Keeping your kitchen safe

Learn how to safely clean and sanitize your kitchen.

Hand cleaning a sink

Our kitchens are one of the most popular and regularly used areas of our homes. Keeping them clean and safe is a challenge. Germs can enter our kitchens through our hands, mishandling of raw food, shopping bags, purses, book bags and even our pets. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) conducted a study with people highlighting their behavior in the kitchen. Results showed handwashing was only practiced about 30% of the time in situations where there was a need to decrease the risk of cross-contamination. When it came to handwashing, only 41% scrubbed with soap for at least 20 seconds.

Here are some simple steps to help keep our kitchens clean and safe:

  • Always wash hands when handling raw meats, poultry and eggs and before, during and after preparing food.
  • Have several cutting boards to prevent cross-contamination, and wash the cutting boards with hot water and soap after each use.
  • Do not drink out of bottles or cartons and then return to the refrigerator, as bacteria from your mouth could contaminate the beverage inside the bottle or carton.
  • Clean your refrigerators and freezers often (refrigerators should be held at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below and freezers at 0 F or below) and monitor with a refrigerator/freezer thermometer.
  • Do not overload refrigerators, as this can interfere with airflow and cause warm spots, which could put the food in your refrigerator at risk.
  • Disinfect all food preparation areas after each use.
  • Avoid handling salt and pepper shakers and other spice jars after handling raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs until you have washed your hands.
  • Use hot, soapy water and paper towels or clean cloth towels to wash kitchen surfaces and wipe up spills.
  • Change your cloth kitchen towels daily.

Kitchens can be the heart of a home. Keeping them clean will help your food, family and friends stay safe and healthy. Encourage those in the kitchen to wash hands, even if they are not preparing food. Avoid preparing food or being in the kitchen if you are sick, as illness can be passed on through food and food contact surfaces.

If you have specific questions food safety questions, call the Michigan State University Extension Food Safety Hotline at 877-643-9882.

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