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Tips That Will Help Keep Your Kitchen Germ-Free

Tips That Will Help Keep Your Kitchen Germ-Free



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Take your spring cleaning to the next level with these tips

To help you keep up with the clean, we enlisted the support of Laurie Brown, a green cleaning expert and chief sales officer of Earthstone International, a purveyor of household cleaning and sanding productrs, to give you some great and useful tips. Learn how to dispel germs by following this advice.

Kitchen Cleaning Tips

To help you keep up with the clean, we enlisted the support of Laurie Brown, a green cleaning expert and chief sales officer of Earthstone International, a purveyor of household cleaning and sanding productrs, to give you some great and useful tips. Learn how to dispel germs by following this advice.

Change Your Cutting Board

“Use hard plastic cutting sheets instead of wood cutting boards to more easily remove germs after each use. Just wash with dish soap and rinse with water. Super easy and effective.”

Clean Your Sink

Keep sinks clean! Use Magic Eraser or microfiber products to clean around the sink drain and garbage disposal as a way to more effectively remove food scum and germ-laden residue. Ninety-nine point nine percent of bacteria can be removed by agitation, and super absorbent fibers and materials do a superior job — without the chemicals.”

Don’t Do Unnecessary ‘Cleaning’

Do not rinse chicken or other meat before cooking. It just spreads germs, and it doesn't make it more delicious.”

Get Behind Your Fridge

“Regularly clean refrigerator coils and make sure to set your refrigerator between 37 degrees F (3 C) and 40 degrees F (5 degrees C) to ensure healthy food.”

Keep Compost Outside

“Place old vegetables in compost pail designed with a lid and set outside to store between uses. Better to compost than throw rotting fruits and vegetables in the garbage or disposal, where they create indoor compost in your kitchen. And it’s good food for your garden, too.”

Line Your Drawers

iStock/Thinkstock

“Keep parchment paper at bottom of produce drawers, making occasional clean-up quick and easy and avoiding lettuce and carrots that are so ‘alive with bacteria’ they are ready to march out of the fridge.”

Swap Out Your Scrubbies

iStock/Thinkstock

“Toss scrubbers that are clogged with food residue and grease. Steel wool and nylon scrubbies are a major source of bacteria, which can clog the scrubber's surface, making it difficult, if not impossible, to really get

clean.”

Use Your Dishwasher for More Than Dishes

iStock/Thinkstock

“Put drain and garbage disposal covers in the dishwasher occasionally to clean and remove germs.”

Wash Your Washcloths

“Wash dish rags and sponges at least once or twice weekly. A little bleach in your dishrags will keep them looking good AND help disinfect, and you can wash your sponges in the dishwasher or place in the microwave (wet) for two minutes on high. Make sure there is no metal in the product.”


8 Tips to Get Rid of Gnats in the Kitchen

Gnats are annoying. They come from seemingly nowhere and clutter your kitchen, buzzing around your fruit and bread while they multiply exponentially. So, how to get rid of gnats in the kitchen? It’s easier than you think.

From bleach to dish soap, vinegar traps to insect fogging, there are oodles of handy ways to eradicate the scourge of gnats infecting your precious kitchen. But not only do you need to wipe the suckers out, you need to stop them from getting inside the kitchen in the first place. We’re going to teach you how to stop the gnats at their source.


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Germs in the Kitchen

The kitchen harbors more germs than any other room in the home. Here are 10 tips to protect your family.

While bathrooms get a bad rap when it comes to germs, it's the kitchen that actually harbors more bacteria than any other room in the home.

And these germs -- the same ones that can cause a cold or flu to spread through a household like wildfire - lurk everywhere from the sponges you use to clean your countertop to your cutting board and the drain in your sink.

Still not concerned? Consider this: One single bacteria cell can become more than 8 million cells in less than 24 hours! The number of bacteria it takes to make people sick can range from as few as 10 up to millions. And infections spread when germs are transferred from a contaminated item (say, your cutting board) to your hands to your body.

But a little hygiene can help keep your kitchen bug-free this cold and flu season. Here are 10 ways to get started:

Zap away bugs.
Kitchen sponges are the No. 1 source of germs in the whole house. Why? The moist, micro-crevices that make a sponge such an effective cleaning device also make it a cozy home for germs and more difficult to disinfect. Wiping your counters or dishes with a dirty sponge will only transfer the bacteria from one item to another. "Wet your sponge and then pop it in the microwave for two minutes to eliminate the germs that lurk inside the crevices," says Neil Schachter, MD, medical director of respiratory care at Mount Sinai in New York City, and the author of The Good Doctor's Guide to Colds and Flu.

Practice good dishrag etiquette.
Your dish rags are really no better than your sponges. And like sponges, using a dirty dish rag to clean a kitchen countertop will only spread germs. Your best bet is to replace rags about once a week. "Allow them to dry out between uses because most bacteria thrive only in moistness," Schachter says. In fact, they can only survive a few hours on dry surfaces. "Rags should be washed in the washing machine and then dried on high heat," he says.

Continued

Wipe away germs.
Faucet handles, refrigerator door handles, and doorknobs are next on the list of kitchen culprits that aid and abet germs. Use disinfectant spray or wipes on sink faucets, refrigerator handles, stove handles, cupboard handles, trashcans, doorknobs, and any other area that you touch with your hands. "These sprays or wipes kill germs on contact," explains Schachter. "This is really important and should be done several times a day before and after touching these objects," he says. "Don't forget to wipe down the telephone," adds Charles Gerba, PhD, a professor of microbiology at University of Arizona in Tucson. "A lot of times, someone is cooking and has a question for the original chef, so he or she calls their parents to find out how to make it and the bacteria gets slopped on the phone and it grows."

Clean the cutting board.
Cracks and crevices in your cutting board provide plenty of space for bacteria to grow. "The average cutting board has about 200% more fecal bacteria than the average toilet seat," Gerba says. "People don't disinfect cutting boards," he says, and they should. "Don't cut up chicken and then salad on the same cutting board without disinfecting it," he stresses. Better yet, "use separate boards for raw meat and making salads." Plus, he says it's important to clean and disinfect inside the fridge, microwave, cupboards and other surfaces that come into frequent contact with food.

Continued

Dust out the drain.
The drains in both your kitchen sink and bathtub provide yet another moist hideaway for bacteria. "To kill these bugs where they live use baking soda and an old toothbrush to get rid of stains, grit, and grime around drains," Schachter says. "Disinfect drains regularly as you would any other surface."

Put away your glassware.
Flu season spans from November through March, while cold season runs from about September until March or April. "To assure that no one drinks from the same glass, use paper cups during cold and flu season," Schachter says. And try using color coded paper cups: Assign each member of the household a different color.

Continued

Wash your hands before meals and snacks.
It really works. "In the kitchen the No. 1 time to wash your hands and make sure your kids do, too, is before you eat anything," Schachter says. "Use soap and water and a little elbow grease," he says. "Anti-bacterial soap is a good idea for extra protection. People who wash hands seven times a day have about 40% fewer colds than the average person," he says.

Continued

Don't share hand towels.
After you wash your hands, dry them with a paper towel -- not a communal hand towel that can be a safe haven for germs, Schachter says.

Eat an apple a day to keep the doctor away.
While there is not a direct correlation between nutrients and immunity, "children who eat poorly and don't take in enough calories have weaker immune systems and are more likely to pick up a cold or flu," Schachter says. Make sure your refrigerator is stocked with healthy fruits, vegetables, and snacks year-round.

Have it well-done.
Cooking food thoroughly and evenly will reduce the number of germs. Generally, the higher the temperature reached, the more germs are killed. "Also, wash salads, fruits, and vegetables thoroughly in clean water to remove all traces of soil, insects, or pesticides," Schachter says. Eat cooked food immediately. Or cool and refrigerate it within one hour. And never reheat food more than once, he says. It's also a good idea to keep your refrigerator at or below 37°F. This will help slow down the growth of germs in your chilled food. Keep freezers at or below 0°F.

Sources

SOURCES: Neil Schachter, MD, medical director of respiratory care, Mount Sinai, New York City and the author of The Good Doctor's Guide to Colds and Flu. Charles Gerba, PhD, a professor of microbiology at University of Arizona, Tucson.


Step 2: Reduce Kitchen Germs at the Store

Before you get ready to whip up something tasty, try these tips to help keep bacteria at bay while you shop:

  • Meat: Wrap It Up: Put any meat you buy into a plastic bag before putting it in your cart. This keeps raw meat juices from dripping on the fresh foods in your grocery cart.
  • Juice: Don't buy a bloated juice bottle. Bloating is usually a sign that at some point the juice hasn't been kept at the proper temperature and it's now spoiled.
  • Produce: Some produce can become contaminated with salmonella, shigella, or E. coli during growing, harvesting, processing, storing, or shipping. It's particularly important that you wash your spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts, and melons before handling or cutting them.
  • Canned Foods: You don't know where those cans have been, so wash the tops with hot soapy water before you open them. If you don't, whatever particles or bacteria linger on the lid will inevitably end up in the food as the lid dips down into the can contents during opening.
  • Perishables: If you have perishable groceries and you will be in the car more than an hour, take a cooler along with some reusable ice blocks to keep the cold food cold until you can get it into the refrigerator or freezer.

5 Tips for a Germ-Free Kitchen

Wash Your Work Surface. Studies have shown that granite counter tops in particular are especially hospitable to bacteria. Use soap and hot water to swab down counter tops and faucets often, especially if you are handling raw fish, poultry, or meat. If you use paper towels, throw them away immediately dish cloths and towels should go in the laundry basket.

Clean Your
Cutting Boards. Wash chopping boards and blocks with hot water and soap and let them air dry. If you're extra concerned about bacteria, forget plastic and use wooden boards instead-- studies show that food-borne bacteria have a harder time surviving on wood.

Zap Your Sponges. Clean them often--otherwise, a sponge is a bacteria barge. Microwaving sponges for a full minute or washing them in the dishwasher (include the drying cycle) will help keep them clean.

Organize Your
Fridge. Keep meat and seafood in a separate area, away from the vegetable crisper or the cheese drawer.

Make Your Own Cleaning Products. Brands such as Mrs. Meyers, Ecover, and JR Watkins are green, gentle, and smell good, but homemade cleaning solutions--using baking soda, distilled white vinegar, and lemon juice--are even cheaper and usually just as effective. Find recipes for non-toxic cleaning solutions on National Geographic's Green Guide.


Here're 10 Tips to Keep Your Kitchen Clean

1. Use a Garbage Bowl and a Large Container

It is important to note that the kitchen should be free of trash. You couldn’t even work in a messy kitchen, could you? With all the peelings on the floor, sauce splatter all around, crumbs all over the counter, how will you react? In order to avoid dropping trash as you walk from the counter to the garbage bin, you can actually use a small bowl where you can put the trash and transfer it to the larger container after working.

The trash bin should also be large enough to accommodate all the waste from your kitchen. This will avoid overflowing. It is also important to separate biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste materials. The trash bin should be emptied every day.

2. Empty the Countertops and Maintain Cleanliness

Since you are using a bowl as your mini trash bin, you should always leave it whenever you start cooking. You just have to bring it out when you are preparing food.

The counter should be cleared and properly cleaned after preparation. Do not congest your countertops with kitchen utensils it’s not actually a good sight to see.

3. Get Your Kitchen Utensils in Order

You should properly keep the tools in order so you can easily find things when you need it. Mark each cabinet and drawer where you store things. Separate eating utensils from cooking utensils and kitchen cleaners – knives, cookware, buckets, etc.

When you are slicing fruits or vegetables, you can place your chopping board over a mat so it could easily catch the slices. This will prevent from falling off the chopping board to the floor. For reusable measuring spoons, you can lock them in a cup.

4. Keep Your Cookware and Knives From Rusts and Stains

Once a month, you need to have a maintenance check on your kitchen utensils. Your knife may have rusted or it may need to be honed. The cookware could have burnt-on stains or rust spots. As long as you can still do something about it, try it out and see what it will become.

Do not also forget to put some oil on your cutting boards at least once a month, especially those made out of wood. Wooden cutting board and kitchen utensils should also be maintained.

5. Clean Stain Spots And Pick Up Trash On The Floor Immediately

Fluid gets dry quickly if left uncleaned. As much as possible, you should always wipe stains and drips. Because once you have forgotten, they leave great marks and strange odor. Also, always pick up anything that falls on the floor.

6. Make It A Habit To Clean As You Go

Do not leave your kitchen unclean and disheveled. Clean and dry the countertops before you leave and make sure the stoves are secured. The dishwasher should be emptied so that when you return to the kitchen, you will not be disgusted and distressed.

7. Empty The Sink And The Dishwasher

Before you start cooking, make sure that the sink is empty. This will enable you to work carefree. After using the kitchen utensils, do not let them sit in the kitchen sink or the dishwasher.

After washing the dishes, you should also clean the sink as well as the dishwasher. Remove the greases off them with soapy water.

8. Wipe Counters Dry And Spotless

You can fill a bottle with soapy water so it could be easier for you to clean. You just have to squirt the liquid solution and wipe it down. Before you leave, you should clean the counters and let it dry.

Also clean your countertops regularly so you won’t have difficulty scrubbing the stains off the next day.

9. Cook Carefully And Observe Good Cooking Habits

Whenever you prepare or cook, you should be gentle and subtle of your movements. Do not rush because you might get everything out of order. One minute, you will just see your kitchen drenching it sauce or flour. After cooking, cleaning should also come next.

10. Learn and Apply Some Cleaning Secrets

With this, it will actually make cleaning your kitchen easier and hassle-free. This is just a simple task to do. Here are the cleaning secrets that you need to know:

  • Rinse the pitcher of the blender immediately after emptying it. After you clean, fill with water and drop a little amount of dish soap. Put it back in the blender and blend it for 20 seconds. Afterward, rinse it and let it dry.
  • When cleaning your microwave, place a handful of wet paper towels inside and set it on a high level for 3 to 5 minutes. Once the paper towel cooled down, wipe the interior of the microwave. You can leave a lemon juice with water in the microwave for about 5 to 10 minutes. This will deodorize the appliance.
  • Prepare some ice, salt, and lemon mixture and fill it in the glass jug of a coffee pot. Swirl it for 2 minutes and rinse with water.
  • Use salt when cleaning a cast-iron cookware. Rub the interior with a few tablespoons of salt and a paper towel. Afterward, rinse it and dab cooking oil on the surface to maintain the coating.
  • Run a small handful of uncooked rice through the coffee grinder. You should avoid using your coffee grinder to grind spices.
  • Use a clean pastry brush to remove remnants of cheese in a cheese grater.
  • Mix half vinegar with half water and freeze it. Once frozen, grind into ice cubes and use it to deep clean and deodorize the garbage bin.
  • Scrub the coffee stains in china cups with vinegar and salt. This will remove the stain.

Roll, crimp, then chill that pastry.

Shutterstock

Do chill your dough before baking to allow the gluten to relax and the fat to firm up again after you've worked with it. Don't struggle with rolling out rock-hard pie dough. Instead, mix the dough, roll it out (using trick #10), then place it in your pie pan before refrigerating for at least 30 minutes. Fill, bake, and enjoy your low-fuss dessert.


Homemade Peppermint All-Purpose Antibacterial Cleaning Spray

This Homemade Peppermint All-Purpose Antibacterial Cleaning Spray is a must have during cold and flu season! It's easy to make and will help keep your home clean and germ free!

It's that time of the year, and I'm not talking about Christmas! It's cold and flu season. This year, we are super busy with Cam in college and Kate's crazy school activities, so there is no time for sickness. To keep as many germs and bacteria at bay, I'm using my Homemade Peppermint Antibacterial Spray on most of my home's surfaces such as counter tops, door knobs, drawer pulls, tables. you name it, I'm spraying it with this! Peppermint contains natural antibacterial fighting properties, and makes this homemade cleaner smell amazing too!

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase via one of these links, I will receive a small commission.

What you will need:

  • 1 ½ Cups distilled water
  • 1 Tablespoon of Castile Soap ( Purchase HERE )
  • 10-15 Drops of Peppermint Essential Oil ( Purchase HERE )
  • Spray Bottle ( Purchase HERE )
  • Candy Cane Striped Labels ( Print HERE )

Start by adding 1 1 /2 cups of distilled water to a clean spray bottle. I use distilled water in my homemade cleaners so they will have a longer shelf life. Using a funnel will help keep splatters and spills to a minimum.

Next, add 1 Tablespoon of Castile soap. Castile soap is an organic, vegetable based soap and I use it in tons of my cleaning recipes.

Finally, add 10-15 drops of Peppermint Essential Oil. I tend to veer more towards 15 drops because I love the peppermint smell.

Shake well before each use. Because we aren't using any chemicals in this cleaner, the ingredients may separate after sitting.

Add one of my Free Printable Candy Cane Striped Labels and use to clean just about everything in your home. I'm not sure if I would use it on granite, just because I haven't tried that. You can find my Homemade Granite Spray HERE. As I mentioned above, the peppermint essential oil has wonderful, natural antibacterial properties. It's also so great for congestion. When I have a stuffy nose, I just add a couple of drops of peppermint oil into my hands, rub them together, cup them over my nose and inhale a couple of times. It clears my sinuses like nobody's business! Just don't get it in your eyes. that's not a great feeling at all!

You can grab the printable labels HERE if you want to make your own. The photo above isn't the correct size for printing. These would be especially nice to give to your family and friends or even teachers if you want to make some extras!

Read on for some more amazing ideas using Peppermint Essential Oils.

This Peppermint Foaming Hand Soap is soooo amazing. It will leave your hands clean and smelling like candy canes! It's made using the same ingredients as the Peppermint Cleaning Spray but works totally different in the foaming hand soap dispensers! You can even print and use the Peppermint Hand Soap labels too!

My Homemade Peppermint Sugar Scrub is one of the most popular recipes on my blog. It's been pinned over 100,000 times and is so easy to make. It's the perfect gift to give to anyone, any time of the year! The labels are free to print out and use too!

Have some of those EOS Lip Balm containers lying around? You can easily Make Your own Peppermint EOS Refills! Seriously, they are soooo easy to make!


Zucchini Gratin

Don’t throw away excess zucchini. Instead, make Cinda Chavich’s Zucchini Gratin from her “The Waste Not, Want Not Cookbook.” (Photo: DL Acken)

Servings: 4.

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 3 pounds small zucchini, sliced
  • 6 ripe Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup fresh or dried bread crumbs

Optional toppings:

In a saute pan over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the onion and cook for about 10 minutes, until soft and beginning to brown. Reduce heat to low, cover the pan, and sweat for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and sprinkle the onion with the sugar. Continue to cook, stirring, until the onion is nicely caramelized. Set aside.

Drizzle 1 teaspoon of the olive oil into a shallow gratin dish, and arrange a third of the zucchini in the dish, overlapping in concentric circles. Top with half of the caramelized onion. Add half of the tomatoes, a third of the minced garlic, a little thyme and salt and pepper, and about ¼ cup of the bread crumbs.

Repeat the layers. Add a final layer of zucchini, season with the remaining garlic and thyme and a little salt and pepper, and top with ½ cup of the bread crumbs and the remaining 1⅔ tablespoons of olive oil.

Bake for 1 hour. Drain any excess liquid, top with cheese, if using, and bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, until bubbling and browned.

From Cinda Chavich’s “The Waste Not, Want Not Cookbook”


3. Fridge

It is inevitable that the one place we store our food is the one place where we have the biggest hidden germs. Cold air, condensation, and food spills are the perfect recipe for unforeseen germs. Even a simple wipe down won&apost keep them at bay instead, use a solution of hot water and vinegar to wipe down your fridge weekly, paying special attention to drawers where meat and produce are kept. Or for an extra layer of defense, use shelf liners in your drawers, and run those through the dishwasher weekly for a spotless and germ-free fridge.