11 Tips for a Perfectly Clean Kitchen
Once you read this post, you might forever have an immaculately clean kitchen.
Even among homemaking virtuosos, there are still some parts of the kitchen that many people never think to clean.
Are you one of them? Read through this clean kitchen checklist to find out!
Clean kitchen tip #1: How to clean your coffee maker
The warmth and moisture inside your coffee maker doesn’t only brew your favorite morning tonic. It’s also the perfect breeding ground for germs.
How do we know?
Thanks to the airline industry, researchers learned what happens when you don’t clean your coffee maker.
Rumors circulated for many years that airline staff rarely have time to clean the on-board coffee maker between flights.
Intrigued, researchers conducted a study to examine the amount of bacteria in coffee makers on airplanes.
They discovered it was true. The longer a coffee maker goes uncleaned, the more germs build up inside them.
In fact, the study found at least 37 different species of bacteria living inside coffee makers.
CBS, the television network, found similar results when they tested their office's coffee makers for bacteria.
Not all bacteria are harmful, but we leave it up to you whether to skip the coffee on future flights.
So now you know why it’s important to clean your coffee maker regularly.
Here’s how you do it:
Take your coffee maker apart, and wash all of the individual parts by hand. (If the parts are made of plastic, the heat of the dishwasher could warp them.)
Make sure you remove all the dark spots on each piece.
Then, re-assemble your coffee maker, and run a “coffee” cycle using only plain water to ensure you remove any soap residue inside.
Bonus health tip: Natural dish soap is much safer for cleaning your coffee maker than conventional dish soap.
The advantage of using natural dish soap is that you won’t have to worry about drinking any stubborn chemical residue with your next cup of morning magic.
And if you want to try a cleaning product that’s made especially for coffee makers, we found the right product.
Here’s an all-natural, biodegradable, phosphate free, and odorless coffee machine cleaner.
It’s perfect if you want to improve your coffee machine’s performance, hygiene, and your coffee’s taste.
If you drink coffee on a regular basis, then having a clean coffee maker is essential to having a clean kitchen.
Ready for more?
Clean kitchen tip #2: How to clean a cutting board
Even the tidiest of chefs can sometimes be guilty of neglecting cutting-board hygiene.
But there’s a good reason to renew your commitment to cleaning your cutting board properly.
North Carolina State University found that improper cleaning can make a cutting board a breeding ground for bacteria—but that’s not all.
Any food the cutting board touches transmits the bacteria onto your final dish, the study concluded.
That’s especially problematic when preparing raw meat.
Imagine you cut meat on a cutting board, and afterward, wash it less carefully than you should.
You then use said board to chop tomatoes for a salad. Bacteria from the raw meat will end up in your salad, possibly getting you very sick.
This matters because meat from grocery stores often contains bacteria that cause food poisoning.
These bacteria start their lives in the feces within the living animal’s gut.
After the animal is killed, during the butchering process, what was inside comes out...and contaminates the meat.
(Meatless dinner tonight, anyone?)
On top of that, many of these bacteria commonly resist treatment by antibiotics because the livestock industry so heavily overuses such drugs.
Here’s what these little bacteria look like:
Bacteria can also find their way onto your veggies if the farm fertilized their fields with manure.
However, you’re much more likely to get food poisoning from meat than from vegetables, because it’s much easier for fecal bacteria to find its way onto meat and poultry than onto vegetables.
How can you protect yourself?
For starters, you can reduce your meat and poultry consumption – or eliminate it entirely. This will dramatically reduce your exposure to dangerous bacteria in your kitchen.
If that’s not your thing, then here’s what you need to do:
To begin with, keep a separate (clean) cutting board for fruit and vegetables that you never, ever use for meat.
(We’d also recommend reserving a special cutting board for onions, garlic, and other allium vegetables to save your fresh fruit from tasting onion-y.)
Then, dry them with a clean kitchen towel to wipe away any remaining impurities.
Once you’re done cooking, here’s how to clean your cutting boards:
First, wash the cutting board with natural dish soap and rinse it with water. For your fruit & veggie boards, you’re all set! Allow it to air-dry; no further action is needed.
When washing cutting boards and other kitchen items that came into contact with raw meat, you’ll want to use a separate dish sponge that you reserve only for washing these items.
This will prevent fecal bacteria from contaminating your other dishes.
Leave the vinegar on for 15 minutes to do its magic before rinsing it off.
Congratulations – you’re one step closer to having a super clean kitchen!
Clean kitchen tip #3: How to clean kitchen countertops
Having a clean countertop is essential to having a clean kitchen.
But countertops are usually some of the dirtiest areas in your kitchen.
Here’s why: Meat, poultry, and eggs are the major sources of pathogens in your kitchen. The fecal bacteria riding along on them take advantage of you to spread out all over the place.
While you prepare a meal, your hands touch ingredients.
The fecal bacteria from meat, poultry, and eggs happily cling on to every surface you take ‘em to—including your countertop.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Short of going vegan, another way to maintain a clean kitchen countertop is to wash your hands thoroughly in between steps of meal preparation.
Then, once you’re done cooking, wipe it down with a nontoxic cleaning solution that is appropriate for your countertop’s surface. Countertops made of stone or butcherblock require special care.
For a formica, glass, or stainless steel countertop, however, first wipe it down with a wet towel and some natural dish soap to remove all crumbs, spills, and spots.
Finally, wipe it down vinegar, which will disinfect the surface almost as effectively as bleach, but without the toxicity.
(Please don’t use vinegar on stone or wood, however, because it can mar the surface.)
This method gives you the best of both worlds: a clean kitchen counter, and freedom from harmful toxins.
Clean kitchen tip #4: How to get a clean kitchen sink
Maybe you’ve heard that one of the dirtiest places in most homes is the kitchen sink.
Here’s why: As you rinse vegetables and wash your dishes, food residues go down the drain.
Some of it clings to the surfaces it touches along the way. Bacteria feed on these food residues, and grow over time.
If any of these residues happen to contain fecal bacteria, these bacteria can get you seriously sick.
That’s why it’s important to clean your kitchen sink. Here’s how to do it:
First, thoroughly rinse the sink with water to get rid of any visible food particles.
Suds up the interior surfaces of the sink to remove spots and food residue, then rinse.
Then, sprinkle some baking soda into the sink, and rub it in to scrub the surface. (Don’t worry about baking soda scratching your sink – it doesn’t.)
Rinse everything off with water, including the sponge.
Finally, pour some vinegar onto the sponge, and wipe down the interior of the sink, allowing it to air-dry.
This will not only remove most of the bacteria in your sink, but also water marks, leaving behind nothing but a sparkling-clean kitchen sink!
Here’s the science behind this advice.
Baking soda and vinegar have been proven to work remarkably well as natural disinfectants, even though they’re not as toxic to humans as chemical household cleaners.
In other words, baking soda and vinegar both do a good job cleaning your sink, while protecting your health instead of polluting your home with toxins.
(If you’re tempted to use a conventional antibacterial soap or cleaner, please read this article to learn why that’s not a good idea.)
It’s important to make cleaning the kitchen sink a regular part of your routine. Here’s why.
You know those bacteria colonies that munch on food residue, and form colonies that grow in size over time?
A study found that these colonies can grow in diameter by up to one inch per day.
That means that even if you clean your sink today, by a week from now, the bacteria colony in your sink’s drain-pipe will have expanded up out of the drain, and back into the sink itself.
At that pace, you can imagine how big the moist environment of your kitchen sink would allow that bacteria colony to get if you never cleaned your sink.
So now you know why it’s important to clean your sink regularly, and you also know how to clean it effectively.
But did you also know that some methods for hand-washing your dishes are more hygienic than others?
Many people prefer to wash their dishes by filling up the sink with water and dish soap.
But think about it: unless you’re working with a freshly-washed sink, it’s essentially a germ bath.
A more hygienic method is to begin by rinsing (or soaking) the dishes to remove the biggest food particles.
(For especially oily dishes, you may wish to squirt some dish soap directly onto the dish, rub the soap into the oil, and rinse).
Then, squeeze dish soap directly onto your dish-sponge, and use the sponge to lather up the dishes, then rinse with clean water.
Now that you know how to get a sparkling-clean kitchen sink, here’s the next tip:
Clean kitchen tip #5: Your dish sponge
Dish sponges have the highest concentration of bacteria in your kitchen.
A study found that kitchen sponges often contain up to 362 different types of bacteria, with a concentration of up to 45 billion bacteria per square millimeter.
But there are a few recommended methods that you can use to take care of the little fellows living in your dish sponge.
We wrote a whole post about this that you should check out.
If you don’t want to clean your sponge then you should replace it every two weeks.
To save on trash simply cut your sponge in half or into thirds.
Most sponges are larger than you need them to be anyway.
This will also save you a couple of bucks.
And you should use compostable dish sponges.
You can check out the reviews that this amazing eco-friendly sponge got.
Another solution is to ditch dish sponges completely.
Instead you can do your dishes with a dish brush.
The advantage of a dish brush is manifold:
1. Bacteria don’t grow in brushes as much as in sponges because there’s more air flow and they stay drier
2. You can easily soak the tip of the brush in vinegar to kill the bacteria
3. If food residue gets stuck it’s much easier to remove them from a brush than a sponge
Here’s a handy dish brush in case you’re looking for a stylish eco-friendly brush made from durable untreated beechwood with natural fiber bristles (superior quality: made in Germany – NOT China).
Go ahead and read the reviews.
This is a set of two in case you want to use the other one for your bathroom or any other area in your home
Clean kitchen tip #6: How to clean kitchen appliances
Think for a moment about how many appliances are in your kitchen.
Your coffee maker… stove… fridge...
Six? Ten? Fifteen?
Take a close look at them. If you’re like most people, chances are you’ve splattered food on them at some point while cooking.
So make it your new habit to check these appliances for dried, sticky spots.
Here’s what you do. First, moisten all dirty surfaces with a wet cloth, and let it sit for 1-2 minutes to allow the dried food-bits to soften.
Second, put some natural dish soap on the wet cloth and wipe any affected area thoroughly, scrubbing gently until all the dirty bits are gone.
Rinse the cloth until clean, and then use the clean, damp cloth to wipe off any residual soap.
Voilà: you’re one step closer to a truly clean kitchen!
Clean kitchen tip #7: How to clean kitchen cabinet knobs and handles
How many times a week do you open your fridge? What about your cabinet doors?
How many times do you use your kitchen’s light switches?
Most people touch these points of contact several times a day.
Each time, you leave behind a little bit of your skin’s natural oils—not to mention any dirt, bacteria, and food residue that might be lingering on your fingers.
All of that builds up over time. Luckily, it’s easy to take care of this.
First, use a wet cloth with some natural dish soap to wipe down these areas.
Second, apply some vinegar as a natural disinfectant, and don’t wipe it off right away.
Let it do its job for about 15 minutes.
This step is especially important if you sometimes handle raw meat, because of the fecal bacteria that it frequently contains.
We recommend vinegar over store-bought cleaning products to avoid releasing toxins into the air (and into your lungs), and to avoid absorbing chemical residues through your skin.
Ready for more? Bring it on!
Clean kitchen tip #8: How to clean your faucet
By now you’ve learned that there are plenty of bacteria on raw food, especially on raw meat and poultry.
When you are working with raw food, any dangerous bacteria on it will get on your hands.
And when you go to scrub those raw veggies clean, or to wash your hands after you’ve handled the raw chicken, what do your hands touch first?
Yup. The handle to your kitchen faucet.
The more often you touch the faucet during meal prep, the more bacteria will end up in this spot.
If you have a single-handle kitchen faucet, it’s possible to avoid this problem.
Try to make a habit of turning the faucet on and off with your wrist or the back of your hand.
If that’s not possible, it will be especially important to clean your faucet handles regularly. All you need is a wet cloth with some natural dish soap.
Then, rub it with plenty of white vinegar to disinfect and get the faucet shiny and clean.
Ready for #9? Step right this way...
Clean kitchen tip #9: How to get a clean dish rack
It’s so easy to overlook, but so important not to.
After you’ve lovingly lathered and rinsed your dishes, and they’re finally clean, it’s only fair to give them a clean spot to dry.
Don’t forget to wash your dish rack once a month with some natural dish soap, rinse, and finish with the stain-fighting power of vinegar.
Clean kitchen tip #10: How to get a clean fridge
As we’ve seen, raw food (including vegetables, but especially meat) often harbors fecal bacteria, which can get you really sick.
When you store these raw ingredients in your fridge, the bacteria can transfer to the interior surfaces of your refrigerator.
This study found up to 129,000 bacteria colony-forming units per square centimeter in the refrigerators the researchers sampled.
That’s a lot of bacteria.
So what’s the best way to get a clean fridge?
If you really want to prevent bacteria from growing in your fridge and covering your food then you can start storing your raw ingredients in washable glass containers.
This way you’re reducing the direct refrigerator surface area contact of your food.
Alternatively, you can clean your fridge on a regular basis.
Take out all of the removable shelves and drawers, and wash them in the sink with some natural dish soap.
Then, disinfect them with vinegar and let them dry before placing them back in the refrigerator.
For stubborn stains or anything sticky, apply baking soda with some water to rub it off.
Clean kitchen tip #11: Clean your trash can and compost bucket
This one gets overlooked a lot. But it’s so important to do this to prevent them from getting stinky. (Or to de-stinkify them, if it’s already gone too far).
If your compost bucket and trash can are already icky, you may want to wear rubber gloves and allow them to soak in the sink for a while.
Or, if your trash can is large and the weather is warm, you may prefer to take it outside and use the garden hose.
If that’s not an option, use a laundry basin—or as a last resort, the bathtub or shower. You’ll definitely want to scrub down your sink, bathtub, or shower afterward.
When cleaning your compost bucket and trash can, you’ll want to the same method as with other areas in your kitchen.
(i.e.: using water, moisten the hardened stuff, and get as much off with water as you can. Then, apply natural dish soap, scrub, and rinse. Next, scrub with baking soda and water. Finish with vinegar.)
Allow the receptacles to dry. All clean!
After your trash can is dry, you may wish to sprinkle it with baking soda to preventively minimize odors until the next cleaning.
But it’s important not to sprinkle baking soda in your compost.
Because compost eventually becomes soil that plants will grow in. But most plants cannot grow in salty soil.
Baking soda is, chemically speaking, a salt; it contains a lot of sodium.
So sprinkling baking soda in your compost bucket, and allowing it to mix with the compost, will harm the future soil.
Instead, the best way to fight a smelly compost bucket is with an ounce of prevention: with regular washing.
From now on you’ll have the cleanest kitchen!
Now you’re a clean kitchen pro, and have hopefully learned a new tip or two. Go forth and make that kitchen sparkle!