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How clean is your kitchen, really?

It’s a busy morning, you quickly wipe up after making chicken sandwiches and throw the cloth back into the sink.   Clean?  Maybe.  Hygenic?  Perhaps not.

The four most common causes of food poisoning are salmonella, E.coli, listeria and staphylococcus bacteria.  Keeping your food preparation surfaces (and your hands) clean is vital for the health of you, your family, and your guests over holiday season.

Luckily, ridding your kitchen of germs without resorting to chemical warfare is possible – try a few of these tips from cleaning guru Shannon Lush (Spotless, ABC books).

  • Scrubbers and dishcloths
    If you re-use these, you really should wash them daily, according to Lush.
    Popping them in the dishwasher is an easy way to do this, or since most bacteria are knocked out at high temperatures, scald them with boiling water from the kettle before wringing them out (with gloves on to protect your hands!) and drying in the sun. Another tip is to freeze your plastic and metal scourers in plastic bags overnight to kill bacteria.
  • Tea towels
    Lush is a fan of fresh tea towels every day to stop bacterial build-up in the fabric.  But if this is a bit too much for your busy family, at least have one coloured tea towel that’s specifically for wiping hands and another for dishes, to cut down on germ transfer.
  • Benchtops and splashbacks
    Make your own multi-purpose cleaners by combining one teaspoon of Bosisto’s Lavender Oil and 1 tsp of dishwashing liquid with a litre of warm water in a spray bottle.  You can also use Eucalyptus Oil (depending on your fragrance preference), as both of them are fantastic germ-killers.  Alternatively you can just use a water-soluble essential oil solution, like this.  Lush swears by old, clean pantyhose as cleaning cloths because they’re great at cutting through grease and grime (which is a great recycling use, too).
  • Chopping boards
    Lush prefers to use timber chopping boards as they are naturally antibacterial, but they need to be cleaned properly.  Scrub down with water and detergent, dry them off a little then sprinkle the cutting surface with salt and scrub firmly.  Dry in the sun, as UV light kills bugs.  Always keep one board specifically for cutting raw meat and nothing else.
  • Fridge
    Food safety experts recommend keeping food at 5 degrees or less – buy a fridge thermometer if you’re not sure because it can easily creep up in summer.  Clean the interior of your fridge regularly with white vinegar and rolled up pantyhose, and drape a tea towel over a butter knife to get into the cracks in door seals.
  • The sink
    Wipe down your sink daily with white vinegar, and clean the drain weekly.  Sprinkle two tablespoons of baking soda down the plug hole, leave for half an hour then add two tablespoons of white vinegar. Half an hour later, flush with 1 litre of boiling water. T his combination will kill bacteria and dislodge blockages.  (ps. If your sink still stinks, a capful of eucalyptus oil down the drain will help!)
  • The pantry
    After cleaning out the pantry and wiping the shelves with your essential oil of choice, place  bay leaves in the corners (and in containers of grains) as a natural deterrent for moths and weevils.
  • The floor
    Forget the toxic cleaning chemicals – eucalyptus oil is a fantastic floor cleaner and leaves a wonderful bushland aroma that lasts for ages.  Use 2-4 capfuls in your mop bucket or try the water-soluble Solution.
  • Stoves
    Bi-carb and vinegar!  Lightly dust bicarb soda over the cold stove surface and spray with undiluted white vinegar in roughly equal parts.  While it’s still fizzing rub it down with a pair of pantyhose rolled tightly in a ball.
  • Dishwashers
    For those guilty of shoving anything and everything into the dishwasher, Lush has just one piece of advice: rinse first.  While the hot water can kill bacteria, solid matter left behind can allow it to re-grow.  Eww.  Clean your filters and wipe out the interior once a week.
  • Rubbish bins
    A wonderful alternative to synthetic chemical air fresheners, try Bosisto’s Eucalyptus Spray.  It’s 100% natural eucalyptus oil and proven to kill 99.99% of those nasty bugs including E.Coli and Salmonella – plus it leaves bins fresh and your kitchen free of odours.

For 10 tips for summer food safety, click here.