Consumer Product Testing and Certification FAQs

From dishwashers to cutting boards and measuring cups, NSF International’s consumer products testing and certification program helps give consumers peace of mind as experts test the quality, cleanability and durability of many home products.

The program covers kitchen products such as food storage containers, cookware and bakeware as well as small appliances like coffee makers, slow cookers and blenders. The program also includes kitchen gadgets and utensils, flatware and cutlery, personal beverage containers, corded home textiles (heated blankets, pads and mattress pads), fans, space heaters and many other products.

Where are the germ “hot spots” in the home?

While most people would consider the bathroom to be the germiest place in the home, a 2011 NSF International germ study found the highest concentration of germs in the kitchen. The kitchen sponge, kitchen sink and coffee maker reservoir were all found to contain bacteria or yeast and mold. Read more about this study, including what other items in a typical home were found to contain germs and how to keep them clean.

What is NSF’s home products certification program?

After an independent research study revealed that more than half of American consumers are concerned about the safety and quality of cookware and other products used in their homes, NSF created its home products certification (HPC) program. Developed in 2012, this program is based on, but separate from, NSF’s commercial food equipment certification, which has been ensuring safer design and cleaning of appliances and tools used in commercial kitchens since the 1950s.

Designed to help give consumers peace of mind as to the quality, durability and cleanability of many home products, the HPC program covers food storage containers, cookware and bakeware as well as small appliances like coffee makers, slow cookers and blenders. The program also includes kitchen gadgets and utensils, flatware and cutlery, personal beverage containers, corded home textiles (heated blankets, pads and mattress pads), fans, space heaters and many other products. Visit the Home Product and Appliances section of NSF’s website to learn more about this program as well as to access a current list of NSF certified products for the home.

How does NSF certify dishwashers?

Next to handwashing, proper cleaning and sanitizing of kitchen work surfaces and tools used for handling and preparing food is probably the most important way to protect against foodborne illness at home. Dishes and cookware used to prepare and serve food need to be effectively cleaned and sanitized between each use.

One of the ways to effectively clean and sanitize dishes is to use a dishwasher certified to NSF/ANSI 184: Residential Dishwashers. This standard helps confirm that a residential dishwasher can achieve a minimum 99.999% or 5-log reduction of bacteria when operated on the sanitizing cycle. In addition to confirming the unit’s ability to sanitize dishes and cookware, NSF/ANSI 184 also establishes minimum design and performance requirements related to cleaning effectiveness. NSF uses over 100 pounds of cherry pie filling to test the cleaning effectiveness of residential dishwashers each year!

Do NSF certified clothes washers have to heat water to a certain temperature to sanitize clothing?

The NSF P172 protocol sets guidelines for measuring the antimicrobial efficacy of washing machines by determining whether the sanitary wash cycle is effective at removing 99.9% of bacteria from heavily contaminated cloth swatches in typical laundry loads. The protocol does not set guidelines for evaluating the water or steam temperature, but rather the ability of the sanitization cycle to perform effectively. The sanitization cycle of a washer is dependent on the combination of many variables (drum size, drum shape, heater wattage if applicable, cycle time, cycle temperature, tumbling action, etc.). These variables can change from model to model and manufacturer to manufacturer, and no required combination is required as long as they sanitize effectively. A list of clothes washers that are NSF certified can be found in NSF’s listings.

How does NSF evaluate coffee makers for home use?

When evaluating residential coffee makers for home use, NSF confirms that each unit meets the strict criteria set forth in NSF P387: Coffee Makers for Home Use. This protocol establishes product design, construction, materials and cleanability requirements. In addition, NSF also checks labeling and packaging information and validates any marketing claims being made for the product. As with other home products, cleanability is an important part of the certification process, especially as NSF discovered in its 2011 germ study that coffee maker reservoirs that are not regularly cleaned can build up yeast and mold. A list of coffee makers that are currently NSF certified can be found in NSF’s consumer products listings.