How to maintain a clean and safe kitchen

Because cooking can be a messy process, all areas of the kitchen need frequent cleaning to keep them fresh, grease-free and sanitary. Here's what you need to know about cleaning your kitchen to create a safe cooking environment.

How to maintain a clean and safe kitchen

Eliminate kitchen bacteria

Disease-causing bacteria, frequently found in raw poultry and meat, have become a serious menace in recent years. The effects of salmonella and some strains of E. coli, for example, can be painful for everyone and deadly for susceptible people.

The United States Food and Drug Administration recommends the following steps for cutting down harmful bacteria in the kitchen:

  • Wash your hands: Wash your hands with hot, soapy water before handling food and after using the bathroom, changing diapers or handling pets. Also wash your hands in hot, soapy water, scrubbing a full minute, after handling raw meat, poultry or seafood.
  • Wash cutting boards: Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils and counters with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next food.
  • Wash dishrags: Wash dishrags, dish towels and sponges in the washing machine with hot water. Sponges can also be cleaned in the upper rack of the dishwasher while plastic cutting boards can go on the lower racks.

Safe cooking

Make sure your food is clean and fit for consumption before you start cooking:

  • Separate raw meat: Separate raw meat, poultry and seafood from each other and from other foods in the shopping cart at the grocery and in the refrigerator at home.Never put cooked food on an unwashed platter that previously held raw meat, poultry or seafood.
  • Refrigerate or freeze perishables: Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared foods and leftovers within two hours of a meal.
  • Defrost frozen foods: Defrost frozen foods in the refrigerator or under cold running water, not on the counter.

Cleaning the sink area

Try to clean the sink quickly once a day with dishwashing detergent or a gentle scouring liquid or powder cleanser. For tough stains, follow the appropriate treatment below for your type of sink.

  • Porcelain sinks: Fill the sink with lukewarm water. Add 125 millilitres (1⁄2 cup) of liquid chlorine bleach and allow the solution to stand for an hour or two. If the stains are stubborn, line the sink with paper towels that have been saturated with bleach and leave overnight. Once the bleach has done its work, rinse the sink thoroughly. Don't use bleach on a cracked or porous porcelain sink. It can penetrate to the iron base and cause further discolouration by rusting. Clean it with a combination of scouring powder and water. Repeat if necessary.
  • Stainless steel sinks: Remove surface scratches with a piece of very fine steel wool, then buff the area to a sheen with a soft cloth.
  • Shining up faucets: Commercial glass cleaners will shine up most faucets and fixtures. If your water is heavy with minerals, however, an acidic cleaner like white vinegar will do a better job. In severe cases, a commercial product may be necessary. Use these products as directed. If you have brass fixtures, be sure that any cleaner you use is safe for that metal. To remove small spots of rust on chrome, scrub with aluminum foil. Ball up a small piece of foil with the shiny side out. Rub the rust until it disappears, then polish the chrome.

Scrubbing and cleaning kitchen surfaces is as much a function of health and hygiene as it is good housekeeping. Get started with these tips, and create a clean space you'll look forward to cooking in!

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