We spend many hours of our lives cleaning our kitchen, but even the most spotless kitchens may be growing an abundance of bacteria and germs without us even knowing it. Harmful bacteria are the most common cause of foodborne illness. About 48 million people get sick every year from contaminated food, and while raw meats and produce may become contaminated before they ever reach your home, improper kitchen cleaning and food handling is a more likely the cause.
Wash your hands before and after.
Whether you are cooking OR cleaning, washing repeatedly throughout your food preparation will give you a better chance of defeating the spread of harmful germs. Wash your hands with soap and warm water continuously for 20 seconds for the best results.
Disinfect every time.
Sometimes we think that small spills (wet or dry) can just be wiped up with a paper towel and it’s good, but the truth is some foods contain harmful microorganisms that cannot be removed with the swipe of a towel. Use disinfectant spray and a clean paper towel or sponge.
• Disinfect your all of your handles regularly. This includes refrigerator, oven, sink, microwave, drawers, cabinets …the list goes on and on. Think of all the things you touch on a regular basis, but rarely clean.
• Cutting boards must be disinfected with soap and hot water after every single use. To avoid cross-contamination always cut your vegetables before your raw meats, and do not use the same knife for each use.
Use clean dishtowels & sponges.
Microorganisms thrive in moisture, which is why dishtowels and sponges shouldn’t exceed one use. You can wash your dishtowels in bleach and reuse them. With sponges, you can regularly buy new sponges, or disinfect them by putting them in the microwave for 2-4 minutes. Make sure the sponge is wet before you put it in the microwave and be careful, it will be hot when it comes out.
Bleach the sink.
The sink is the dirtiest place in your kitchen. The combination of old food and moisture make it a breeding ground for bacteria and germs, and oftentimes we clean our counters with the same sponge we use to clean the sink. Yuck.
Add 2 oz. of bleach to 12-24 ounces of water in a spray bottle. Generously spray down the sink and drains, and scrub down the entire sink using a scrub brush. Rinse it clean with hot water, and finish by pouring half a gallon of bleach slowly down the drain to disinfect the mold and mildew growth that you cannot reach. Don’t forget to use rubber gloves when cleaning with bleach. (You may use baking soda and vinegar as an alternative).
Clean hidden bacteria traps.
Change or wash the filters for your range hood every couple of months to ensure that you are getting proper ventilation while you are cooking. Also, clean the dishwasher. This is an appliance that harbors a lot of moisture, so pay attention to areas like around the door and the lowest points of the base. Finally, once or twice a year, vacuum underneath and behind the refrigerator to clear the buildup of dust along the condenser coils.