Spring cleaning your kitchen

Don’t forget to focus some of your spring cleaning efforts in the kitchen to help ensure the safety of the food in your home.

Someone wiping a kitchen cabinet.
Photo: Pexels/Liliana Drew.

The job of spring cleaning your home is not an easy task. As you move through your home cleaning, be sure to allow significant time for spring cleaning in the kitchen. Bacteria like Salmonella and Listeria, as well as other pathogens, can be present in many areas in your kitchen. In order to ensure those bacteria aren’t given the chance to multiply and cause foodborne illness, proper cleaning steps must be taken.

Michigan State University Extension recommends you use the following tips to decrease the presence of germs in your kitchens:

  • Understand the difference between cleaning and sanitizing. Cleaning removes visible dirt or debris from a surface. Sanitizing reduces the number of pathogens on a surface to safe levels when using a properly mixed sanitizing solution like bleach and water. To sanitize, you can use a simple mixture of one teaspoon bleach to one gallon of water.
  • Clean the refrigerator. Make it a habit to clean up spills immediately with hot, soapy water. For thorough cleaning, start by removing all food products and completely clean all of the shelves and drawers with hot, soapy water. Don’t forget to clean the outer surface of the refrigerator as well.
  • Check for expiration dates in the refrigerator. Discard items passed their use by date. Examine other food items that are being stored in the fridge and discard if the item is no longer safe to eat.
  • Clean and sanitize all surfaces, countertops and cutting boards. These areas that come into direct contact with food need to be washed with hot soapy, water and then sanitized.
  • Kitchen sinks and towels also need to be cleaned and sanitized on a regular basis. Use the sanitizing solution listed above once a week in your sink drains to help kills germs. Wash kitchen towels often in hot water or they could hold bacteria and spread germs around your kitchen. Use paper towels in the kitchen since they are single use and disposable.
  • Rotate the items in your cupboard and/or pantry storage. Make it a habit to use the products with older expiration dates in your storage area first, and then use the more recent products. Before reloading your shelves with food products, clean the shelves with hot, soapy water. Don’t forget areas like kitchen drawer and cupboard handles as well.

Spring cleaning is a tedious job but seeing the results when you are done and realizing you have taken great steps to ensure the safety of your food in the kitchen, makes it all worth it. For more information on food safety, visit MSU Extension's Safe Food & Water website.

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