The kitchen is known as the heart of the home – but it can also be a popular place for germs and bacteria to be found. Knowing how to properly clean and disinfect the different parts of your kitchen can help stop it from becoming a hotbed for germs.
- What is kitchen hygiene?
- Germ hotspots in the kitchen
- How to clean your kitchen
- Cutlery, dishes and cooking utensils
- Kitchen cloths and sponges
- Keeping kitchen floors clean
- General kitchen hygiene rules
What is kitchen hygiene?
Kitchen hygiene refers to ways of preventing the spread of germs, or cross-contamination, in the kitchen. Ensuring that hand and food contact surfaces in the kitchen are regularly cleaned and disinfected is essential for reducing the risk of cross-contamination.
Germ hotspots in the kitchen
One of the main sources of germs in the kitchen is raw food, like uncooked chicken. Unsurprisingly, the number of germs in the kitchen is especially high just after food preparation. When we are preparing food, bacteria can very easily transfer to and survive on other foods and kitchen surfaces. Cutting boards, benchtops, stovetops, eating and cooking utensils, refrigerators and tap handles can all be contaminated by bacteria. Even your phone can be a source of cross-contamination, if you regularly use it to check a recipe while you cook!
However, the highest risk of cross-contamination actually comes from your kitchen cleaning tools, like dish cloths, dish sponges, washing up brushes and scouring pads. When these are left in damp conditions, they can multiply rapidly and spread to other objects or surfaces.
For these germ hotspots, regular and rigorous disinfection is important to help stop bacteria from spreading and keeping your kitchen hygienic.
How to clean your kitchen
There are three methods you can use to achieve a hygienic kitchen:
- Cleaning – simply wiping or scrubbing using detergent and water removes germs, however this is only really effective if you are also able to rinse the surface with clean water afterwards
- Heat – hot water in particular is effective for removing germs
- Disinfectants – these germ-killing chemicals can help to provide an extra layer of germ protection
Usually, a combination of these methods is recommended. To help ensure proper cleaning and disinfection, we’ve provided a breakdown of how to best clean specific areas of your kitchen below:
Benchtops and kitchen surfaces
As large food preparation surfaces, your kitchen benchtops should be cleaned and disinfected both before and immediately after handling food, particularly raw meat and poultry. Since these surfaces can’t be rinsed, they should first be cleaned using a detergent to remove any organic matter, then disinfected with an antibacterial product like Dettol Healthy Clean Kitchen Spray to help effectively kill germs. The surface should then be rapidly dried afterwards. This same cleaning method applies to other hand and food contact surfaces in the kitchen, like taps and drawer handles.
Similar to your benchtops, your fridge and freezer should be cleaned with detergent as well as disinfected with an antibacterial product. Try Dettol Surface Cleanser with Fresh Lime & Mint, which has a non-bleach formula that’s great for food surfaces. Remember to also disinfect and clean the fridge handle and door seals, and don’t forget to also dry your fridge afterwards. Before cleaning any kitchen appliances, it’s a good idea to check the manufacturer’s manual for their advice on cleaning before you start.
Microwave and stovetop
Like other kitchen surfaces that can’t be rinsed, you can clean your microwave and stovetop by using a detergent first before followed by an antibacterial product – though you should check the manufacturer’s manual for their advice first.
It’s best to check the manufacturer’s manual on the best method to clean your oven.
Rubbish bins inside the house should be kept clean and washed out regularly to stop germs from breeding and discourage pests. Using a bin liner not only helps make it easier to take out the rubbish but also stops the bin from getting too dirty. Wash your bin after it’s been emptied and before putting a new liner in. Then, simply disinfect with one of Dettol’s antibacterial surface sprays or wipes.
Compared to other spots in your kitchen, the risk of infection from your sink is relatively low, however regular disinfection is still important to prevent the build-up of bacteria. Physical removal of germs is important here, so start by cleaning with a brush and detergent. Follow this up by disinfecting with Dettol Healthy Clean Multipurpose Spray, which powers through both grease and soap scum.
Cutlery, dishes and cooking utensils
Keeping your kitchen utensils, equipment and dishes hygienically clean is important to prevent them from becoming a source of bacteria that could contaminate your food. The most effective way to clean these items is through the use of detergent and hot water, followed by rinsing with clean water.
Because chopping boards get damaged through use, they are able to harbour dirt and moisture that can encourage bacterial growth. It is therefore recommended that on top of scrubbing and cleaning, chopping boards also be disinfected (for example, with an antibacterial detergent) or run through a dishwasher cycle that’s at least 60°C. You should also replace your chopping boards regularly and use separate chopping boards for raw meat or fish and for fresh fruit & vegetables.
Kitchen cloths and sponges
Kitchen cloths and sponges play an important role in keeping your kitchen clean and hygienic. However, they are also prime for harbouring germs and spreading them from one surface to the next. Implementing a strict cleaning and disinfecting routine for your cleaning cloths and sponges is one of the most important things you can do to prevent the spread of germs at home.
Whenever possible, it’s recommended to use disposable cleaning cloths like Dettol Disinfectant Wipes, which have 100% biodegradable fibres and can simply be thrown in the bin once used. If you are using reusable cloths, soap and water is not enough to kill germs. After rinsing your cloth or sponge with detergent and hot water, do one of the following to ensure a hygienic clean:
- Immerse in boiling water for 2 minutes
- Run in the dishwasher cycle at 60°C
- Run in the washing machine at 60°C, ideally with a disinfectant like Dettol Antibacterial Laundry Sanitiser
- Microwave for 1 minute at full power
To prevent any regrowth of residual germs, dry your items thoroughly straight away and try to store them dry as well. When cloths or sponges are continuously stored in a damp condition, it becomes harder to remove germs so it may be best to just throw them away.
When should I disinfect my sponges and cloths?
At a minimum, you should be disinfecting them at least once a day. Disinfect them immediately after any contact with raw food and after any cleaning activities. You should also ensure they are hygienically clean before using them to clean, especially food preparation areas.
Cleaning your kitchen floor
It’s important to clean the kitchen floor regularly to prevent the build-up of dirt, dust and germs, especially if any food accidentally drops or spills. Sweeping or vacuuming, then washing with water and detergent is recommended.
Just like your kitchen cloths and sponges, make sure to properly disinfect your mop if you use it to clean your floor. Alternatively, you can try the Dettol Healthy Clean Floor Cleaning Wipes which are both antibacterial and disposable, making them more hygienic.
General kitchen hygiene rules
A hygienic kitchen isn’t just about keeping the kitchen itself clean and disinfected – good personal hygiene in the kitchen needs to go hand in hand with food safety, to make sure your kitchen is as healthy as can be. Follow these simple rules to keep your kitchen a happy and hygienic zone:
- Always wash your hands before handling food, immediately after handling raw food and before eating. Your hands are one of the most important causes of cross-contamination so don’t skip this step!
- Don’t feed pets in the kitchen or allow then to come into contact with food preparation surface; avoid cleaning pet cages or tanks in the kitchen sink
- Ensure your bin has a tight-fitting lid
- Keep cooked food well away from raw food, or items that have been in contact with raw food
- Avoid placing raw meat or poultry directly on kitchen surfaces or into the refrigerator
- Ensure food is properly cooked and stored – read more about good kitchen safety and hygiene here.