Kitchen Cleaning Tips for a Healthy Lifestyle

The most popular or famous chefs in the world would be nowhere without clean pots and dishes. Dirty counters and tables lead to cross contamination and the spread of food borne illness to food. The same holds true for home kitchens. Cleaning is a necessary evil in the kitchen. It has to be done regularly and thoroughly in order to ensure that the kitchen is a safe place to prepare meals. Very few people take proud ownership of cleaning, viewing it as an unpleasant job to be done as quickly as possible. This is understandable. And as the leader of the pack, it is your responsibility to ensure that everyone in the house understands how to clean quickly, thoroughly and SAFELY.

Prior to Use
Step one in safe cleaning is the purchasing process.  If possible, purchase products that do not need to be mixed. If they do need to be mixed, be sure it is not with anything other than water. Purchases should be made with container sizes that are easy to handle. 

In addition to cleaning products, the equipment needed to handle cleaning products safely must be available in a kitchen.  Safety goggles, heavy gloves, brushes and cleaning clothes may be some of the items that you'll need.

Everything in Its Own Cubby Hole
Cleaning supplies should be stored separately from food and utensils, in cool, dry areas. To make this easy, assemble a "bucket" storage. Purchase several colorful plastic buckets or children's playground pails. Store all sanitizing supplies in the blue bucket- floor cleaning supplies in the yellow bucket, oven cleaning and scrubbing supplies in the green bucket, etc. Bucket storage ensures that cleaning supplies are easy to get to and are properly stored until needed.

Clean versus Sanitary
Remind that CLEAN means the absence of dirt and SANITARY means the absence of illness-causing bacteria. Make a list of the areas in the kitchen that need to be kept clean and that need to be sanitized. Here is a partial list:

Clean.  Floors, walls, ventilating hoods over stoves, handles, fronts and sides of ovens, refrigerators, cabinets, etc.

Sanitized.  All food surface contact areas such as kitchen counters or tables, all eating utensils, food and beverage containers, pots, pans, interior of refrigerators, oven shelves, stove tops, dish racks, interior of dish washer, ice maker attachments on refrigerators, sponges and kitchen towels.

Cleaning can be achieved with  just hot water, soap or mild detergent. Sanitizing requires heat over 180 degrees or sanitizing chemicals. Sanitizing temperatures are the type of temperature might be reached in a home dishwasher's rinse cycle.  If heat is not an option, then sanitizing cleaning products or dilute bleach must be used. The rule of thumb for a kitchen bleach solution is about 1 Tablespoon of bleach for a quart of water.

Cutting Board Safety
When talking about food safety, remember that cleaning and sanitizing must occur at frequent intervals to be effective. Cutting boards and knives must be sanitized between uses and whenever changing from one category of food to another. It's a good idea to have several cutting boards, each used for one category of food.

Color-coding the cutting boards makes it easy to identify which board is to be used for which food. Generally, different cutting boards should be used for meat, dairy, fish and vegetables. If  you  feel this is too much, have  at least  two cutting boards, one for raw foods, like chicken and fish,  and one for foods that won't be cooked before serving ( like deli meats or cheeses).


Cutting boards should be periodically soaked in a dilute bleach solution and rinsed well to get rid of bacteria that may have gotten into small cracks or cuts. Always allow cutting boards to air dry and store where there's lots of air circulation.

Beyond the Counter
A clean and sanitized kitchen is the basis for food safety.  You need to think "outside the box," as well. For example, everyone seems to have an insulated travel mug for hot beverages and/or a sports' bottle for cold beverages. These items need to be sanitized on at least a daily basis. If available, the easiest way to sanitize them is to throw them in the dishwasher, along with the day's dishes. If this is not an option, then they should be scrubbed with soap and water, rinsed with a dilute bleach solution or sanitizer and allowed to air dry.  Lunch boxes, thermoses, insulated food carrying cases and anything else used to transport food to work or school should be cleaned and sanitized on a regular schedule.

Make a mental tour of your kitchen and the rest of your home.  Prepare a list of areas that need to be cleaned and sanitized, beyond the usual cutting boards and counters, to ensure healthy food preparation and storage. Here are some ideas:


Refrigerator.: Shelves and drawers need to be kept clean, water dispensers or ice makers need to be sanitized. Compressor covers (usually on the back or on the bottom of the refrigerator) need to be cleaned, to ensure airflow.

Drawers. If knives or utensils are kept in drawers or holders, they need to be sanitized so they are ready for use.

Storage Bins. If under counter space is used to store potatoes, onions and nonperishable fruit, like apples, be sure this area is cleaned on a regular basis.

Overhead hoods. If your stove has an overhead vent, the filters need to be cleaned on a regular basis and the hood kept free of dirt and grease.

Dish rack. Items used to air dry dishes, glasses and utensils must be sanitized on a regular basis. If you put a sanitized glass on a dirty dish rack, you wind up with a dirty glass.

Eating Areas

Table- needs to be cleaned and sanitized after each meal or snack

Napkin holders, salt and pepper shakers, condiment dispensers- need to be sanitized on a regular basis to avoid cross contamination

High chairs, children's eating areas- need to be cleaned and sanitized after each meal or snack

Outdoor eating tables- need to be regularly cleaned and sanitized

Indoor and outdoor trash cans- need to be cleaned on a regular basis. They should have tight-fitting lids to prevent cross contamination.

Other Areas

Outdoor grill- grill racks need to be brushed and cleaned, interior of grill cover needs to be cleaned on a regular basis. Cleaning tools, such as wire brushes, need to be kept clean, as well

Automobile beverage holders- need to be sanitized on a regular basis

Bathroom- if water glasses are available in bathrooms, disposable is best. If nondisposables are used, be sure they are not shared and that they are sanitized on a regular basis.
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