Ensuring that your kitchen stays clean and sanitized is a healthy way of living, especially during these uncertain times. It is essential to sanitize your kitchen after use properly. In simple terms, food and other objects create germs. This is very true with foods like raw meats, fruits, and vegetables, eggs, etc. So, to reduce the risks that can be associated with these foods, it is important to start taking control of your kitchen and properly sanitizing it after use.
The coronavirus pandemic has reinforced the idea of proper cleaning and maintaining hygiene at all times. While we wash our hands regularly for protection against the virus, we should also take a hard look into our kitchen for cleaning and disinfecting.
Ideally, there is a two-step method required by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for sanitization in restaurants and cafes. Still, you can apply this method to your home kitchen as well. Here, we will explain these two steps in detail, along with other important details about sanitizing your kitchen.
What Germs Lurk In Food?
Bacteria, such as E.coli in undercooked ground beef and salmonella in poultry and raw eggs, have the potential to make you and your family sick if you don’t handle your food correctly. But apart from these, there are several other pathogenic microorganisms that lurk around in the corners of your kitchen. The best way to eliminate these harmful substances is by cleaning and sanitizing the equipment, floors, cabinets, countertops, and hands after use.
What Are You Doing Wrong?
You probably think that after washing off all of the dishes and wiping the counter with a cloth, it is time to relax. The fact is that you do most of the cleaning part right, but your kitchen is still not completely sanitized—cleaning and sanitizing work together to ensure that kitchen germs do not harm you or your family members.
In 2019, the USDA implemented a simple two-step process to ensure cleanliness and sanitization of public kitchens. You can follow this process at home to keep your kitchen germ-free:
Step 1: Clean
The first step is to clean to remove the visible bacteria and dirt that may cause you or your family to become sick. Pathological bacteria are capable of staying on the surface for a very long time. For instance, salmonella has the capability of lasting up to 32 hours on the surface. So, when you follow step one and clean, it means that you are physically removing bacteria, dirt, and grime from the surface of your kitchen. However, it is important to note that this process does not kill the bacteria.
The USDA recommends using soapy, warm water to clean the surfaces, such as cabinets and kitchen countertops, and the sink. After cleaning these areas, make sure that you wipe them with a clean, disposable paper towel meant for single-use only. If you intend to use a kitchen towel, make sure that the towel is being used for kitchen cleaning only and has no other use. In addition to this, the kitchen towel should be frequently soaked in hot water and washed thoroughly in a washing machine.
Finally, don’t forget to wash your hands with soap after all the cleaning. Rinse your hands for at least 15 to 20 seconds for optimal results.
Step 2: Sanitize
Once you are done with cleaning, it is time to kill the bacteria. Remember, sanitizing is most effective only when the surface has been properly cleaned.
There are numerous sanitizers that you can use; you can also make one at home. One simple way of making your own sanitizer is by mixing one tablespoon of liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water. If you are not sure about using liquid sanitizers, you can also get a commercial spray sanitizing bottle or a sanitizer wipe.
Use a sanitizer, spray or pour it on the surface and wipe it clean in circular motions with a paper towel. Make sure that the sanitizer completely dries up before you use the sink or surfaces again. Using a commercial sanitizer, follow the directions mentioned on the container before use because some sanitizers specifically instruct users to wash the surface after sanitizing.
Can A Dish Washer Sanitize The Dishes?
If you have a dishwasher, you won’t have to repeat the above process for cleaning the dishes and other utensils because it can do the work for you! A dishwasher can be used to conveniently sanitize and clean the utensils, provided that they are made with dishwasher-safe material, such as plastic, glass, or acrylic.
On the other hand, if you don’t have a dishwasher, you can use soap and warm water to wash them and then use a homemade sanitizer to kill the bacteria. Don’t forget to wipe the utensils once more after using the sanitizer. Plus, utensils can also be soaked in the sanitizing solution for a couple of minutes for thorough cleaning. You can wash them with soap water after soaking in the solution.
Tip: Allow the equipment and dishes to air dry or use a single-use paper towel for best results.
Cleaning The Floors
Kitchen floors can be cleaned by simply pouring some commercial liquid sanitizer onto the floor and using a mop to wipe off the surface. However, it is important to scrub the floors clean with a kitchen scrub at least every two weeks to ensure that the harmful toxins and bacteria are completely removed.
Tip: Try not to wear the same shoes that you wear outside in the kitchen. You can have a separate pair of shoes for the kitchen instead to make cleaning easier.
Sanitizing the kitchen may seem like a difficult and lengthy task, but in the end, the results are always rewarding. Nobody likes to live in a house with a dirty germ-filled kitchen, but most people don’t pay much attention to it. Perhaps with this simple two-step process, you will rethink your kitchen sanitizing techniques.