Friday, March 25, 2011

A Cleaner Kitchen

The kitchen truly is the heart of our home. We spend so much time in there (and I'm in love with the clean, white kitchen above) so it's important to make sure it's organized and sanitized effeciently. This article was in the Raleigh News & Observer this week, great tips!

Sunday was the first day of spring. To get the cleaning season started right, we looked for the best advice on cleaning the busiest - and maybe dirtiest - room in the house: the kitchen. For a list of what we should clean, how and when, we asked a bunch of germ experts. The biggest surprise? People with pets are six times more likely to get salmonella-based infections. The culprit is pet bowls, particularly the water bowl. We often dump it in the sink before we start handling food. (Summer's dish is currently being sterilized)
1. Microwave
Fill a bowl with 2 cups water and a whole lemon, cut into slices. Place it inside and microwave for 2 minutes, then wipe the oven out with paper towels. Hot water softens food spills and the lemon cuts grease and keeps the microwave smelling fresh.
2.Stove and oven
Spray stove spills with an all-purpose cleaner and let stand 10 minutes for easier cleaning. Oven spills aren't a food hazard if you regularly heat the oven to 400. Cover a fresh spill with salt until you have time to clean it.
3. Counters
Clean regularly with an all-purpose cleaner. Spray with a weak bleach solution and air-dry if needed.
4. Dishes and dishwashers
If you hand-wash dishes, air-dry in a rack. Dirty or wet dish towels can recontaminate clean dishes. To reduce soap buildup in a dishwasher, occasionally fill the soap dispenser with baking soda or place a small cup of vinegar on the top shelf, then run the dishwater empty.
5. Sink, drain and faucet handle
Clean regularly with household cleanser, especially after washing or rinsing raw meat. Don't forget to clean the faucet handle.
6. Refrigerator
Every day, wipe down the handles, including the underside. Every week, throw out anything that's past its date or shows age. Every 3 to 6 months, empty shelves and clean the inside with 1/4 cup baking soda in 1 quart warm water, then spray with a bleach solution and air-dry. Remove drawers and clean under them. Before you return the food, wipe jars to remove drips. Clean the rubber gasket inside the door to ensure a tight seal. Vacuum the coils in the back and empty and clean the drip pan if necessary.
7. Pet bowls
Find a place besides the kitchen to clean turtle or frog habitats and empty pet bowls, or clean and sanitize the sink before you start washing fresh food.
8. Cutting boards
Most scientists think wooden cutting boards are safest, as long as they are kept clean, sanitized and dry. Studies have shown wood hampers bacteria growth, while bacteria thrive in scars on plastic. Either way, keep them clean by running them through the dishwasher, or sanitize by spritzing with a weak bleach solution (see Want to Sanitize? at right). Always change boards or clean with soapy water after preparing raw food - even vegetables. They grow in dirt, after all.
9. Sponges and dish towels
Change dish towels daily, or more often if they're wet or dirty. You can microwave a wet sponge for 2 minutes, but the time varies depending on the power of the microwave (and if the sponge is dry, it could catch fire). Instead, put sponges on the top rack of the dishwasher at the end of every day.
10. Cross-contamination
You know you're not supposed to put cooked food on the same surface you used for raw food. But it's not just cutting boards. You touch many things while you're handling raw food: salt and pepper shakers, cabinet handles, etc. Pay attention to what you touch so you can wipe it down. It's not necessary to rinse raw meat and chicken; that can spread bacteria.

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