The kitchen is the workhorse of the home.
It’s where people gather and mingle, where food is prepared and eaten, and messes are made. Kitchens are inundated with grime and germs, and eradicating them is of the utmost importance in keeping your family healthy.
We will take a look at 11 ways to disinfect your kitchen and keep it free of harmful viruses.
“Clean”, “disinfect” and “sanitize” are all terms that get thrown around these days but they each have a distinct meaning that is worth defining for the sake of this article.
Cleaning refers to removing visible grime and the germs that go along with it.
Disinfecting means to intentionally rid something of bacteria.
Oxford considers sanitize to be a synonym of disinfect, but here it will refer to making something pure and ridding it completely of unwanted microbials.
Down and Dirty
Most people know the basics of cleaning the kitchen but disinfecting and sanitizing are a different story. How can you tell for sure that your kitchen isn’t harboring invisible pathogens that put your health at risk even if it appears clean? Fortunately the answer isn’t as complicated as you may think.
The following are some great ways to clean, disinfect or even sanitize your kitchen:
1. Soap and Water
This duo should always be your first line of defense against germs and dirt.
Hot water is best to use because the heat potentiates the ability of the water and soap to harm the protein membrane around microbes.
Even COVID-19 can easily be inactivated and removed from human hands using soap and water. The soap attacks the protein layer of the virus and the act of scrubbing works to manually brush the virus off of the surface of the skin. This exact same process works on other surfaces, making soap and water crucial to disinfecting your kitchen.
Don’t overlook the importance of using hot, soapy water to soak kitchen items as well. The hot water can quickly dissolve dirt and old food and the soap suds will help to kill the germs they harbor.
The use of steam in a kitchen can be extremely effective, and if you have a dishwasher, this phenomenon is already at work.
Think of steam as a super efficient way to distribute heat. The moisture penetrates the germs and the heat kills them. Boiling kitchen utensils and other items that are heat-safe is a good way to effectively sterilize them. Once the item has been in a boiling pot for five minutes, let it dry completely before using it. Use steam to clean the microwave simply by placing a bowl of water in the microwave, (I use a Pyrex bowl which can withstand a lot of heat), and microwaving on high for several minutes.
As the water boils the microwave becomes covered in steam and easily wiped down. It’s a good idea to wear rubber gloves when removing the bowl of boiling water.
4. Dry Heat
Your kitchen oven can also be recruited to help sterilize non flammable utensils. The FDA recommends a temperature of 320 F to kill harmful viruses and bacteria, and popping items into a hot oven for at least five minutes means little hassle.
5. Rubbing Alcohol
Isopropanol Alcohol is approved by the EPA as a disinfecting agent, but be sure to use the 70% strength, instead of 90% which will evaporate too quickly on contact to kill bacteria and viruses. Unlike Isopropanlo, ethyl alcohol (used to make liquor) is not recommended for use in cleaning, so keep the vodka for a cocktail.
Bleach is one of the more popular sanitizing agents available, and is extremely effective in killing even viruses like COVID-19 when used correctly. Take care to dilute bleach so that it doesn't harm your skin or the respiratory tract when inhaled. A one-third cup of bleach per one gallon of cool water is the safest way to use bleach because hot water will cause more toxic fumes than cold.
NOTE: Do NOT mix chemicals when cleaning. Using more than one chemical in the same area even hours later can result in dangerous compounds being released into your home. Bleach and isopropyl alcohol mixed together make chloroform and bleach and ammonia can produce Hydrazine which causes a slew of health problems if inhaled.
7. Disinfectant Wipe
Although wiping down surfaces with vinegar won’t kill viruses, doing so with a disinfecting wipe will knock out 99.9% of them and is not only effective, but easy. If using Clorox brand wipes be sure to leave the surface moist for four minutes, and if Lysol 10 minutes.
This will allow the solution ample time to kill bacteria and viruses such as COVID-19. These sorts of disinfecting wipes are a popular mode of maintaining a kitchen that is virus free because of their convenience, which also makes them difficult to come by in many places.
If you do see them in your local grocery store it’s worth stocking up.
8. Lysol and Aerosol Spray
Companies like Lysol also make aerosol spray which can be another good way to disinfect surfaces in your kitchen. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for the brand you choose to insure the product effectively kills viruses and bacteria.
In the case of Lysol, the can should be held no more than eight inches away from the surface you are spraying. Press the button for three seconds to be sure to saturate the area and then let it remain wet for at least three minutes before touching it.
One surface that can easily be forgotten when cleaning a kitchen is the floor. Most often mopping focuses on removing dirt but if you want to be sure that your floor is disinfected, consider using a specially formulated cleaner like Clorox Scentiva mopping cloths.
These cloths are designed especially for use on floors made of everything from wood, quartz and tile, and kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria. They easily attach to a mop such as the Swiffer making them convenient as well as effective.
10. Envirocleanse (good for COVID-19)
Strong chemicals are often used to kill viruses, but in the case of EnviroKlenz, only non toxic, organic ingredients are used to kill a long list of viruses including COVID-19, according to the EPA.
EnviroKlenz is an excellent choice for disinfecting a kitchen because of its non toxic chemical makeup and it’s low price point.
This solution is even safe around pets and won’t irritate hands. Although it doesn’t kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria it can be counted on to eliminate a large number of pathogens and a complete list of it’s cleansing capabilities can be found on the EnviroKlenz website.
11. Disinfecting Towels, Rags, and Sponges
Lastly, don’t forget to disinfect those hand towels and rags in the kitchen as well as replacing sponges at least once a week. We recommend replacing tea/dish towels and rags at least once a day and any time they contact a known source of bacteria like raw meat or fall on the floor.
Launder them in hot water and dry on high heat. Keeping dish towels separate from rags used to wipe down countertops will help reduce the risk of cross contaminating them with germs from kitchen surfaces.
A clean kitchen not only goes a long way in keeping you healthy and safe from viruses, but ensures that the workhorse of your home works harder. Employing the list of techniques and products here will help you clean smarter and more efficiently while enjoying peace of mind that your hard work is paying off to disinfect your kitchen and keep it virus free.