We all depend on our kitchens for meal prep, food storage, and a source of comfort and wonderful aromas. However, giving it a thorough cleaning often falls to the bottom of the to-do list. A thorough kitchen cleaning decreases the risk of foodborne illness and helps prevent the entry of unwanted pests. It can also maximize efficiency of appliances and protect the shelf life of fresh foods and dry goods.
So, whatever the need may be – upcoming holidays, expected company, or a readiness to promote home health- clean your kitchen and be ready to prepare your next culinary creation! Make these four simple steps part of your cleaning routine: Refresh, Readjust, Replace, Reorganize!
Start your kitchen cleanse by deep cleaning the appliances and surfaces that tend to accumulate the most dust, grime, and bacteria. The best part: no harsh chemicals are required. Gentle soaps, vinegar, and baking soda will leave your kitchen fully refreshed. Make sure to read all cleaner instructions for proper storage and use. To avoid potential irritation, consider wearing gloves and protective eye wear.
REFRIGERATOR: Food may come into contact with refrigerator surfaces. Wiping down shelves, door handles, and gaskets is essential for preventing cross-contamination. Want an even deeper clean? Remove produce drawers and scrub individually with warm water and liquid dish soap. Rinse and dry. If your refrigerator has a water or ice dispenser, don’t forget to give it a thorough cleaning. Refer to manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning.
OVEN : Improve oven performance and prevent potential fires with a quick oven cleaning. If your oven does not offer a self-cleaning option, mix one-part vinegar with two parts water and use a soft-bristled brush to remove any residues, both in the oven interior and door surfaces.
DISHWASHER: The top and sides of the dishwasher door are often overlooked when cleaning. Use a damp cloth to remove spills and residue. Periodically check the drain area of your dishwasher for obstructions.
SINK: Thoroughly wash handles, faucet, and basin. And don’t overlook the disposal; sprinkle in one tablespoon baking soda, add half a cup vinegar, and let stand for 15-20 minutes before rinsing with hot water. Remove splash disposal splash guard and scrub with warm, soapy water.
COUNTERTOPS: Clean countertops with a cleaner that is appropriate for use on that type of surface (try a nylon scrub brush for tiled and hard to reach spaces). Minimize bacteria re-growth by drying with a clean towel.
Microwave: Moisten a paper towel with vinegar and wipe down all interior surfaces. Don’t forget to wipe down the touchpad, handle, and vents.
Coffee Maker: Routinely clean your coffee maker using the clean cycle or the manufacturer’s instructions. General cleaning instructions are to fill the coffee maker reservoir with equal parts vinegar and water. Let the mixture brew halfway then stand for 15 minutes. Repeat this process once more with hot water alone. If your machine has a charcoal filter, replace as needed.
Blender: After every use, carefully remove blender blade and gasket and cleanse all parts with soapy, hot water. Let dry before re-inserting.
Promote food safety by verifying that kitchen appliances are properly adjusted to adhere with recommended guidelines. An added bonus: lower your electricity bill! Optimally adjusted appliances are more energy efficient.
REFRIGERATOR and FREEZER: Refrigerators keep foods the freshest at 40 °F or below; this can maximize shelf-life of foodsand inhibit the growth of bacteria. Freezers should be set to 0°F. If there is not a temperature
indicator, a refrigerator thermometer is a critical tool to ensure efficiency and food safety.
OVEN: Avoid the risks of under- or overcooked meals by verifying that your oven is reaching desired temperatures. Invest in an oven thermometer and check temperature in the centermost area of oven interior.
DISHWASHER: Heating cycles on dishwashers generally destroy bacteria on all surfaces. However, personalizing dishwasher settings promotes cleanliness and energy efficiency. Consider an extra hot cycle setting for heavy loads, or a light wash option for pre-rinsed dishes.
PANTRY: Often forgotten but crucial for maximizing shelf life of nonperishable items, verify that pantry conditions are kept dry, dark, and cool- between 50°F and 70°F is ideal. Periodically check packages for expiration dates and pest damage to make sure they are used at their peak
While a good cleaning often does the trick, some kitchen items may need to be replaced periodically.
SPONGES: Sponges’ moist surfaces allows bacteria to multiply rapidly. Though they can be sanitized for prolonged use, regular replacement is necessary. Consider purchasing sponges in bulk to encourage frequent replacement.
CUTTING BOARDS: Worn, warped, or scratched cutting boards are unable to be sufficiently cleaned. Bacteria can grow on cutting surfaces, be transferred to food, and cause serious illness. Use smooth boards made of plastic or hard wood that are free of cracks and crevices and check
periodically to see if replacement is needed. Clean with a brush and hot, soapy water between uses or sanitize in the dishwasher, if appropriate for the type of cutting board.
ICE PACKS: Cold packs are very useful in lunch bags and coolers for keeping food cold during transport but remember to clean them after each use and inspect for leaks; replace as needed.
TAKEOUT CONTAINERS: Recycle or dispose of single-use containers. We’ve all done it: reheating and reusing our old takeout containers. Plastic disposable containers are generally intended to be for single-use and materials such as paperboard or Styrofoam should never be reused because air spaces
could harbor food particles and microorganisms. Always use food-grade containers for storage and microwave safe containers for heating.
Try out these organizational tips and tricks to promote health, safety, and cleanliness in your kitchen.
SHELF LINERS: Make clean up easier! Dust, crumbs, leaks, and spills are inevitable, especially under the sink, in cabinets, and in the pantry. A removable and wipeable shelf liner makes clean up quicker and easier.
HAND WASHING: Hand hygiene is a must in the kitchen. Have liquid hand soap and a clean, dry towel readily available near the kitchen sink.
BETTER DRYING SOLUTIONS: Moisture is bacteria’s best friend. Invest in quality drying racks that will effectively dry dishes, kitchen cloths, sponges, etc.
If a household member has been ill, kitchen cleaning may need to go to the next level and surfaces that come in contact with food might need to be sanitized. Kitchen surfaces can be cleaned with sanitizing wipes, disinfectant that is labeled safe for kitchen use, or environmentally-friendly ‘green’ cleaners.
- More household cleaning information is available from the EPA at https://www.epa.gov/saferchoice.
- For holiday cleaning tips, visit the American Cleaning Institute’s website: https://www.cleaninginstitute.org/cleaning-tips/holiday-cleaning