Ensuring safe and healthful meals requires a clean and organized kitchen. The best method of kitchen care is a cleaning and preparation schedule.
During each Cooking Session
Gather and measure ingredients before cooking and clean continuously while cooking. A cleaner kitchen, a lesser chance of cross-contamination and an even smaller chance of missing or doubling an ingredient are well worth the forethought.
Wash vegetables with vinegar spray* to kill bacteria and use bleach spray** on surfaces and utensils that come in contact with raw meats.
Plan baking, roasting or broiling in order to cook the messiest dish last, especially when using convection. A chicken will most likely have some over-spray of fat, so cooking it last allows less time for the grease to bake on. After each use, wipe down the oven, stove and backsplash using vinegar spray* or diluted dishwashing detergent.
Wash, dry and put away everything after each meal, or load the dishwasher and use the rinse and hold cycle.
Sweep or vacuum the floor after each cooking session and wipe off countertops using the vinegar spray*. Spray the sink and drain areas with the bleach spray**, let stand for a few minutes and rinse to discourage bacterial growth. Dry off the counters and sink with a quick wipe using paper or cloth towels.
Cleaning out the refrigerator and pantry the day before shopping is helpful with making lists and with organization. Check expiration dates and discard expired items. Ideally, make a list of items on hand and plan menus around those. Wipe refrigerator shelves using vinegar spray.
At least once a week, use a damp mop or towel to clean the floor, rinsing the mop often. Use cleaners appropriate for the type of flooring. Avoid using sponge mops; they don’t do a good job of removing grime and they grow bacteria quickly. Any mop should be disinfected in a solution of chlorine bleach following manufacturer’s instructions. Allow the mop to dry thoroughly before putting it away, preferably outdoors in the sun.
Give the stove and hood a thorough cleaning at least once a month using a degreaser. A toothbrush dipped in degreaser is a good tool for getting into cracks and corners. Check the filters over the stove’s hood. Either put them in the dishwasher or soak them in very hot water with strong detergent and rinse thoroughly. Heavy grease build up on the filters becomes a potential fire hazard. Clean the surfaces of the blower thoroughly with degreaser and hot water.
Wash and disinfect the garbage can using bleach spray**. Again, follow manufacturer’s instructions for disinfecting that surface. Always use liner bags and discard often.
Check non-stick cookware for cracks or peeling finishes and discard any that show wear because the flakes may infiltrate the food. Oiling wooden cutting boards and utensils monthly, using food-safe mineral oil, helps to preserve and keep them sanitary.
Inspect wooden and plastic utensils and bowls for cracks and cuts, which may pose the danger of contamination. Discard and replace any utensil that shows signs of excessive wear.
Remove everything from drawers and cabinets, vacuum and wash interiors. Re-arrange the contents, as needed, for maximum efficiency.
Donate pots, pans, gadgets and any items in the kitchen that aren’t used or useful. Even an expensive pot or appliance is clutter if it is never used.
Regular cleaning and organizing is the key to a clean, safe and work-friendly kitchen.
*vinegar spray: Mix a solution of 50% white vinegar and 50% water in a spray bottle. Be sure to clearly label the spray bottle.
**bleach spray: Mix a solution of chlorine bleach suitable for disinfection, according to manufacturer’s instructions for each item. Not all chlorine bleach acts as a disinfectant. Read the label to make sure that it does. Be sure to clearly label the spray bottle.