NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Clean, Clean, Clean

Clean, Clean, Clean


          Ever feel that you are constantly cleaning some surface or appliance in your kitchen?  Our kitchens see some of the heaviest use by family members in a variety of activities and including an alphabet soup of bacteria. No wonder kitchens need extra attention when it comes to cleaning and sanitizing.

          By definition, cleaning is removing dirt from food preparation surfaces in the kitchen. Surfaces can be counters, cutting boards, dishes, knives, utensils, pots and pans.  A surface can be clean but not sanitized and sanitized is where we want kitchens to be.

          Sanitizing is the reduction of germs to a safe level so illness is unlikely to occur. The most commonly known illness causing germs that we find in kitchens are Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Nor virus. Sanitizers kill living organisms, which is why they are so important in controlling harmful pathogens.

          Sanitizing steps include:

1. Spray surface with sanitizer of choice.

2. Leave sanitizer on the surface for the suggested amount of time.

3. Allow to air dry OR dry with a clean paper towel.

          How often should the kitchen be sanitized is best determined by your personal situation. Some questions to think about when trying to decide how often the kitchen should be sanitized are:

          1. Do you have elderly people living with you?

          2. Do you have someone in your house that is severely ill or immune-compromised?

          3. Do you have children under the age of 5 in your home?

          4. Do you have indoor or outdoor pets?

          What about “GREEN” sanitizers? “Green” is a commonly used term by the public or the media to convey a product is “safe” for the environment. Over the past 10 years there has been an increase in the number of cleaning products labeled; “environmentally friendly”, “eco-safe”, and environmentally safe” as a result of consumer demand. These terms suggest that the product is not going to cause harm to the environment; however, there is no standard or regulation for when or how these statements can be used. Industries may submit their products to be reviewed by an EPA approved scientific team but are not required to do so. 

          A long used and very effective sanitizer is chlorine bleach. When using chlorine bleach, remember a little goes a long ways.  Diluted chlorine bleach is a very effective sanitizer. The amount needed is very small and no chlorine residue will be left behind using a concentration of 1 scant teaspoon of chlorine bleach to 1 quart of water.

           Chlorine reacts quickly and but also becomes inactive quickly. Chlorine solutions need to be made at least weekly and must be stored in a dark place. Detergents and dirt inactivate chlorine; surfaces must be cleaned first to ensure effective sanitation.   And do not use chlorine with added fragrance for kitchen cleaning as the added fragrance is not food-safe.


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