Was It Something I Ate?  >  A Little Elbow Grease



How clean is your kitchen?

Would you answer, very clean, I think itís clean, or you must be kidding?

Did You Know That Kitchens Have More Bacteria Than Any Other Room In The Home?

You cannot see bacteria. Therefore, everything in your kitchen needs to be kept clean, including you. Most of us take pride in keeping a clean kitchen but clean may not be enough when it comes to killing bacteria or other harmful organisms. Just a few bacteria can become billions in hours!

In order to reduce the number of germs in your kitchen, any surface that comes into contact with food needs to be cleaned and sanitized, including places like the inside of your refrigerator, the inside and outside of cupboards, and the inside of your microwave oven.


What Is The Difference Between Clean And Sanitize?

Clean means to remove all signs of food and dirt, but you canít see bacteria. You donít get 100% clean.

Sanitize means to use a chemical like bleach after cleaning to kill the rest of the bacteria.


What To Use To Clean The Kitchen

The smell and color of the dish detergent donít matter.

There are many cleaners on the market today.

In most cases, you can use warm water and regular dish detergent for general cleaning.

For stubborn dirt and stains, you may have to use a little elbow grease and a scrubbing compound.

Be sure to rinse surfaces well after cleaning.


What About Sanitizing?

Always clean before sanitizing. You can buy a kitchen sanitizer, or you can make your own sanitizing solution using the recipe below.

Recipe for Sanitizing Solution

Mix one teaspoon of liquid household chlorine bleach with one quart of plain water and place in a spray bottle.

Spray solution onto surface. Allow to air dry or sit for 2-3 minutes. Then dry with clean paper towels.


It Begins With You: Washing Your Hands

It really works. People who wash their hands often have fewer colds than those who donít wash them often.

Always wash your hands:

before you prepare any foods

after handling raw meats

before and after eating

after touching anything dirty, including hair, clothes, pets, brooms, mops, the telephone, your face, nose or any part of the body

Use disposable gloves if you have an open sore or cut on your hands. If a sore on your hands is infected, donít prepare meals unless absolutely necessary. Infected sores often carry Staphylococcus - one of the most common types of bacteria that causes foodborne illness.

Here's how:

Wash hands with soap and warm water (not hot) for at least 20 seconds. Do not forget to scrub your nails and wash the backs of your hands.

After you wash your hands, dry them with a paper towel, not a hand towel that is shared, and especially not one that is used for other purposes.

Use the paper towel to turn off the faucet. Then, throw the paper towel away.

Be careful if you use a brush with stiff bristles to scrub your hands. This may cause skin tears, which can be a hiding place for bacteria. Skin could get infected if not cared for properly.

Hand sanitizers should only be considered a temporary replacement for hand washing. They do not remove bacteria as well as hand washing with soap and water. Using them too often can dry out hands and lead to cracks.


Sponges Are The Dirtiest Thing In The Kitchen

Wiping your counters or washing your dishes with a dirty sponge will only transfer the bacteria from one place to another. Sponges must be cleaned regularly or thrown away.

Clean your sponge using one of the following methods:

Wiping your counters or washing your dishes with a dirty sponge will only transfer the bacteria from one place to another. Sponges must be cleaned regularly or thrown away.

If you have a dishwasher, place the sponge on the top shelf and run as usual; be sure to use the drying cycle.


Dish Cloths Are No Cleaner Than Sponges

Using a dirty dishcloth spreads bacteria. It is best to wash dishes and clean kitchen surfaces with throw away cloths. Dishcloths that are not thrown away after use need to be cleaned and sanitized between uses by one of the following methods.

Dip the cloth in soapy water, rinse in clear water and then soak in the sanitizing solution (bleach water) for at least 1 minute. Wring out the cloth, hang it up, and allow to air dry.

Wash the dishcloth in the washing machine in hot water and dry using high heat. Use bleach in the wash water when possible.


Handles Have Germs Too

Faucets, refrigerators, freezers, ovens, cupboards, drawers, and doors all have handles where harmful bacteria may be found.

Wash handles with warm, soapy water both before and after preparing food.

Where possible, use a sanitizing solution on these or any other area that you touch with your hands.


Donít forget to disinfect your telephone too!


Sinks and Drains Are A Hideaway For Bacteria

Kitchen sinks and drains are a perfect place for bacteria to grow.

Be sure to clean and sanitize sinks both before and after any foods are placed in them.

If you have a double sink, you can make a sanitizing solution in one side of the sink and use it for wiping surfaces and sanitizing utensils and cutting boards used during food preparation. Before emptying the sink and after food preparation, dip some of the solution into the other side of the sink and let it sanitize that side as well. Itís safe to run the solution through the garbage disposal as well.

At least once a week, use a clean small brush to scrub around and in the drain to get rid of dirt and grime.


A toothbrush works well and itís cheap!


Bacteria Can Cling To Countertops

Countertops need to be cleaned too! Clean and disinfect all visible surfaces in your kitchen before and after preparing food.

At least once a week, remove everything from your countertops. Wash all surfaces with warm, soapy water; then spray with a sanitizing solution. Allow to air dry or dry with a clean paper towel.

Donít forget to clean all of the items that you took off of the countertop before you put them back.


Caring For Your Cutting Board

Cutting boards can hide bacteria that may then get on food when you cut it. If your cutting board has small holes, cracks or grooves, throw it away.

Wash cutting boards in hot, soapy water before and after each use. Rinse and sanitize with a bleach solution. Spray the solution on the cutting board or dip the board in the solution. Allow the solution to stand on the cutting board for 5 minutes, then rinse and air dry or pat dry with clean paper towels.

You can use glass, acrylic, plastic or wooden cutting boards, except softwoods like pine, as long as you wash and sanitize after each use.

It is best to have separate cutting boards for raw meats, fruits and vegetables, ready-to-eat, and cooked foods.


A lot of people use cutting boards of different colors (e.g. green for veggies, red for raw meats), and types (wood for bread).


Refrigerators Need Special Attention

The growth of many bacteria is slowed down in the refrigerator. However, remember that they are still alive, and some can continue to multiply. Also, refrigerators are a perfect place for mold and yeast to grow.

Always wipe up spills when they occur.

Once a week, take everything out of your refrigerator so it can be thoroughly cleaned. Store the food in a cooler with ice packs while you are cleaning the refrigerator.

Clean and disinfect the sides, top, bottom, shelves, drawers, and handles of the refrigerator.

Let the surfaces air dry or dry with paper towels before replacing the items.

This is a good time to check for expired products, damaged packages, and signs of contamination while items are out of refrigerator.


Remember. When in Doubt. Throw it out!




What Did You Learn?

How long should you wash your hands? (Choose one answer)


Which is the correct amount of bleach to add to one quart of water to make a sanitizing solution? (Choose one answer)


When should dishcloths be cleaned and sanitized? (Choose one answer)


Refrigerators should be thoroughly cleaned at least once a week. (Choose one answer)




Please Select Another Topic to Continue

Letís Start with the Basics

Better Safe than Sorry ó What Not to Eat

Store It Right

The Right Tools for the Job

Clean It! Make It Safe!

What Is Hot and What Is Not



Last Update: 04.06.12

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