When doing a little spring cleaning take a little longer to clean the kitchen. Better yet, start in the kitchen. According to a study by the University of Arizona, the kitchen is the most germ-infested spot in the house.
• Sponges — To wipe out bacteria that thrive in sponges and dishcloths, soak in a solution of 3/4 cup bleach to 1 gallon water, three times a week, then air dry. Better still, safety experts recommend using paper towels to clean up spills. Then dispose of the paper towels. Of course, we all know that microwaving your damp sponge for 1 minute also kills most bacteria.
• Cutting boards — Cross-contamination accounts for one third of foodborne illnesses. To avoid exposure from cutting boards, knives and other utensils make sure boards and knives used to prepare raw meat, poultry and fish don’t come into contact with ready-to-eat foods. Use different cutting boards for different foods.
• Hands — When preparing food, wash your hands before and after handling, as well as after touching pets, changing diapers or using the bathroom. If you have a cut or wound of some sort, wear rubber gloves.
• Counters — Sanitize kitchen counter tops with a commercial bleach-based cleanser or make one of your own using 1 teaspoon bleach in 1 quart water. Counter tops (and cutting boards) should be flooded with the bleach solution and allowed to air dry.
• The Fridge — To keep food cold enough to slow bacterial growth the temperature inside your refrigerator should be 40 degrees or less.
• Kitchen sinks — Kitchen sinks and drains are another source of germs. Use a sanitizing solution or a commercial cleanser at least 3 times a week.
Susan Woody has been a home and garden writer for over 20 years and is a Master Gardener.