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Tips for cleaning your kitchen

March 20, 2001

Tips for cleaning your kitchen



In anticipation of spring, many people make a ritual of spring cleaning. When cleaning a kitchen, it's important to remember there's more to the task than producing shiny floors and neatly arranged cupboards.

Spring is a great time to target harmful bacteria that can lurk on kitchen surfaces and in your refrigerator. Salmonella, Staphyloccus, E. coli and Listeria are just some of the bacteria that may be hanging out in your kitchen. While you can't see or smell bacteria, they are everywhere, especially in moist environments. A clean, dry kitchen helps fight bacteria and protects you and your family from food-borne illness.

A truly clean kitchen relies on more than looks. By following some key steps, you can help prevent bacteria from spreading throughout your kitchen.

Some spring-cleaning tips you should practice year-round to make your kitchen and food safer include:

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Always clean surfaces thoroughly with hot, soapy water. Sanitize your kitchen countertops with diluted chlorine bleach or a disinfectant kitchen cleaner. Use 1 teaspoon bleach to one quart of water. Dry with clean paper towels after each cleaning.

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HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Disinfect dishcloths often. Launder dishcloths frequently, using the hot water cycle of the washing machine. Then, dry them in the dryer. Dishcloths, sponges, pot scrubbers and other moist cleaning items harbor bacteria and promote bacterial growth. Also, consider using paper towels to clean kitchen surfaces. When done, throw them away.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Clean your refrigerator thoroughly to get rid of spills, mold, mildew and bacteria. Clean your refrigerator weekly to kill germs that could contaminate foods. To tackle bacteria, mold and mildew, clean interior refrigerator surfaces with hot, soapy water. Rinse with a damp cloth; dry with a clean cloth. Cleaning your refrigerator with chlorine bleach is NOT recommended. Bleach can damage refrigerator seals, gaskets and linings.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Clean your kitchen sink drain and disposal once or twice a week by pouring a solution of 1 teaspoon chlorine bleach in 1 quart of water down the drain. Food particles get trapped in the drain and disposal, creating an environment that encourages bacterial growth.




For information on food-borne bacteria and how to avoid it, as well as how to handle food safely, visit the Fight BAC! Web site at www.fightbac.org/consumers.

Lynn F. Little is a family and consumer sciences extension educator for Maryland Cooperative Extension, Washington County. Maryland Cooperative Extension programs are open to all citizens without regard to race, color, sex, disability, age, religion or national origin.

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