, they are definitely using the kitchen sink. In fact, according to microbiologist Charles Gerba of Arizona State University, the kitchen sink is the “arrival zone” for all manner of germs that have travelled not just with your hands but also with your food. Uncooked eggs, raw meat, and even vegetables can all bring disease-causing bacteria and germs.
Where Germs Hide
From the sink, it is but a short microbial hop to any sponges, rags or dishtowels in the vicinity. Gerba found that after testing 1,000 households in five major American cities that at least two-thirds of all sponges had some form of bacteria that could make a person ill. Ten percent of all dish towel samples had Salmonella.
Although it may not look like it, the dirtiest and most disease-ridden spot in your house is very likely your kitchen sponge.
Don’t use a Sponge!
Death to Germs
Your first line of prevention in stopping the spread of diseases and germs with a kitchen sponge is to stop using it to clean counters, sinks, or stove tops. Use paper towels or bleach wipes, not dish towels, to wipe down surfaces and collect food particles. Then dispose of the used paper towels or wipes. You can make your own bleach cleaner by using a ten percent solution of bleach and water to clean sinks, faucets, and nearby surfaces such as cutting boards. You can also use a germ-resistant or anti-microbial sponge to lessen the degree to which it becomes infected. However, no matter how well you manage to avoid contact between your sponge and bacteria, contact will indeed happen. At that point, you don’t necessarily have to dispose of the sponge, depending on how contaminated it has become (let your nose and eye be your guide). However, you will need to sanitize it.
Sanitizing Beach Solution:
1/4 cup bleach
2 1/4 cup water
According to research by the USDA Agricultural Research Service, microwaving your dish sponge is an extremely efficient way to eliminate contamination–better than the dishwasher with a dry cycle and also better than soaking in a ten percent bleach solution. Although the USDA used a one minute test, environmental engineers at the University of Florida recommend two minutes in order to rid the sponge of virtually any living organism. However, whether you microwave for one minute or two you should only microwave a wet sponge. Otherwise, there is the potential for a fire hazard. Note also that a microwaved sponge will likely be too hot to handle right away. Even better yet, soak the sponge in a solution of white vinegar & water before microwaving.
Depending on how often you cook and wash dishes, a good rule of thumb in terms of frequency is every other day. If you don’t use your sponge often, then microwaving it every time you use it might be a more memorable rule. Beware of microwaving, however, if the sponge has an odor, since microwaving it may spread that odor to the microwave. In that case, it might be best to discard it and start fresh. Although most people know how to use a microwave, it’s also worth noting that you should never microwave a sponge that has any metal in it. Dish towels are a much easier matter. Launder them in hot water with bleach, according to the instructions on the bleach container.
Although it’s alarmingly easily to have all sorts of bacteria and germs spread from the kitchen sink, concentrated primarily in the ubiquitous kitchen sponge, it’s also not difficult to curb the onslaught. Use the sponge for dishes only and disinfect it regularly. Use the dish towels for dishes only and launder them with bleach. Use disposable paper towels and disposable bleach wipes for everything else when you need to disinfect. In essence, use your knowledge of the fact that microbes galore are found in the kitchen and act with hygienic awareness when handling anything that comes into contact with it.
Clean with Distilled White Vinegar
Not only is vinegar great to clean and disinfect with, it is the new “green cleaner.” Although our parents and grandparents already knew this long before green cleaners were popular!
- Edible and biodegradable.
- Non-toxic so no more breathing chemical fumes
- Safe to use around children and pets
THINGS TO CLEAN DAILY AND SANITIZE WITH A SPRAY BOTTLE OF WHITE VINEGAR & PAPER TOWELS
- Spritz surfaces with vinegar and let sit for 10 minutes. Wipe surfaces using hot soapy water.
- Kitchen Sink – Facet and Knobs
- Kitchen Table Tops
- Refrigerator Surface
- Refrigerator Door and Handles
- Stove Top
- Oven Door and Door Handles
- Microwave Buttons
- Kitchen Phone
- The kitchen Sink should always be the first thing you wash and also the last thing you wash. Never start cooking before first scrubbing the kitchen sink and rinsing well with hot water.
Before Cooking: Spray the sink with vinegar and let sit for 10 minutes. Squirt a small amount of dish liquid into the sink and lightly scrub with a paper towel. Rinse well with hot water.
Pour Vinegar into Plastic Spray bottles for easier use.
15 Minute Natural Sink Cleanse & Shine:
- Make sure the sink is empty and rinse out any large food particles.
- Spray sink, rim, and facets with vinegar from your spray bottle.
- Let sit for 10 minutes.
- Sprinkle sink with baking soda and pour a few tablespoons down the drain as well.
- Pour 2-3 tablespoons of white vinegar down the drain.
- Add just a few drops of liquid detergent to the sink and scrub sink with a damp paper towel making sure to scrub the sides of sink and sink rim.
- Rinse well with hot water and dry with a paper towel.
- To shine the sink: lightly spray sink and facet with vinegar and wipe with a dry paper towel.
Mop That Floor
We love using white vinegar for cleaning every room in the house. The kitchen floor is no exception. Just fill your bucket with warm water and a couple drops of dish washing liquid like Dawn. Add to that about 1/2 cup of white vinegar.
When to Disinfect
If you are working with raw meats, fruits, or vegetables, sanitize the sink and counter tops by using disinfectant wipes or a sanitizing bleach solution. Don’t forget to wipe everything you’ve touched including the salt & pepper shakers. This will kill any salmonella or E. coli bacteria that could be present from handling raw foods.
Don’t Forget the Dog Bowls!
Shockingly, if you have a pet, its feed bowl is likely to be littered with bacteria just under the rim, and contains more germs than your garbage bin. However, it will not be as hazardous as your kitchen sink, nearest to the drain.
Where are Some Other Places Bacteria Love to Hide?
Other places at home bacteria love are your TV remote control, children’s toys, pet toys, highchairs, baby-changing mats, training potties, washing machine, toothbrush and hairbrush. In fact, the list could go on and on. However, do not be too alarmed. According to microbial ecologist Noah Fierer, there are bacteria just about everywhere, and you can clean like crazy and some will still be present. As long as you follow the average quick cleaning regime most people have, you can live alongside bacteria without having to worry.
Also Read: Mise en Place for Less Stress