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Publication #FCS8 OH 2010

Cleaning and Sanitizing the Kitchen: Using Inexpensive Household Food-Safe Products1

Janet Buffer, Lydia Medeiros, Mary Schroeder, Patricia Kendall, Jeff LeJeune, and John Sofos; adapted by Amy Simonne for use in Florida with permission2

Consumers can protect themselves by preventing the spread of germs by both cleaning and sanitizing surfaces where food is prepared.

Definition of “cleaning”

Cleaning is the removal of dirt from food preparation surfaces in the kitchen. Surfaces can be counters, cutting boards, dishes, knives, utensils, pots, and pans.

Cleaning steps

  1. Wash surface with soap and warm water.

  2. Rinse with clean water.

  3. Air dry OR dry with a clean paper towel.

Definition of “sanitizing”

Sanitizing is reducing germs to a safe level so that illness is unlikely to occur. The most commonly known germs causing illnesses are Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Norovirus. Toxin-producing E. coli and Listeria monocytogenes are less common in the kitchen, but can cause very serious, if not deadly, illnesses.

Sanitizing steps:

  1. Spray surface with sanitizer of choice.

  2. Leave sanitizer on the surface for the suggested amount of time.

  3. Allow to air dry OR dry with a clean paper towel.

Effective cleaning involves both cleaning and sanitizing surfaces BEFORE and AFTER use.

Points to remember when using chlorine bleach:

  • Diluted chlorine bleach is a very effective sanitizer. The amount needed is very small and no chlorine residue will be left behind using a concentration of 1 scant teaspoon of chlorine bleach to 1 quart of water.

  • Chlorine reacts quickly and becomes inactive quickly. Detergents and dirt inactivate chlorine; surfaces must be cleaned first to ensure effective sanitation.

  • Chlorine solutions need to be made at least weekly and must be stored in a dark place.

  • Do not use chlorine with added fragrance — this is not food-safe.

Steps for using vinegar OR hydrogen peroxide to sanitize:

Both products when heated will produce an odor. This odor is not harmful to you. Test sanitizer in an unseen place to be sure hydrogen peroxide will not discolor or fade the surface.

Tip - Option 1:

  1. Heat either 4 oz (1/2 C) white distilled vinegar OR hydrogen peroxide in a sauce pan to 150°F or 66°C. (Handle CAREFULLY when heating as the liquids will be warm but not hot.)

  2. Using a funnel, pour the warm solution into a spray bottle.

  3. Immediately spray on kitchen surfaces, countertops, sink, refrigerator interior, and faucets.

  4. Let sit for 1 minute, then wipe with a clean paper towel.

Tip - Option 2 (if warming the solution is not an option):

  1. Use either 4 oz (1/2 C) white distilled vinegar OR hydrogen peroxide.

  2. Using a funnel, pour room temperature solution into a spray bottle.

  3. Spray onto kitchen surfaces, countertops, sink, refrigerator interior, and faucets.

  4. To be effective the solution MUST sit for 10 minutes, then wipe with a clean paper towel.

Warning: Never mix hydrogen peroxide and vinegar together.

How often should you sanitize?

Sanitizers kill living organisms, which is why they are so important in controlling harmful pathogens. How often should the kitchen be sanitized is best determined by your personal situation. Some questions to think about when trying to decide how often the kitchen should be sanitized are:

  1. Do you have elderly people living with you?

  2. Do you have someone in your house that is severely ill or immune-compromised?

  3. Do you have children under the age of 5 in your home?

  4. Do you have indoor or outdoor pets?

You can sanitize daily. Think about your situation and decide what is right for you.

What about “green” sanitizers?

“Green” is a commonly used term by the public or the media to convey that a product is “safe” for the environment. Over the past 10 years there has been an increase in the number of cleaning products labeled “environmentally friendly,” “ecosafe,” and “environmentally safe” as a result of consumer demand. These terms suggest that the product is not going to cause harm to the environment; however, there is no standard or regulation for when or how these statements can be used. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has started a program to help the consumer purchase environmentally safe products. Industries may submit their products to be reviewed by an EPA-approved scientific team. Each ingredient in the product is reviewed for chemicals that are the least concern for their class, e.g., low concern to humans, biodegrades easily, degraded by-products will not produce pollutants, etc.

If you would like more information about the EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE) program, please go to the website: http://www.epa.gov/oppt/dfe/. The household products suggested for use as sanitizers at the recommended dilutions are safe for home use and are safe for the environment. Vinegar and hydrogen peroxide will not be found on the DfE website, although these two products do meet the DfE criteria.

Figure 1. 

Products that meet the criteria for the EPA’s Design for the Environment program will come with this label. For more information on the program, visit the website at http://www.epa.gov/oppt/dfe/.


Credit:

U.S. EPA


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Want to know more? Check out these additional resources:

Government Food Safety Information: http://www.foodsafety.gov

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety

Food Safety Information from OSU: http://www.foodsafety.osu.edu

References

EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). 2010. Design for the Environment: An EPA Partnership Program. Accessed February 22, 2012. http://www.epa.gov/dfe/product_label_consumer.html.

FTC (Federal Trade Commission). 1999. “Sorting Out ‘Green’ Advertising Claims.” Accessed February 22, 2012. http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/general/gen02.shtm.

McGlynn, W. 2004. Guidelines for the Use of Chlorine Bleach as a Sanitizer in Food Processing Operations. FAPC-116. Stillwater: Oklahoma State University Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center. http://pods.dasnr.okstate.edu/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-963/FAPC-116web.pdf.

National Restaurant Association Solutions. 2008. 5th ed. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

EPA Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics. 1994. Chemicals in the Environment: Chlorine. CAS NO. 7782-50-5. Washington, DC: US EPA.http://www.epa.gov/chemfact/f_chlori.txt.

Yang, H., P. Kendall, L. Medeiros, and J. Sofos. 2009. “Inactivation of Listeria monocytogenes, Escherichia coli 0157:H7, and Salmonella Typhimurium with compounds available in households.” J. Food Protection 72(6):1201-8.

Tables

Table 1. 

Common household products effective as sanitizers on food preparation surfaces.1

Item

Concentration

Temperature

Contact time

Listeria monocytogenes

E. coli

Salmonella

Chlorine bleach (6%)

1 scant teaspoon to 1 quart water

Room temperature (77°F or 25°C)

1 minute

Hydrogen peroxide (3%)

Undiluted

130°F or 55°C

1 minute

Hydrogen peroxide (3%)

Undiluted

Room temperature (77°F or 25°C)

10 minutes

 

White distilled vinegar (5%)

Undiluted

130°F or 55°C

1 minute

White distilled vinegar (5%)

Undiluted

Room temperature (77°F or 25°C)

10 minutes

   

Baking soda

Not an effective sanitizer at any temperature or time, even after 10 minutes of contact time.

1A √ means that the product was effective at reducing the presence of the pathogens with more than 99.99% reduction.

Source: Yang et al. (2009).

Footnotes

1.

This document is FCS8 OH 2010, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date February 2012. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu. This document was originally published as Cleaning & Sanitizing the Kitchen: Using Inexpensive Household Food-Safe Products by Janet Buffer, Lydia Medeiros, Mary Schroeder, Patricia Kendall, Jeff LeJeune, and John Sofos of the Ohio State University Extension. It was adapted with permission by Amy Simonne for use in Florida.

2.

Janet Buffer, Lydia Medeiros, Mary Schroeder, Patricia Kendall, Jeff LeJeune, and John Sofos, Ohio State University Extension; adapted by Amy Simonne, professor, Department of Family, Youth, and Community Sciences; Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.