A lot of people think that just because they know how to cook well they can manage raw foods, maintain cleanliness and avoid germ contamination. If you really want to make sure you’re doing it all right take a closer look at your utensils, fridge and the cutting board.
Yes, cooking at home is awesome for your health and your budget too but making it a messy job that needs hours cleaning up might turn it into a health hazard. Imagine spending hours prepping the food and having to wash a mountain of dishes, pots, and pans after that. If you’re exhausted, you might just leave it all in the sink and countertops for the whole night, completely unaware of how contaminated it’s going to get overnight.
It is crucial to maintain a clean kitchen for your family because this room is the heart of your house where everyone connects and comes together. The simplest way to keep the kitchen clean is to develop a habit of cleaning up while working. If you teach your kids to be that way too, you’ll be surprised at how clean your kitchen can stay.
Do clean-up chores regularly so that things don’t pile up. Have the right cleaning tools and set a specific place for everything be it utensils, cutting boards, knives, food processors or pots and pans. This will ensure good hygiene and safety while you’re cooking. Don’t turn cooking into a chore more than it needs to be!
Here are a few tips and tricks to keep your kitchen safe and healthy.
A very simple and smart suggestion would be to start cooking with a clean slate. Declutter your countertops, wash the dishes in the sink, and wipe down spills before starting. Not only will this motivate you to keep everything clean and organized as you go but also save you a lot of time in the end. Starting with a chaotic kitchen will only make it worse after cooking and leave you depressed and too tired to clean up later.
Also, try to empty the dishwasher before you start to cook so that you can put all the dirty dishes in it right away while cooking. If the dishwasher is already full you’ll end up piling bowls and pans in the sink.
Cleaning up everything before starting to cook also lightens the mood and you actually feel like working in the kitchen. Get high quality and affordable restaurant equipment in Sharjah through UAE Ekuep.
Clean Up Along the Way
Don’t let cleaning be a separate chore. While you’re waiting for the meat to get tender or water to boil, use this free time productively instead of standing.
- Put utensils, mixing bowls and pans back in their places and start wiping the countertops.
- Keep your countertops free of clutter. As soon as you take a product out of its packaging, throw the packaging in the garbage right away. Rather than collecting all the trash in the end and struggling to find cooking space, dispose of as you go and save time in the end.
- Make a habit of washing your plates, dishes, bowls, pots, and pans soon after you’ve used them. Dirty utensils if piled up for a long time can turn into an active hotspot for bacteria and contaminate the kitchen, especially if it had raw meat.
- Another easy way to keep your kitchen safe from stains, germs, and mold is to deal with spills as soon as possible. Don’t let them sit because they’ll only get stickier and start to smell very soon. You might even accidentally get your utensils dirty on it. Wipe the spill right away before it gets harder to clean. Once it turns into dried-gunk, you’ll have to soak it and then scrape it, when it could have been dealt with just a wipe.
- While you can pick up solid spills with a spoon, liquid spills will need a lot more controlling after wiping, especially if it involved raw meat. Make sure you spray an all-purpose cleaner and a disinfecting spray on the meaty spill to sanitize the area. A liquid spill on the floor can also be slipping hazard.
If you develop these habits, you’ll be amazed at how much time you’ve saved at the end.
Use Multiple Cutting Boards
If you’ve been using the same cutting board for fruits, veggies, and meat you need to get at least one more because using the same board for meat and veggies can cause cross-contamination and spread germs.
Home Food Safety (HFS) which is a part of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics claims, “When juices from raw meats or germs from unclean objects accidentally touch cooked or ready-to-eat foods, cross-contamination occurs.”
Use multiple cutting boards and if you want, color-code them with separate flippers, ladles, and spatulas for meats and veggies to avoid cross contamination. Bacterias from raw meat and poultry can contaminate your salads which is why it’s best to separate your knives too.
Wash your cutting board after every use with just hot water and soap. If meat was involved, use a chlorine bleach solution to wipe it down and then rinse with water. Once a month make sure you maintain your cutting boards by oiling them. You can also do this for all wooden utensils like spoons and bowls. Taking care of utensils will save you time and money in the long run.
Treat the Trash
Your kitchen garbage can turn into a hub for bugs, pests, and germs. This is usually the source of bad odors and disease-causing bacteria. Make sure you take the trash out on a regular basis. Never let it stay for more than 36 hours.
Find the right size of garbage containers for your family so that it doesn’t start to overflow quickly. Overflowing items from a garbage can may turn into a tripping hazard also. When taking the trash out, tie the bags and take them out through the garage or some other outlet other than the front door.
After taking it out, always disinfect your garbage can. Wipe it with an all-purpose cleaner from the outside and inside as well. You may not realize but all that food waste can give rise to bad odors, mold, and bacteria.
Once a month do a deep cleaning of your garbage can to keep your kitchen sanitary. Wash the can with a hose outside or in your bathtub. Wipe it down with a disinfecting spray on the outside and inside. Scrape off any food waste or dirt deposits. Rinse with water and pat dry.
Free the Fridge
An overloaded fridge has terrible cold air circulation, which means that all the food in there is not getting cold enough and might even slowly harboring bacteria. Try to keep your fridge organized and discard anything that seems to have been there for a very long time. The drawers are usually the coolest part of the fridge so try to store things that go bad quicker like meats, veggies, and cheese in the drawers.
In every couple of weeks, sterilize your fridge from the outside and inside as well. Wipe down all the racks and drawers with soap and water. Rinse and dry with a paper towel or dishcloth.
Have a Safe Defrost
Your food is safe when it’s frozen but as soon as it starts to thaw and reaches a temperature more than 40 °F, bacteria that were inactive before start to grow and multiply. Never thaw meat and veggies in hot water or even at the counter at room temperature. This is because even though it may still seem to be frozen, the outer layer of the food could reach to a 140 °F where bacteria may now be multiplying, while center is still frozen.
Avoid bacterial contamination in defrosted food by practicing safe thawing methods. Leave frozen food in the fridge for overnight or 24 hours. Place it on the bottom shelf of your fridge so that juices don’t dribble on other things. You can also defrost in the microwave using the defrost setting. Another efficient way is to immerse it in cold water and change the water every half hour.
Sanitize the Sink
After every dishwashing session, sanitize your sink with a disinfecting soap and warm water. This will not only keep your sink germ-free but also smelling fresh. Kitchen sponges are also one of the most favorite places for bacteria to grow. Change your sponges often and once in a while run them through a dishwasher cycle where they can come out clean and dry.
Cleaning your garbage disposal is also very important because it can not only give out horrible odors but also hosts a lot of bacteria. Make sure you clean and disinfect it at least once a week if not every day. Use simple DIY vinegar, baking soda and hot water recipes to unclog and disinfect drains while saving up on cleaning costs.