How Clean is Your Kitchen?

MAY 26, 2005 -- At first look, your countertops may appear clean.  But take a look under the light, and you may discover what's really there.  "Is that germs?" asks Wilmington resident Harrison Peebles.  Before his kitchen inspection, Peebles thought his kitchen was in tip-top shape.  "My wife will tell you, I'm a big stickler for making sure the counter tops, especially the table, is wiped down after every meal," says Peebles.

Overall, Peebles didn't score poorly, but an expert did have a few tips to pass along. The dish rag is a common breeding ground for bacteria.  Diane Gatewood is a Cooperative Extension Agent in Wilmington.  Gatewood says, "When you continually use [the dish rag] three or four days and leave it out, that's when the bacteria starts growing."

Another hot spot for mess is the microwave.  "If you want to get it clean, a lot of times you can put a cup of vinegar or warm water and close the door and let it run for about a minute and that'll soften it up and then you can clean your microwave, but the best thing to do is clean it after each use," says Gatewood.

Keeping cutting boards clean will cut out your chances of getting sick.  "If it has grooves in it, it is necessary to throw it away because a lot of times, the bacteria can go down in the board and you can't get it clean," says Gatewood.

Another place bacteria hides, is not in the kitchen, but on our hands.  Gatewood says, "You need to wash your hands for about 20 seconds with good warm soapy water, including getting all the crevices, particularly around the finger nails and on the top and on the inside where the crevices are."  Keeping your hands clean, keeps your kitchen and food clean, which keeps you healthy.

A few other quick tips:

  • Keep your freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit, and your refrigerator at 40 degrees or below.
  • Don't thaw your meat on the counter because that breeds bacteria, as well.
  • A good sanitation solution to use about twice a month is mix one teaspoon of chlorine bleach with one quart of warm water.

These are just a few ways to keep your kitchen clean, and your family healthy.

Reported by Darcy Douglass