10 Kitchen Hot Spots You Really Need to Disinfect
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Don't Dine with Germs
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All the Handles
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Kitchen Sink and Faucet
A wet sink can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Wipe the sink, faucet and sprayer down regularly with a disinfectant wipe. Give the drain a thorough cleaning weekly by flushing it with hydrogen peroxide or a disinfecting cleaning solvent.
The sink sprayer also needs an annual deep cleaning: Soak the sprayer for 30 minutes in a microwave-safe glass bowl filled with vinegar and water that's been heated up in the microwave, then gently brush the nozzle clean with a toothbrush to loosen mineral deposits and grime. For retractable sprayers, clean the hose by disconnecting it from under the kitchen sink and soaking it in a large bowl or kitchen sink filled with a solution of vinegar and water.
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Sponges and Kitchen Towels
A study by the Hygiene Council revealed that 25 percent of kitchen sponges and towels that appeared clean actually contained a high level of bacteria. In fact, it's likely that your sponge contains more germs than your toilet seat. Disinfect sponges weekly (especially after you use them to wipe down a counter that's touched raw meat) by submerging them in a microwave-safe bowl of water, microwaving them on high heat for 1 to 2 minutes, then letting them air dry. Never heat a dry sponge in the microwave; it could burn.
For kitchen towels, designate one towel for the sole use of drying clean dishes and set aside another rag for wiping down surfaces; toss both in the laundry weekly.
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Kitchen Rugs and Mats
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The workhorse of the kitchen also might be the culprit behind foodborne illnesses. Raw meat obviously offers a reason to be wary, but even fruits and vegetables carry pathogens that can be transferred to cutting boards and, thus, other surfaces. Be sure to rinse and wash the boards between uses, and regularly flood the surface with hydrogen peroxide for a more thorough disinfecting.
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The insides of kitchen cabinets are often forgotten when it comes time to clean. "People tend not to take things out when the space is occupied because it's a lot of work, so the kitchen cabinets tend to take a hit," points out Castro. "We find lots of food, dust and old papers, so it's important to thoroughly vacuum this area occasionally, then wipe it down with a mild surface cleaner." Castro suggests using microfiber cloths, which hold more water and help with wiping up and drying without being abrasive.
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Inside the Microwave
Sure, it's easy enough to wipe down the exterior of the microwave until it shines, but don't forget the interior, which is plagued by general buildup along with any unfortunate food explosions. "We sanitize the microwave with good old-fashioned elbow grease," says Castro, who uses a combination of 10 percent borax and 90 percent water to break down tough food stains. "Wear rubber gloves and saturate any buildup with the borax solution, then let it sit to break things down before wiping it away."
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