A long time ago, I heard an interview with a scientist who said he’d rather eat a carrot stick that fell into his toilet rather than one that fell into his kitchen sink. Me, I won’t eat either one, but he made his point — our kitchens harbor more germs than anywhere else in our homes, including the bathroom. If this bothers you as much as it bothers me, and you’re looking for a few things you can do to get rid of the nastiest of those germs, keep reading! Here are 7 ways to clean up the germs in your kitchen.
1. What to do with a Sponge
Of all the things in the kitchen that harbor the most germs, the sponge tops the list. They’re convenient, but using them again and again to clean up spills or wash dishes can mean a spongy breeding ground for the nastiest bacteria. When you use one to wipe down your counter, you might just be spreading MORE germs, instead of cleaning up! Either toss the sponges and use paper towels instead, or, if you’re too attached to your sponge to throw it away, deodorize it once a week. How? Place it in a shallow dish with about a half-inch of water in it. Put the dish in the microwave on high for two minutes on each side to zap the bacteria. Be careful! When it comes out of the microwave, it’ll be clean, but very hot!
2. Wood or Plastic?
This is the age-old question: which are better, wood or plastic cutting boards? The answer — wood, by a long shot. While this seems contrary to all common sense, it’s all in the biology of the woods we use to make our cutting boards. They absorb harmful bacteria away from the surface, where it dies. But plastic cutting boards harbor bacteria, and foster its growth and spread it around. That’s because when your plastic cutting board gets those little grooves in it from being cut with a knife, they never really get clean. So wood it is, even for meats and cheeses. Just be sure to ash thoroughly with warm, soapy water, and allow to air dry before putting them away.
3. Where’s the Meat?
According to decades of research, the reason our kitchens are so full of germs is because that’s where we handle, cut, and prepare meat. If you want to keep food-borne pathogens and germs to a minimum, be sure you know how to safely handle raw beef, seafood, and poultry. If you’re not sure, always check the handling instructions provided by the USDA. And always wash your hands both before and after handling meat.
4. Wash the Dishwasher
This may sound odd, but if you want to eliminate germs in the kitchen, you’ll need to clean your dishwasher. There are solvents you can use while running an empty washer, but when you use these, make sure to remove and clean your filter, too, if you have one, or you run the risk of spreading more germs around. Ick!
5. Let Them Eat Bleach!
Of course I don’t mean this literally. What I mean is that bleach, while inexpensive, is one of the very best ways to kill germs, so use it liberally while cleaning the kitchen. Follow the instructions on the back of the bottle to dilute it with water, and never re-use a batch once it’s mixed.
6. What to Wash
Here’s a list of all the things I forget need to be thoroughly washed with a bleach solution once a week (if not more often): the floors, the sink, the garbage disposal, the counters, the stove top, the microwave, and last, the fridge. And don’t just move stuff around in the fridge and wash under or around it. Take everything out, wash completely, let dry, then put everything back… at least, the stuff that’s not green and fuzzy.
7. Again… Wash!
It’s surprising the nasty stuff we carry into the kitchen on our hands, shoes, and even our handbags. The worst place to set your handbag when you walk in the door is on the kitchen counter, but that’s where so many of us plunk it down. That’s after we’ve set it on the floor or table at a restaurant, on the floor in our offices, in the restroom… yikes! So take off your shoes before you go in, set your purse on a hook somewhere, and always, always wash your hands before you do anything in the kitchen.
These are all very important ways we can rid our kitchens of some of the nastiest germs in there, so keep them in mind the next time you drop a carrot stick in the sink. How do you deodorize your kitchen and keep it germ-free? Please share your tips!
Top Photo Credit: Pozzetta, Inc.