Reducing Germs In The Kitchen
Whether or not you’re a home chef in the making, it’s likely you spend a fair amount of time in your kitchen. As a result, you might think that you’ve got your kitchen organization and cleaning down pat. Naturally, you already know that cutting boards, kitchen countertops and dish sponges are germ factories. But there are other areas that might surprise you.
Take a look at where the most germs are found in your food prep and cooking spaces, based on the findings of the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF).
1. Vegetable CrisperFruits and veggies may be good for you, but the crisper drawers of the refrigerator are one of the top places you’ll find bacteria in the kitchen. That’s right; your produce bins can house Salmonella and Listeria. In addition to those germs, they can also harbor yeast and mold.
Reduce germs in the kitchen: Take the time to clean out your refrigerator and wash the bins in warm soapy water. In addition, wipe down crisper drawer handles with a clean microfiber cloth once a day.
2. Meat Compartment and Deli BinIt’s no secret that raw meat can introduce bacteria to your kitchen, but that doesn’t stop most people from storing it in their fridges. Those lunch meats need a place to live, too. Like your crisper, meat drawers can be lined with Salmonella, yeast and mold. Another baddie that can thrive in these compartments is the infamous E. coli.
Reduce germs in the kitchen: Clean your meat and deli drawers, just as you would the vegetable bins using the instructions above. Another way to help prevent the spread of illness is to learn to properly organize your refrigerator, so that you can reduce cross-contamination concerns.
3. Blender Gaskets and Can OpenersDo you ever skip taking your blender apart to clean because you think, “There’s no way any food, much less germs could make it down there; it’s screwed together so tight”? Guess again. The same goes for can openers that get tossed directly into drawers after use. In fact, these kitchen items can be breeding grounds for Salmonella, E. coli, yeast and mold.
Reduce germs in the kitchen: Take apart your blender after making that post-run protein shake, so that every last bit of the appliance can be cleaned in hot soapy water. The same goes for your can opener, minus the disassembly, of course. Both of these items can also be cleaned in the dishwasher, unless the manufacturer’s instructions state otherwise. Just make sure all blender components or can openers are 100% dry before reassembling or stowing them away.
4. Rubber SpatulasThese basic yet magical kitchen items certainly make life a lot simpler. But rubber spatulas can also introduce some unwelcome microorganism guests to your cooking parties. Unfortunately, your favorite rubber spatula could be teeming with E. coli, yeast and mold. And those probably aren’t three of the ingredients in your grandmother’s pound cake recipe.
Reduce germs in the kitchen: Take two-piece spatulas apart before cleaning them. If they’re dishwasher safe, then that’s your best course of action. However, wooden-handled spatulas should be washed by hand. Regardless of where the cleaning is done, make sure you thoroughly dry your spatulas before returning them to utensil canisters or drawers.
5. Food Storage Containers With Rubber SealsGlass or plastic storage containers that keep food locked in with rubber seals are a worthy investment for any home cook. Something scary can lurk underneath those air-tight seals, though. Several tiny somethings, actually, including Salmonella, yeast and mold. And you thought your coworkers were the only ones getting into your leftovers in the office fridge.
Reduce germs in the kitchen: Wash rubber-sealed food storage in hot soapy water or in the dishwasher (after checking the manufacturer’s care instructions, of course). When washing by hand, take extra time to clean the area around the seal. You may be unpleasantly surprised by what you find.
There’s no way you’ll ever be able to get rid of all the yeast, mold and bacteria in the kitchen. Microorganisms are just a part of life, but by knowing the areas where the most germs are found and cleaning appropriately, you may be able help prevent the spread of illness in your home.