It's a real challenge to keep a clean kitchen, and yet it's so important. Germs are lurking virtually everywhere in this busy room.
In fact, the top 5 germiest places in the home are in the kitchen: in sponges and dishcloths, the sink drain area, the sink faucet handle, cutting boards, and the refrigerator handle.
These nasty little interlopers stow away in your handbag or briefcase and hitchhike home on raw meats and vegetables.
Since you can't see them, how can you beat them? These 6 cleaning tips for this busy room will ensure you stop nasty interlopers in their tracks - and get the kitchen sparkling clean in the process.
Not only are sponges and dishcloths great breeding grounds for germs, but when you use them to wipe up countertops and other surfaces, they are perfect germ spreaders.
Your first line of defense: Disinfect your sponges and dishcloths daily as part of your scheduled cleaning.
You can simply wash them in the clothes water (in a separate load from undies, please!), run them through the dishwasher on the top shelf, or microwave them for a few seconds to kill germs.
Or, simply plan to replace kitchen and sink sponges at least weekly.
The kitchen sink gets as much daily action as sponges and dishcloths, so you'll want to be diligent with daily cleaning and disinfecting here, too.
You can actually disinfect your sink, sponges, and dishcloths all at once. Here's how:
This sanitizes the sponges and disinfects the sink and drain area, all in one easy step. Wipe down the faucet handle daily as part of your home cleaning routine with a disposable disinfecting wipe, or spray it with a combination cleaner/disinfectant, and then rinse clean.
The cutting board should be disinfected after use, and between uses if you move from cutting up chicken to dicing vegetables using the same board.
Whether made of wood or of plastic, germs and bacteria from food naturally cling to the surface.
For cutting boards and other porous surfaces, mix 3 tablespoons of liquid bleach with 1 gallon of water. Apply to the surface. Keep the surface wet for two minutes.
Thoroughly rinse the cleaning solution from the cutting board, then wipe it dry with a cloth.
While your plastic cutting board can safely be disinfected in the dishwasher, wood cutting boards will warp if exposed to water for extended periods of time.
This hotspot for hungry hands and their inevitable germs collects and retains bacteria faster than you can say: "What's for dinner?"
For fridge handles and other hard, non-porous surfaces, mix 1 tablespoon of liquid bleach with 1 gallon of water. Apply to the surface. Keep the surface wet for two minutes. Allow to air dry. Do not rinse.
From toast to cereal and beyond! These crumby culprits and all sorts of other drips, smudges, and dirt on countertops are ubiquitous in any household where Buzz Lightyear and SpongeBob fans reside.
Here's a simple solution to the Hansel and Gretel syndrome:
Park a travel-size pack of baby wipes counterside. This does double duty: It serves as a reminder for kids to clean up, plus it provide a quick and easy way to do now.
Now, post-meal surface wipe-downs are a snap, even if you can't reach the sink for a sponge. Floor and counter crumbs stick to the wipe's damp surface, and the wipe is tossed after use, making it easy enough for your 2-year-old to master.
Each week, do a more thorough countertop cleaning. Take everything off of your counters and wipe them down with a nonabrasive, disinfectant cleaner. Let the counters dry, and then put everything back.
Wipe up any spills in your refrigerator immediately to keep bacteria from growing.
Wash first with warm, soapy water, then disinfect with a solution of 1 teaspoon of bleach in 1 quart of water. Each week, do a more thorough cleaning and toss out old and expired foods.
Check expiration dates of foods and condiments you keep, rotating so that the oldest of any item (milk, for example) is front and center when little hands are searching.
Every few weeks, do a major cleaning. Remove all food from inside the refrigerator, and clean away crumbs.
Clean the interior shelves and door gaskets with a solution of 4 teaspoons baking soda in 1 quart of water.
With a soft, clean cloth, wash all interior surfaces with the baking soda solution, including the top, bottom, drawers, and walls.
Pay special attention to corners and crevices. Then, rinse all surfaces with a clean sponge dampened with warm water. Dry with a soft, clean cloth.