Cleaning the kitchen is a task no one looks forward to doing. Therefore, keeping the kitchen spic-and-span with frequent cleanings makes the job easier and will make food preparation more enjoyable.
It also helps prevent the spread of bacteria. Dangerous bacteria can lurk around countertops, surface areas and on large and small appliances.
Although a surface appears to be clean, bacteria can still be present, reported the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. These bacteria can contaminate food and cause serious illness.
In the kitchen, there is a difference between cleaning and sanitizing. Cleaning involves soap and water, removes visible dirt and removes most of the germs. Sanitizing products provide extra safety because they contain stronger solutions that destroy more disease-causing bacteria.
The cooperative extension recommends cleaning kitchen surfaces with soap and water. After cleaning and rinsing, sanitize the surface with a sanitizer. A good sanitizer can be prepared by mixing one teaspoon of chlorine bleach per quart of water.
A new solution should be prepared daily and can be placed in a spray bottle for easy use. Mark and label the bottle clearly and keep it out of reach of small children.
Next, allow the surface to air dry. Wash your hands after the surface is cleaned and sanitized.
The cooperative extension also recommends these tips:
* Paper towels are ideal to use for cleaning because they can be used once and discarded. This prevents bacteria from multiplying and being spread throughout the kitchen. If dishcloths are used, change and launder often.
* Sponges aren’t recommended for kitchen use. They have lots of nooks and crannies where germs can hide and spread from one surface to another.
* To prevent chemical contamination of food, never reuse cleaning product containers and keep chemicals away from foods.
* Keeping appliances clean is important because they will last longer and help prevent the spread of bacteria.
* Large appliances such as refrigerators, freezers and ovens should be cleaned monthly because they’re used often. Also, spills can occur more frequently.
* Use soap and water to wash the refrigerator. Don’t use abrasive cleanser or scouring pads because they can damage the surface. Greasy buildup may require the use of a heavy-duty cleaner or grease cutter, and a soft cleaning pad.
* Dishwashers are self-cleaning, but check to see if large particles of food are lodged in the strainer.
* Ovens are often self-cleaning and are helpful in making spills easier to clean. After the oven has cooled from the cleaning process, simply wipe away the leftover ash residue. Ventilate the kitchen when cleaning the oven in case it gives off fumes or smoke.
* Unplug small appliances before cleaning and never immerse in water unless directions say it is permissible.
Sandra Stringer is a nutrition educator with the Hall County Extension Office. Call her at 770-535-8290.