Kitchen Clean-Up Part 3: Tips for cleaning the germiest items
By Brittany Anas
Pop quiz: What’s the germiest place in your house?
You’re incorrect if you point blame in the direction of the bathroom or your pet’s feeding nook.
If you answered “kitchen,” though, you nailed it. Also, your kitchen sponges — you know, the ones you use to clean off counters and dishes — are the germiest items in your kitchen? In second place is the kitchen sink, according to NSF, an independent public health and safety organization.
Here’s how you can keep your kitchen clean and avoid some of the common sanitary pitfalls. Afterall, scientists at NSF International found that foodborne illnesses and germs are commonly found in appliances and tools we use to store and prep food if not cleaned correctly.
Sponges: Sponges pick up bacteria during the cleaning process and are typically not properly and regularly sanitized before their next use, says Dr. Rob Donofrio, director of Microbiology at NSF International. Also, since sponges are often wet and left in damp areas or near the sink, they provide ample opportunity for germs to grow. Donofrio says sponges also have lots of nooks and crannies, which makes it easy for germs to multiply.
To disinfect your sponges, zap them in the microwave for two minutes. But, make sure they are wet (dry ones cause a fire hazard) and that there’s not metal bits in them and be careful when removing them from the microwave because they might still be warm. A 2007 University of Florida study found that microwaving your sponges can effectively kill E. coli, salmonella and other foodborne illnesses.
Blender gasket: Salmonella, E. coli, yeast and mold were found in blender gaskets, according to the NSF International kitchen study. To clean out the gasket, you can unplug the blender and remove the jar from the base. Completely disassemble the jar and remove the blade and gasket. Wash with hot, soapy water; rinse and dry before re-assembling. You should do this each time after using a blender.
Can opener: Though it might not seem to get messy after use, always run it through the dishwasher when you’re done using it. Or, hand wash it with hot, soapy water and watch out for the cutting blades.
Refrigerator water dispenser: Check you user’s manual first to see what kind of cleaning instructions are recommended. A common recommendation, though: Use a solution of vinegar and water to clean the dispenser and ice maker.
Keep two — or better yet, three — cutting boards: One for chicken, one for all other meats and one for fruits and vegetables. Label cutting boards so there’s never any confusion when there are “too many cooks in the kitchen.” You can find an array of cutting boards — like this double set of “Farmhouse Bamboo Cutting Boards” — at Bed, Bath and Beyond, where you’ll also earn 5 percent Cash Back.
Read more articles about Bed, Bath and Beyond here.
Other articles you might also like:
- Kitchen Clean-Up: A guide for keeping a clean and orderly refrigerator
- Kitchen Clean-Up, Part 2: Tips for organizing your pantry, cupboards
- See how many calories you can burn while watching Breaking Bad, other shows