Kitchens are supposed to be clean, hygienic and somewhat sunny in health and disposition. Is your kitchen matching up to this lovely picture or is it, in fact, harboring hidden and deadly bacteria and germs?
The very place we cook, where we often eat and try to swirl up the healthiest food we can think of, could actually be making us ill. What are we talking about? Toxic food can be a killer sure, but many of our unhealthy habits could be turning our kitchens into teeming traps of bacteria, enough to make you ill and wonder if your kitchen is the cause.
Kitchen Dos and Don'ts
Kitchens need to be kept clean—they are where we cook for ourselves and for our loved ones. If you have unhealthy spots in your kitchen, you may find that your family falls ill more often. Give your kitchen a quick but thorough cleaning to make sure your food remains fresh and uncontaminated. And in case you want to reduce your carbon footprint, try some DIY household cleaners instead of detergents from a bottle.
1. Kitchen Sponges
The sponge you use to wipe down your countertop is perhaps the unhealthiest thing in your house with studies showing it to contain 150 times more germs than the toothbrush holder—a reason why your kitchen is making you sick. Why? While we tend to mop up everything with it, we rarely clean it.
The solution: Change it twice a month and zap it in the microwave on high for two minutes every day to disinfect it.
2. Chopping Boards
Most of us have just one or two chopping boards, which we switch between veggies and meat on a regular basis. So, so wrong. Bacteria from the meat get in cracks and thrive—moving onto the veggies. Since you don’t cook veggies on as high a temperature as meat, this is one sure way that your kitchen is making you sick.
The solution: Use strictly separate boards—one for fruits and veggies, and one for meat, eggs, etc.
3. The Refrigerator
Your fridge should never go below 40F or else the food will spoil and contaminate other things too.
The solution: Get a fridge with a digital thermostat or simply check it regularly with a digital thermometer.
4. Canned Goods
Opened containers of deli meat, beans, fish spread, and such, if left for long in the fridge can develop mold and start to affect other things in the fridge too—another reason your kitchen is making you sick.
The solution: Check expiration as well as consume by dates of everything and pin a note on the fridge to make yourself remember the same. Check an online shelf life guide for more information.
5. Storage Containers
As safe as plastic may be, there is always a risk of chemicals leaching into the food, especially if you’re a make, bake, and freeze kind of cook—another way your kitchen is making you sick.
The solution: Look for glass, ceramic, and stoneware containers to keep water and wet food safely stored.
6. Countertop Food Spills
When we cook, we often tend to leave the spills and stains for later, sometimes even forgetting to clean them till the next morning. These food spills and stains not only harden and become stubborn and resistant, but can also get into the grain of your stone or wood countertop and start to harbor bacteria. Plus, they are always an attraction for kitchen mites, flies, ants, and even roaches!
The solution: Wipe off the countertop with hot soapy water and a clean kitchen cloth after every meal so that no pests can get onto the countertop and infect you with bacteria and germs. And remember to thoroughly wash the rag afterward in hot, soapy water.
7. Unused Utensils
Obviously, with couples getting busier and families getting smaller, there may be plenty of utensils in the kitchen that lie unused. Even if they are covered and look clean, they still may harbor unseen dust or bacteria.
The solution: If and when you need to throw a party, plan in advance and put an extra load into the dishwasher before you use them off the shelf.
A bright, clean, and happy kitchen is likely to serve up some healthy and happiness-generating meals as well—so happy cooking to you!