Spring Cleaning for a Safer Kitchen

By Beth Scholer, CC, CDM, CFPP

It’s a great time to remind caregivers to include the kitchen in their spring cleaning plans.  Follow these simple tips to target harmful bacteria and other pests, prevent waste from spoiled food and keep the kitchen spic and span.

Kitchen Cleaning Tips

Here are some tips that should be followed year around for a cleaner kitchen and safer meals.

  • Wash, with hot soapy water, and rinse all utensils and surfaces after each use (knives, cutting boards and counter tops).
     
  • Make sure dishes are completely dry before putting away.  Mold and mildew thrive in warm, damp environments.
     
  • Clean up any spills immediately, this is a sure way to cut down on cross contamination. 
     
  • Don’t forget the sink, drain and garbage disposal.  Clean weekly with a disinfecting kitchen cleaner or bleach solution and rinse.  Be sure to clean the faucet and handles, too.
     
  • Regularly clean and sanitize the trash can with a disinfecting cleaner like diluted bleach.
     
  • Wash dish clothes and towels often using the hot water cycle and detergent with bleach.  Dry completely in a dryer.

Super Sanitizer

Diluted chlorine bleach makes an efficient and inexpensive sanitizer.  Mix 1 tablespoon of bleach with 1 gallon of water to use on hard surfaces like countertops and cutting boards.  Let the bleach solution contact the surface for several minutes, rinse with clean water and wipe with a clean paper towel. 

Dilute 1 tablespoon of chlorine bleach with 1 gallon of water for a super sanitizer

Don’t Forget the Fridge

Cold temperatures in the refrigerator or freezer slow down the growth of harmful bacteria, but don't stop it completely.  It is a good practice to clean out the refrigerator weekly.  Remove any food past prime and quickly clean up any drips or spills to prevent cross contaminiation into other foods. Hot, soapy water is the best, as some kitchen cleaners can damage seals or gaskets.

Take a Peek at the Pantry

Box mixes, cereal and dry foods can last for weeks or months in the pantry, but regularly sorting is a must.  Check best-by dates on cans, boxes and baking ingredients.  Practice FIFO, first in, first out; stock newer products behind older ones and pull from the front.  Make sure all packages are tightly closed and stored off the floor to prevent pest infestation. 

Make these cleaning tips part of your kitchen routine to prevent spoilage and reduce the chance of an elder becoming ill from food.

 

Chef Beth Scholer, CC, CDM, CFPP is a food scientist, culinary instructor, author and founder of Caregivers Kitchen.  She is passionate about empowering caregivers to make positive nutritional changes and mealtime meaningful for those in their care.  She can be reached at chefbeth@caregiverskitchen.net.

 

Sources:

Scholer, B. (2015) Culinary Skills for Caregivers. Lakewood, CA.  Avid Readers Publishing Group.

U.S.D.A. Food Safety Inspection Service.  Cleanliness Helps Prevent Foodborne Illness. Fact Sheets:
                Safe Food Handling.  22 March 2011.  Web. 12 June 2013.
                http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/bd93c271-2cfc-4fbe-93c9
               28d6070fa7bb/Cleanliness_Helps_Prevent_Foodborne_Illness.pdf?MOD=AJPERES