We would guess that most people try to take care of their homes, keeping them as clean as possible. We would also guess that prior to the current virus crisis, all of us were less diligent about cleaning. If nothing else, the current environment has made us all much more aware of eliminating germs and anything that could bring sickness into our homes.
The kitchen is an important room in this battle. It’s a room that every person in the house uses multiple times a day, and all that traffic can make the kitchen a prime location for germs to grow. Let’s examine some areas of the kitchen where there is a good chance you can step up your cleaning game to ensure the health and safety of your loved ones.
Drawers and Cabinets
Some of your cabinets and drawers are used most frequently, and you see them accumulate build-up, and try to wipe them down. That’s good, but you may need to take it up a notch. Periodically, empty the drawers to clean the inside and examine the contents. (Try doing this one drawer at a time so you don’t overwhelm yourself.) Things that haven’t been used in many months could be donated to charitable organizations. With the cabinets, we usually don’t think about the tops. Those areas need to be cleaned as well. It might be a scary mess the first time you clean up there, but after a good first cleaning, it will be easier to handle in the future.
Knobs and Handles
We covered cabinet knobs and handles. Now let’s go to the handles and knobs on the oven. These can be cleaned in a number of ways. You can remove the knobs and put them through a dishwasher cycle, soak them in the sink in a cleaning solution, or spot-clean them with a Q-tip.
While we’re here at the oven, we need to look at the filters underneath the range hood and built-in microwave. This is an area that can easily be overlooked. They should be cleaned once a month so that the exhaust fan works properly. See this step-by-step guide to get started. If this hasn’t been done in a long time, you’ll need to be very aggressive this first time.
Here’s an appliance that can bring more sickness to the home that almost any other. The company NSF International did a Household Germ Study in Michigan in 2013. They sampled 20 kitchens. Two of the germiest places were the refrigerators’ meat and vegetable compartments. As you might expect, expired food is a primary culprit.
Begin by unplugging and emptying the fridge. Throw away expired food and old containers. Use a multipurpose spray to clean the entire interior. Soak the drawers in warm water and scrub them clean with dish soap. Deeper stains may require baking soda and some extra elbow effort.
Going forward, check the fridge regularly to ensure food doesn’t stay in there too long. Also, keep in mind that there are foods you should never keep in a fridge.
The coffee machine is both a germ haven and one of the easiest appliances to clean. One study found that a coffee maker reservoir had more germs than some bathroom surfaces. Fortunately, white vinegar is the only thing you need to restore order to the coffee maker. Clean it with the white vinegar every month.
Let’s stroll on over to the microwave. The inside of the microwave is a no-brainer – it’s very easy to see when a thorough cleaning is in order. But let’s consider the outside. You may be able to tell while the microwave is in use that you need to clean the outside of the door in addition to the inside. Also, consider how many zillions of times the touchpad is contacted. Fortunately, like the coffee maker, the remedy is easy and fast. A spray and wipe with window cleaner will do the job.
That should cover the structures and appliances. But there are some other things to examine while we’re conquering kitchen germs.
While the trash bag that lines the trash can does keep most messes out of the can itself, some things may slip through. Also, odors can pass through the bag and hang around. If you empty the can and notice an odor, it’s time to give the can a good cleaning. Spray the can with disinfectant, don a pair of rubber gloves, and scrub the can with a brush. Rinse the can and insert a new bag.
That sponge in your sink can be a major bacteria magnet. There are some ways to combat this. You can put a sponge in the microwave for 30 seconds. You can also put it through a dishwasher cycle. Since bacteria can build up quickly, you should give the sponge a treatment every other day. (This writer can barely remember to do this once a week. Message received, cleaning experts!)
Reusable Grocery Bags
So you got tired of filling up landfills with those awful plastic bags that every grocery store on Earth has made standard. You got some reusable bags. Good for you! Congratulations on being environmentally responsible. There’s just one problem: those bags can be a prolific bacteria farm.
What to do? Simply wash them. Check the bags you have for cleaning instructions. A lot of them can simply be thrown into the washing machine with a load of laundry. Now you can help the environment and keep germs away from your family at the same time.
Now you should be well-equipped to ensure your kitchen is a place where germs and bacteria go to die instead of growing. In the current environment, that’s a big boost. Stay safe, friends!