One can never be too careful when it comes to the health of their family and loved ones. So even though cleaning the kitchen is probably one of the most hated tasks in a person’s list of chores, it’s also one of the most important ones. The danger of food poisoning is not something we think about often but it’s something that cannot be neglected.
And since the kitchen is the place where we store our food, prepare and consume it, we’ve prepared this comprehensive guide on how to clean it and what to do in order to avoid getting poisoned.
Clean your home surfaces regularly
Not a big surprise, we know, but it is and will remain the most important thing you need to follow in order to stay alive after eating your food. So here are a few tips on how to clean the surfaces and appliances in your kitchen and maintain their pristine state to prevent food poisoning.
Wipe common kitchen surfaces
Clean the surfaces you’re cooking and eating on with a kitchen detergent after each use. Don’t let dirt and grime pile up, leaving them to harden and making your future a lot more complicated than it should be. It’s very important to take care of spills in the seconds after they occur to avoid ending up with a bunch of stains afterwards.
Disinfect the airYou’ll need a UV light for this, but sterilising the air in your kitchen can actually help to extend the shelf life of many of your most common food items. Airborne bacteria and viruses can land on food like bread, making it go mouldy faster. The UV in natural sunlight usually sterilises the air for us, but in a basement or apartment kitchen, sunlight can be hard to come by. If you’re wondering how effective is uv sterilization, just think about the difference between a sunny wall vs. a dark wall in your house. Does the sunny wall ever get mouldy? Unless it’s incredibly damp, probably not. This shows how effective the UV light in the sun’s rays is at killing germs, so it can be an effective tool for maintaining hygiene in your kitchen.
Deep clean the fridge every 2 or 3 months
This includes doing a thorough check-up for any expired products, cleaning up spills and stains. To make things easier, we recommend that you start by emptying the fridge from everything and remove the shelves and drawers. The smaller ones you can even clean under the sink. Use a solution of baking soda and lukewarm water to deal with hardened stains and a normal disinfectant for the rest of the fridge. If you want to avoid getting spills, consider placing the majority of the food in containers.
Clean the microwave every month or two
Here it depends on how often you actually use it. If you do it regularly, there are probably a bunch of food splatters on the inside walls of the microwave that build up in time. Pay special attention to them when cleaning. You can use the same baking soda and water mixture that we mentioned with the fridge. If the stains are really hard to remove you make a stronger cleaning solution with several slices of lemon or couple of spoons of distilled white vinegar and water. Mix them in a bowl and put it in the microwave for around 3 minutes on a high setting. Steam must be formed inside so that it reaches every small corner of the microwave. After that, just wipe with a clean cloth.
Clean the dishwasher regularly too
Not many people think about cleaning the dishwasher seriously. Yes, this appliance does clean all the dishes and makes them germ-free, but have you ever thought where all the dirt goes? Small amounts of it get stuck in the pipes or on the dishwasher walls, and over time this leads to unpleasant smells and your dishes get unpleasant smudges on them. And every time you wash your dishes in a smelly dishwasher, you actually contaminate them with all kinds of foodborne bacteria, that can cause gastric distress among other problems. Clean the inside of the dishwasher at least once a month and run an empty cycle on high temperature to disinfect it.
Wash everything thoroughly
This includes all the tools you’re using when you cook, your hands, and most importantly – the food you’re cooking.
Start with your hands
The easiest way for bacteria to transfer is if you touch one thing and then touch another without washing your hands in between. The thing with hands is that they are normally riddled with germs even if you do wash them regularly, so if you don’t, things can get really dangerous. One of the instances, where it’s absolutely necessary to clean your hands with soap or disinfectant, is when you’re handling raw meat which might contain germs such as E. Coli, Norovirus, and Salmonella. If any of those germs are ingested, they might cause diarrhoea which is one of the most common symptoms for food poisoning. When washing your hands, make sure to get under your fingernails and lather up to the elbow.
Wash all fresh produce
When it comes to fruits and vegetables, people often wash only the ones they will eat with the skin. Watermelons and other fruits with non-edible skins should also be washed before cutting as they can still transfer bacteria when they come in contact with your skin. Keep in mind that you should never wash vegetables and food in general with soap. You only wash it with water and if there is any soil or pesticides you want to remove, use white vinegar and water to do so. The leafy vegetables should be rinsed under running water and mushrooms cleaned with a damp cloth so they don’t fill up with water.
Don’t wash your raw meat in the sink
This will most likely lead to cross-contamination, especially if you’ve just cleaned something else in the sink before that, like vegetables. When you’re defrosting any food, leave them in a bowl in the fridge or in the microwave on the appropriate setting. Never leave them to defrost directly on the kitchen counter and never handle raw meats there, as well. Always use a cutting board that is thoroughly cleaned beforehand.
Maintain your kitchenware clean
An often neglected item when it comes to cleaning is the dishcloth, even though it’s something that can and does contain a lot of bacteria just from constantly being used. We recommend that you clean it at least once a day by washing it in hot water. The other option is to let it soak in a solution made of water and bleach between each use. Use different cutting boards for the different types of food you’re dealing with. Have one that is just for cutting raw meat, another for vegetables, etc. Scrub thoroughly after each use along with the knives and any other item you’ve used.
Author bio: Jane Wilson is a mum, a blogger and a marketing executive from Melbourne. She represents the local branch of Fantastic Cleaners, a licensed cleaning company, which provides a wide range of services. She also runs a small blog called Modern Housewives, where she shares all kinds of home improvement and parenting tips.