Think your kitchen is squeaky-clean? Sure, it may appear spotless. But germs live on every surface of your kitchen — from the buttons on the stove to your sink sponge to the coffeepot.
Washing your hands and wiping down kitchen countertops are good first steps, but you can do more. Here are 10 tips to help keep germs at bay:
- Wash your hands properly. Use warm, soapy water and rub hands together for at least 20 seconds. Thoroughly scrub hands, wrists, fingernails and in between fingers. Rinse and dry hands with a paper towel. Use the paper towel to turn off the faucet. Wash your hands:
- Before and after handling food or eating
- After using the bathroom
- After changing diapers
- After handling animals and animal waste
- After touching something dirty (for example, after taking out the trash or using a tissue)
- Before and after caring for a sick person
- Whenever they look dirty
- Clean and disinfect counters and other surfaces before, during and after preparing food. This is especially true when handling meat and poultry.
- Use paper towels to clean kitchen surfaces. Make sure to use them for one task only. Wiping down one surface and then cleaning another with the same towel can spread bacteria. If you use non-disposable cleaning cloths, wash them in the hot cycle of the washing machine. If you use sponges to clean, place them in the top rack of the dishwasher. Replace them frequently. Germs grow when materials are moist.
- Use hot, soapy water to clean your pots, cutting boards, dishes, utensils and countertops before and after preparing each type of food.
- Sanitize all kitchen surfaces periodically to kill bacteria. Don't forget about door and cupboard handles, faucets and trash cans. Use a kitchen disinfectant or a diluted bleach solution (mix 1 teaspoon of bleach with 1 quart of water). The bleach solution needs to sit on the surface for about 10 minutes to be effective. Dry the surface with clean paper towels.
- Clean the kitchen sink, drain and disposal once or twice a week with warm water and soap. Disinfect the drain and disposal by pouring a diluted bleach solution (3/4 teaspoon of bleach in 1 quart of water) down the drain, since bacteria can grow on food that gets stuck in the drain and disposal. Do not mix bleach with ammonia or any other cleaning products!
- Clean the inside of your refrigerator regularly. Wipe up spills right away and clean surfaces with hot, soapy water. Each week, go through your fridge and throw out expired foods.
- Don't forget the microwave. Heat a microwave-safe bowl filled with water on high for about four minutes. Wipe down the inside of the microwave using the hot water and dish soap. Dry with a fresh paper towel.
- Replace wooden items often. Wooden utensils and cutting boards can develop cracks where bacteria hide.
- Keep pets off kitchen counters and away from food.
Greg Breining contributed to this report.
Created on 04/27/2006
Updated on 02/21/2013
- United States Food and Drug Administration. Lifelong food safety — clean.
- Partnership for Food Safety Education. Spring clean your way to a safer kitchen.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An ounce of prevention keeps the germs away.