Bacteria in the Kitchen – Here are 10 common areas where harmful germs and bacteria may be lurking in your kitchen and some great tips on how to properly clean and sanitize them
The Kitchen Sink
Are you one of the many people that think the kitchen sink is a self-cleaning appliance that gets cleaned by default when the dishes are washed? Well, unfortunately that is not exactly true.
Lots of germs and bacteria pass through the kitchen sink. We wash our dirty hands in it. We rinse our raw meat in it. We wash dirty vegetables, dishes, pots and pans in it. Some of us even bathe our babies in it. Unfortunately lots of those germs and bacteria get stuck on the sides and trapped in the fine scratches, grooves and rubber seals of the sink. So, if the sink is not properly sanitized, those microorganisms can continue to grow, multiply, and cross-contaminate.
How to sanitize kitchen sinks?
Use an all-purpose cleaner with bleach and a clean sponge to wipe the sink after each major use.
Be sure to clean the faucet and the knobs as well.
Sponges and Wash Cloths
Sponges and wash cloths are perhaps some of the easiest and most common ways to spread bacteria around the kitchen. We used them to wash dirty dishes, wash the bacteria-filled sink, clean the soiled countertops, wipe the fridge, clean the greasy stovetop, and more. Believe it or not, rinsing them under cold running water and squeezing them unmercifully until you see no more soap suds does not truly get them clean.
How to sanitize kitchen sponges and wash cloths?
Soak them in a bowl of bleach solution (1 gallon of water with 1 cup of bleach) for about 5 minutes. Alternatively, you could also soak them in boiling water for about 2 minutes or place them in a bowl of water in the microwave for 2 minutes.
Reusable Grocery Bags
Reusable grocery bags are fantastic for the environment since they help to reduce the use of plastic bags. However, reusable grocery bags can also be a fantastic host for bacteria. Those “juices” from your raw produce, meats and other cold cuts can seep into the bags and will remain there until whenever you sanitize them. But if you are like most people….your grocery bags NEVER get cleaned.
How to sanitize reusable grocery bags?
Cloth bags – Simply wash them in the washing machine or by hand
Thick plastic bags – Wipe the inside with a disinfecting wipe
These useful kitchen tools can be an unsuspecting host of bacteria. After all, you use them to open cans of fruit, meat, sauces and other foods and the blades come into direct contact with the cans’ contents. But how often do you really clean the blades?
How to sanitize can openers?
Manual Can Openers – Wash the can openers with soap and water after each use. Put them into the dishwasher if you can.
Electric Can Openers – Since these cannot be immersed in water, you can wipe the blade clean with soap and hot water. Then dry the blade.
You may think you have the most effective rubber seal in the world that seals so tightly that it prevent anything from getting beyond the blender flask. But think again.
More often than not, some liquid will get under that seal and if you do not clean it, it can harbor bacteria.
How to sanitize a blender?
Take apart the blender (the flask, the cover, the seal and the screw-on-bottom-that-the-seal-was-in) after each use and properly wash each part in warm soapy water. Let them dry properly before storing them away.
You have probably heard this many times before, but we will say it again anyway. Germs and bacteria can become embedded in the scratches and groves of your cutting board so if you do not sanitize them well, cross-contamination and eventually food poisoning will be soon knocking at your door. A common misconception is that only wooden cutting boards can get this problem and, even though they are the most susceptible, the reality is that any cutting board that it not properly cleaned is prone to issues.
How to sanitize a cutting board?
After rinsing it in warm soapy water, pat it dry and rub the surface with a vinegar or lemon juice and baking soda solution.
Food Storage Container Covers
Food storage containers with seals are great since they keep air out, preserving your food for a long-time compared to their seal-less counterparts. However, like with blenders, food and liquids can get under the seals and if they are not cleaned well, they can harbor bacteria.
How to clean the covers of food storage containers?
Wash the cover in hot soapy water (in the dishwasher where possible) paying close attention to around the seal. You will be surprised what can be lurking under that seal.
Vegetables secrete liquids and sometimes rot in the vegetable drawer, meanwhile meat thaws in the meat compartment making these refrigerator drawers a haven for bacteria.
How sanitize refrigerator drawers?
Remove the drawers from the fridge and wash them with soapy water. Dry them thoroughly with a microfiber towel before placing them back into the fridge.
Also, always practice good organization in your refrigerator to prevent cross-contamination. For example, place meats in zip lock bags on the bottom shelf or in the bottom drawer so when they thaw, they drip on to food below. The bottom is also the coolest part of the refrigerator which is ideal for meats.
Refrigerator Drip Pans
Fun Fact: There is a drip pan under your refrigerator that collects condensation to stop it from running all over your floors.
Also a Fun Fact: The drip pan can be a breeding place for mold and bacteria since it is always damp and seldom ever gets cleaned.
How to clean the refrigerator drip pan?
Remove the drip pan and empty it. Spray it with bleach mixed with water and let it soak for a few minutes. Rinse it with hot soapy water, dry it and replace it to its original position under the fridge.
Rubber Spatulas and Rubber Brushes
These cute but useful two-piece tools can hold bacteria in the creases between the two parts.
How to clean Rubber Spatulas and Rubber Brushes?
Pull the two pieces apart and wash thoroughly with hot soapy water.