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Kitchen Cleaning 101: Your Ultimate Guide to Optimum Kitchen Cleaning

Cleaning up? Do you know which areas and appliances are the germiest in your kitchen? Our NSF experts share tips for keeping your kitchen running smoothly and safely.

Cleaning our kitchens is a top priority. But did you know which products in your kitchen are the germiest? And do you follow the right directions for cleaning them?

Our NSF scientists studied whether consumers are following manufacturer instructions for cleaning appliances and other kitchen products. The data may surprise you, as may which kitchen products are the germiest. NSF’s microbiology team analyzed several kitchen appliances and tools for the presence of foodborne pathogens. Scary germs found? Salmonella and listeria as well as yeast and mold. The solution: thorough cleaning.

To give you a head start, here’s our experts’ hit list of the top germ collectors in your kitchen:

  1. Fridge veggie drawer
  2. Fridge meat compartment
  3. Blender gasket
  4. Can opener
  5. Rubber spatula
  6. Rubber-sealed food containers
  7. Fridge water dispenser
  8. Fridge ice dispenser

And here are tips for how to give some TLC to your kitchen appliances and gadgets:

Fridge Refresh

To clean refrigerator and vegetable compartments: Remove the drawer from the refrigerator. Use a clean sponge or soft cloth and wash the bin with mild detergent mixed with warm water. Rinse with tap water and wipe dry with a clean towel. To get rid of smelly stuff, use warm water mixed with a solution (about 1-2 tablespoons of baking soda to one quart of water). Rinse and wipe dry. To avoid cross-contamination of foods, separate veggies from poultry, meat and seafood. It’s best to clean both the veggie compartment and the meat area monthly.

Inspector Gadget

Unplug the blender and gasket at the bottom. Remove the blade. If it’s dishwasher safe, place all pieces in the dishwasher after each use. If hand-washing, wash the gasket, blade assembly, jar and lid thoroughly in hot, soapy water, then rinse and dry before reassembling. Perform this cleaning procedure after each use.

Tooling It

To effectively clean your can opener, put it in the dishwasher after each use (if dishwasher safe). If hand-washing, wash the can opener in hot, soapy water, rinsing thoroughly with clean tap water before air-drying after each use. Pay special attention to the area around the cutting blades to be sure all food residue is removed.

Create Clean

Did you know your rubber spatula is a germ magnet? To clean two-piece spatulas, separate the handle from the spatula portion and, if dishwasher safe, place both sections in the dishwasher after each use. If hand-washing, wash in hot, soapy water, rinsing thoroughly with clean water. For one-piece spatulas, if dishwasher safe, place them in the dishwasher after each use. Otherwise, hand-wash thoroughly in hot, soapy water, paying special attention to the area where the handle joins the spatula. Rinse thoroughly and dry.

Contain the Germs

Food storage containers are the eighth-germiest place in the kitchen; they’re magnets for salmonella, yeast and mold. If dishwasher safe, place both the container and the lid in the dishwasher and wash after each use. If hand-washing, wash both the container and the lid in hot, soapy water, paying special attention to the area around the seal as well as any grooves where the cover attaches to the container. Rinse thoroughly and allow to air-dry.

Frosty Refresh

Check your refrigerator manual for cleaning instructions. Many companies recommend using a solution of vinegar and water to clean the dispenser and ice maker. First, turn off the water supply to the refrigerator, and then loosen the screw connecting the water supply line to the refrigerator. Once it’s disconnected, use a small funnel to pour 3-4 cups of distilled white vinegar into the tube. Wait 5-10 minutes and reconnect the water line. Turn the dispenser on to allow the vinegar solution to flow through the dispenser’s system and spill out through the waterspout. To clean the waterspout, use a bottle or baby bottle nipple brush dipped in distilled white vinegar. Brush the inner side of the spout, then open the waterspout and allow it to run to clear off any dirt and excess vinegar solution. Close the lever when there are no traces of vinegar. Clean the waterspout weekly and the refrigerator water dispenser system once or twice a year.

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