It may surprise many to learn that there are more germs hiding in your kitchen than in your bathroom. In fact, the kitchen is a haven for bacteria.  From the countertops to the sink to the coffeepot, kitchens are chock full of the same type of bacteria that can spread colds and flu throughout a family. However, a few simple cleaning techniques can help to keep your kitchen free of disease. Here are three handy tips.

Cutting Boards – With regular use, cutting boards get a lot of cracks and crevices which provide a protected area for bacteria to grow and thrive if not properly cleaned.  Therefore, thoroughly clean cutting boards with bleach or other types of disinfectant, or throw them into the dishwasher, if possible, after each use.
Also, utilize a separate cutting board for meat, poultry and fish and one for fruits, vegetables, and other food items to avoid cross-contamination.  Another option is to cut fruits or vegetables first on one side and flip the board over to cut meat, poultry or fish.

Coffee Pot – To protect the health of coffee drinkers in the family, clean the coffee pot, filter basket, and reusable filter if you have one, with soap and water after each use.  Also, on a weekly basis, run a 50/50 mixture of water and vinegar through the coffee pot to further kill germs.  Added Bonus:  a clean coffee maker brews better-tasting coffee!

Kitchen Sponges –
These are the leading source of bacteria in most homes.  Cleaning dishes or wiping counters with a dirty sponge merely spreads bacteria from one place to another. Purchase regular, cellulose sponges, and hold under very hot water for one full minute before washing dishes to avoid spreading bacteria.  Another easy way to disinfect sponges is to microwave them for 30 seconds if dry, and 60 seconds if wet.

Here are a few more handy ideas:

  • If you use dish rags, allow them to thoroughly dry between uses.  Bacteria can survive for only a few hours on a dry surface.  Wash rags every few days in the washing machine, and dry on high heat.
  • Use sanitizing wipes or sprays to regularly clean surfaces that are touched often, like handles on the faucet, refrigerator, and stove.  Also clean doorknobs, cupboard pulls, light switches and the telephone, if you have one.
  • Use the same wipes, sprays or a sprinkling of baking soda to clean drains and drain traps on a weekly basis.
  • Wash hands often, especially before and during preparation of meals and snacks.  It has been found that those who wash hands seven or more times per day reduce chances for getting a cold by 40 percent.  Also, during cold and flu season, use paper towels in lieu of cloth towels.

It is important to keep your kitchen clean and germ-free.  Remember, people can become ill from as few as ten bacteria. These bacteria can be spread throughout your kitchen with the wipe of a single cloth.  Also, in the course of 24 hours one, lone bacterium can grow to millions. Take advantage of the tips above to keep your kitchen clean and disease-free.