This fact is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the degree of infestation caused by bacteria and germs in the kitchen. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that your kitchen has the potential to even beat your bathroom, when it comes to the unhygienic aspect of it. While most of us are not half the “cleaning fanatics” as Monica is from the hit sitcom F.R.I.E.N.D.S, we’d instantly turn into her after understanding the health risks associated with an unclean or even moderately-clean kitchen. You wouldn’t find it unnatural to walk into your kitchen with a grossed out expression and willing to scrub every nook and corner.
If you carefully scan your cooking space, opportunity lies at every step, for germs to joyously flourish. Whether it’s the fabric used to clean the kitchen counter/floor, corner where the trash can is kept, kitchen sink where the leftover dishes lie, or the cutting board where the vegetables and meat are chopped―germs are everywhere. According to an article published in the Reader’s Digest regarding the top 8 places where germs can hide in your home, 4 places were located in the kitchenThe following section will tell you about the areas to look out for, and the simple and effective ways to eliminate bacteria and germs from your kitchen.
Important Advice on How to Keep Your Kitchen Germ-free
Would you believe me if I told you that home-cooked food is no longer healthy for your family members, especially the children and elderly? Bacteria as harmful as E. coli and spores are likely to evade kitchens, and the major contributor is no one else but us. A survey revealed that most people preferred washing their hands with plain water instead of soap, even when soap was offered to them. Though water is the natural means of cleansing, that doesn’t mean that it is efficient enough to wash away bacteria and germs. The irony is that even though our kitchen has the potential to become a breeding ground for bacteria, it also has powerful tools that can help you make it germ-free. These are discussed in detail below.
Disinfect/Dispose Kitchen Fabrics and Sponges
Researchers have found that uncooked meat, eggs, and raw vegetables are significant sources of bacteria and germs such as E. coli bacteria, which can cause illnesses. These microbial organisms tend to remain on kitchen counter tops, which when cleaned, transfer to the fabric or sponge used. Because these cleaning tools happen to be the ideal breeding ground for these harmful organisms, it becomes essential to disinfect them or if not, completely dispose them.
One way to rid bacteria is to wash these fabrics in hot water; the temperature should be more than 60°C. Another effective way is to use this powerful weapon―the microwave. Just zap sponges and plastic scrubbing pads in it for about 2 minutes on high mode, and the process will successfully eliminate bacteria and germs. Be careful while removing them from the microwave.
Clean the Kitchen Sink
Food items―meat, fish, raw eggs, pork, and raw vegetables―that are washed in the sink, leave their traces on which the bacteria thrives. If you scan your sink carefully, especially the edges, you will probably see a thin layer of mold. Ensure that you clean the sink every day. You can either use products such as a disinfectant spray or bleach. Also, clean the areas around the sink for fear of bacteria transferring to your kitchen counter top, from the sink.
Scrub the Garbage Bin
Though you might be emptying your trash can every single day, it surely needs more than that! Most of us just rinse trash cans in the name of cleaning, and do not bother to scrub it unless we see traces of stuck food particles, or mold growth. Keep in mind that our kitchen is a compact space where we are constantly on the move from one end to the other. Do not keep any corner unclean because germs know how to make their way from trash can to food plate.
Wash Your Hands with Antibacterial Soap
There is a reason why humans had to create antibacterial soaps, and yes, your kitchen should have one, and it must be used every time you touch raw food items, or other surfaces while cooking. There are a lot of things we end up doing unknowingly in the kitchen, like wiping our hands with the same kitchen towel that we used for the knife, to clean it before cutting meat/veggies. Or, licking our fingers after tasting a dish, and then touching the parsley with the same fingers while garnishing. Cooking is a creative task where one tends to mindlessly go with the flow, but to prevent the chances of contracting a food-borne disease, make sure that you use antibacterial soap to clean your hands.
Clean the Cutting Board
I was shocked when I came across a study done by microbiologist Charles Gerba from the University of Arizona. It stated that an average home cutting board contained 200 times more fecal bacteria than a toilet seat!
As disgusting as this fact may sound, the truth is that your cutting board needs a thorough cleaning. To begin with, keep two separate chopping boards for meats and vegetables. The groves created by a knife while cutting food, is an ideal home for the opportunist bacteria. To clean it, wash the cutting board thoroughly with dish washing soap and spray 5 percent vinegar on it. Leave it overnight; the next day, microwave it for 30 seconds on high. Yes, it takes effort to kill bacteria!
Wash and Scrub the Dishwasher
For those of us who hate to do the dishes, a dishwasher may seem like no less than a blessing. However, this is also among the top 8 ideal spots for germs to hide in your home, according to Reader’s Digest. While we may be regular at cleaning the dishes, are we regular at cleaning the dishwasher? If you look carefully, there may be mold and mildew on the edges of the door, preventing the dishes from being as clean as you intended them to be.
Do Not Reuse Plastic Bags
How many times do we tend to reuse plastic bags for packing purposes? Have you ever wondered that may be the bag used right now to pack the apple, initially contained the chicken breast? Although you have “rinsed” it with water, it doesn’t decrease the risk of contracting diseases caused by bacteria like Salmonella. It is advisable to dispose plastic bags used to pack meats, vegetables, and the like. Use fresh Ziploc bags to pack or store food. The same logic applies to the reuse of aluminum foils.
When it comes to keeping your kitchen germ-free, the bottom line is to ensure cleanliness in the true sense of the word. A laid-back attitude such as leaving used and unwashed dishes overnight in the kitchen sink, reusing kitchen towels and sponges for different purposes, or using plain water to rinse kitchen items, will only attract more germs. So do the needful and ensure a safe environment for yourself and your family.