Decorating & Design

February 1, 2010

How Clean Is Your Kitchen?

A clean kitchen is often the way to a happy (and healthier) cook. Not only is it easier to prepare food in a clean kitchen, sterile surfaces and appliances can help to keep your family healthy and safer. Did you know that according to Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada, as many as 13 million Canadians suffer from illnesses caused by foodborne bacteria every year, often the result of contamination during cooking and storage? Clean kitchens can play a role in reducing the risk, according to the Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education (CPCFSE) in Guelph, Ont. Use these cleaning tips to tackle common kitchen trouble spots.

Step One: Toss your sponges.

These are tough to keep bacteria free. The CPCFSE actually recommends using paper towels to wipe kitchen surfaces, or, change your dishcloths daily to avoid the spread of bacteria. 

Step Two: Sanitize surfaces.

Countertops and cutting boards should be cleaned and then sanitized with a mild bleach solution (1 tsp. bleach per 3 cups of water) before and after food preparation. Tip: Make sure you dry the counter before placing food on them to prevent exposure to lingering bacteria.

Step Three: Wash dishes and utensils in hot sudsy water.

Hand wash items with a detergent. Soak plastic, glass, porcelain and enamelware for 10 minutes in a mild bleach solution and then rinse thoroughly. If you do have a dishwasher, choose the right detergent and follow the instructions. Don’t overfill the dish container — otherwise, a film of detergent will be left on the dishes.

Step Four: Sanitize your sink.

The kitchen sink sees a lot of action, so it’s important to clean and sanitize it every day. You don’t necessarily need an abrasive cleanser. An all-purpose cleanser and a little elbow grease with an abrasive pad should do the job, for example. Don’t forget the rim around the sink, and use an old toothbrush to get into tough-to-reach spots around the faucet. Tip: Deodorize your garbage disposal by running a few lemons in it, too.

Step Five: Clean small appliances.

Take apart small appliances, food processors, meat grinders, and blenders right after you use them, and sanitize them with a mild bleach solution. Air dry or dry with a paper towel.

Step Six: Wipe down kitchen cabinets.

You’d be surprised at how much grime kitchen cabinets collect on the outside, from the odd splash of food to heat and oil accumulation on those nearest to the stove. Most cabinet types, laminated, painted woods and vinyl included, can be cleaned with a mild dish detergent and warm water. Wipe them dry with paper towel.

Step Seven: Clean your fridge.

Clean the inside of your refrigerator regularly to ensure food safety. Wipe it down with diluted dish soap, which will work on stuck-on spills. Don’t overfill your fridge — if you do, foods won’t stay at optimal temperature (below 4 degrees C). Plus, did you know that your fridge has to work extra hard if you don’t dust your refrigerator coils once a month? Unplug the fridge and find the coils (usually behind the kick plate under the appliance or around the back). Use the flat hose attachment on your vacuum to suck away dirt.

Step Eight: Tackle your dishwasher.

It may seem strange to wash your dishwasher, but it accumulates dirt, food, grease and soap scum, especially in the corners and crevices around the door. Over time, these can contribute to bad odour and an unclean appearance. Fight back using an old toothbrush dipped in hot soapy water. Read your manual to check how to clean the dishwasher’s drain or macerator. Then, run your dishwasher with one cup of white vinegar on the top rack only. It will help remove stains and freshen it up.

Step Nine: Clean out your cupboards.

Regularly sort through your pantry or food cupboards and discard stale and out-of-date items. Wipe down shelves and sweep up stray crumbs. Make sure food containers are sealed properly (and don’t store food on the floor).