Spring is here, even if the weather might not quite feel like it yet in some parts of the country. It’s a great time to get started on some spring cleaning. 

According to the CDC, every year, an estimated 1 in 6 Americans get food poisoning, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne diseases. A clean and dry kitchen helps protect you and your family from foodborne illness.

Fight BAC!: The Partnership for Food Safety Education has some tips on how to keep your clean kitchen:

It’s important to know the difference between cleaning and sanitizing. They aren’t the same thing. Both are important to help prevent the spread of harmful germs.

  • Cleaning removes germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces or objects. Cleaning works by using soap (or detergent) and water to physically remove germs from surfaces. This process does not necessarily kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.
  • Sanitizing lowers the number of germs on surfaces or objects. This process works by disinfecting surfaces or objects using a diluted liquid chlorine bleach solution (combine 1 tablespoon liquid chlorine bleach with 1 gallon of water in a clean bucket).

When You Should Clean

  • To remove dried food and spills from countertops
  • To remove food from a stove top
  • Wipe down interior refrigerator surfaces with hot water and soap

When You Should Sanitize

  • Someone sneezed all over your countertop
  • Someone sick touched your refrigerator door handle or faucet
  • Raw meat juice spilled on countertop, stove, sink, floor or in refrigerator
  • Raw meat touched a countertop, stove top, sink, utensil or cutting board or shelf in your refrigerator

Some cleaning tips you should practice year round to make your kitchen and your meals safer include:

  • Your counters may look clean, but bacteria may be hiding all over your kitchen.  Always clean surfaces thoroughly with hot water and soap. After thoroughly washing surfaces with hot water and soap, you can sanitize them with a diluted chlorine bleach solution or a disinfectant kitchen cleaner. Let the solution stand on the surface for several minutes, then rinse with cold water and air dry or pat dry with fresh paper towels. Bleach solutions can lose their effectiveness over time, so discard unused portions after one week.
  • Kitchen towels and sponges provide a moist environment for bacteria to grow.  Consider using paper towels to clean up kitchen surfaces and dry your hands. When done, throw away the towel. If you use cloth towels, wash them often in the hot cycle of your washing machine. If you use kitchen sponges, replace them frequently.
  • Rid your fridge of spills, bacteria, mold and mildew. Clean your refrigerator weekly to kill germs that could contaminate foods. To tackle bacteria, mold and mildew, clean interior refrigerator surfaces with hot water and soap. Rinse with a damp cloth; dry with a clean cloth. Manufacturers recommend against using chlorine bleach, solvent cleaning solutions, or abrasives as they can damage seals, gaskets and linings.
  • Food particles get trapped in the drain and disposal, creating the perfect environment for bacterial growth.  Clean your kitchen sink, drain and disposal once or twice a week with warm water and soap.  Disinfect your drain and disposal by pouring in a solution of 3/4 teaspoon chlorine bleach per quart of water.
  • Microwaves often get overlooked in day-to-day cleaning, but you can get your microwave clean with just a few steps.  Heat a microwave-safe bowl filled with water on high for approximately 4 minutes. Remove bowl and use hot water and dish soap to wipe down the microwave interior.  Dry with a fresh paper towel.

For other food safety information from Fight BAC! click here.

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