More Kitchen Hot Spots continued...
Refrigerator. Refrigeration doesn't kill bacteria -- it just slows their growth. The more you open and close the refrigerator door, the greater your chance of bringing in mold. Every so often, wash down all surfaces of your fridge -- including racks and drawers -- with a vinegar solution. Wash the refrigerator door handle frequently.
Floor. Kitchen floors can be subject to dropped food, dripped juices from raw meats, tracked-in dirt, crawling kids, and pets, among other things. Using the same bleach solution that you use to clean cutting boards provides good sanitization, but be sure to rinse thoroughly and let air dry if kids and pets will be on the floor. You may want to ask people to take off their shoes when they come in the door, especially if they're going to be in the kitchen. If they've been worn for at least three months, "90% of shoes have e-coli on them," Duberg tells WebMD.
Dishwasher. Do you see a black fungus on the seal around your dishwasher door or inside your dishwasher? It may be Exophiala dermatitidis, a fungus that likes high heat and is resistant to most detergents. Scrub it away with a paste of vinegar and baking soda. While you're in the dishwasher, pour a couple of cups of vinegar in the bottom and run a cycle to kill other tough germs.
Garbage disposal. Garbage disposals are convenient, but they're also kitchen germ hazards, says Tierno, who removed the disposal from his kitchen drain. Any food that remains can decay and breed germs. At least once a week, use a brush and the bleach solution to scrub as far down as you can into the disposal.
Trash can. Make sure to keep a lid on your trash can. Not only will it keep smells from spreading, it can also keep insects from landing in bacteria and spreading them throughout the rest of your house. It's not enough to just replace the trash bag. Once a week, pour the bleach solution into the can -- especially if there's a smell, stain, or substance inside. Let the liquid sit for a few minutes and then pour it down your sink. Rinse the trash can and let it air dry.
Handles. When you move around the kitchen, opening cabinets, the refrigerator, or the pantry door to grab ingredients as you cook, you can spread germs among the handles. Wipe cabinet and refrigerator-door handles at least once a week with the bleach solution to kill microorganisms.
Don't get overwhelmed by kitchen cleaning. When tackling kitchen germs, Duberg says, first clean the areas that look dirty. Get rid of mold in the refrigerator and dust on the countertops, for example. Then sanitize and disinfect.
"The rule of thumb is: If it smells clean and it looks clean, you're probably doing enough," Duberg says. "You don't have to go crazy."