How To Beat The Bacteria In Your Kitchen

Within homes, the kitchen is often the most “used” room in the house. It’s a meeting place for meals, for conversation, and for family. Unfortunately, that makes it a meeting place for bacteria, as well.

Along with bathrooms, kitchens are the most bacteria-heavy rooms in a home. Kitchens require a good, daily cleaning. This 4-minute interview on NBC’s The Today Show shows you how to do it.

Using ordinary household cleansers and some elbow grease, you’ll learn :

  1. Why sponges should be out of your kitchen and why loofahs should be in
  2. How to catch and trap fruit flies that spread germs and disease
  3. How to clean and disinfect porous cutting boards

You’ll also get tips on removing stubborn stains from the bottom side of a frying pan.

The video is loaded with good advice and is worth a watch if only to learn a single sanitizing tip.

For example, did you know that you shouldn’t soak wooden bowls or boards in water because the water causes the wood to separate, leaving it “open” to kitchen-borne bacteria? Or that, because of new soap-types, today’s dishwashers should be regularly disinfected?  

Keep your kitchen free from bacteria is a constant battle but, using the tips from the video above, you’ll give yourself a fighting chance. 

How To Keep A Clean Refrigerator

Clean refrigeratorDo you clean your refrigerator regularly, or only after you’ve run out of space? If your answer is the latter, your refrigerator may be harboring dangerous bacteria that can make you, your family, and your house guests ill.

Refrigerators should be cleaned monthly, inside and out, ideally. The process involves removing all foods, cleaning all shelves, and wiping down drawers. Spoiled food is removed and old containers reclaimed.

The process takes 20 minutes. Here’s how to do it.

First, prepare your cleaning stations, including filling a sink with soapy water, and having drying towels handy. Complete this step before you start to remove food from the refrigerator. This limits the amount of time that food has available to reach room temperature.

Next, remove all food from the appliance. Throw out old food past its expiration, and leftovers which have been in containers for more than a few days. Check dairy products for expiration dates — especially cheeses and creams. Toss fruits and vegetables that have spoiled. Wipe down condiment jars and bottles with a damp towel.

Next, with the refrigerator empty, remove all shelves and drawers and wash them in the water-filled sink. Scrub to remove any caked-on foods and spills. Rinse off the soapy water and dry the part on your drying towels.

Then, while the shelves and drawers are drying, using a mixture of baking soda and water, wipe down the interior surfaces of your appliance. The mixture should be roughly 2 tablespoons of baking soda for every 1 gallon of water. Wipe the mixture off with a clean towel.

Lastly, move the shelves and drawers back into the refrigerator and replace all of the food that’s “good”.

Refrigerators can be a dirty place. We rarely wash our hands before handling food in a refrigerator and that can contribute to a bacteria-heavy environment. A good cleaning, though, can keep our foods — and our home — healthy.

Clean your refrigerator regularly.

How To Seal A Granite Countertop

Seal granite countertopsAmong homeowners, granite countertops remain a popular kitchen and bathroom finishing choice. Granite boasts a combination of natural beauty and durability that’s unmatched among most commercial options.

But different from many other countertops choices, granite is a natural material; mined from the Earth. It is porous and highly absorbent.

To protect the granite in your home, therefore, and to ensure its quality over time, you’ll want to seal your countertops at least once annually. A proper granite sealing will prevent stains and damage that can ruin your countertops’ appearances.

Sealing your granite countertops is a simple job, but one that requires a little bit elbow grease.

First, you should make sure your granite is actually ready to be re-sealed. To do this, soak a white cotton cloth in water and leave it on the corner of your countertop for a 10 minutes.  Lift the towel and check whether the area under the towel is discolored, or dark. This will indicate that your granite is absorbing liquid and needs sealing.

If the area is not disclored, your granite is already sufficiently sealed.

If your countertops do need to be sealed, here’s how to do it :

  1. With a spray cleaner, wipe down the entire surface and allow to dry
  2. Using a clean white rag, apply granite sealer to the surface uniformly
  3. Allow 30 minutes for the granite to absorb the sealer, or longer
  4. When dry, re-apply a second coat of sealer

Depending on the thickness and quality of your home’s granite, it may need to dry overnight so allow yourself the proper time to finish the job.

Once sealed, use preventative maintenance to keep your granite countertops looking great. Place coasters under beverages, hot plates under dishes and clean up spills immediately.

A well-cared for granite countertop will last for years.

How To Clean Your Microwave Without Harsh Chemicals

Clean microwaves, organicallyMicrowaves are often well-worn. Spills and splatters dot their ceilings; splattered food stuffs line their walls.

To clean your microwave, you can use the harsh chemicals on sale at supermarkets and hardware stores, or you can apply an all-natural approach which yields the same results, with only slightly more preparation time.

The extra time may be worth it, too, considering that the chemicals of an over-the-counter cleaner may seep into your foods over time.

To keep your microwave fresh and clean, using organic materials only, here’s what to do :

  1. Unplug your microwave from the wall for safety.
  2. Gather a microwave safe bowl; 1 1/4 cups of water; a lemon; baking soda; white vinegar; and cleaning cloths.
  3. Slice the lemon and place the slices into your bowl. Add the water.
  4. Heat the bowl in the microwave for 7 minutes. Leave the microwave door closed for an additional 5 minutes.
  5. Remove the bowl (CAUTION : Bowl will be hot).
  6. Remove the microwave’s glass cooking surface and wheel system. Hand wash and set aside to dry.
  7. Dip a clean cloth in the lemon water mixture. 
  8. Wipe down the microwave’s exterior and interior surfaces, remoistening the cloth as required.
  9. Moisten a clean cloth with vinegar. Wipe down the microwave door’s interior surface. 
  10. Replace glass and wheel system, and plug the microwave back in to the wall.

If you find lingering stains in your microwave, mix baking soda with water to form a thick paste. Dip a corner of your cleaning cloth into the paste and apply it to the stain directly, gently rubbing in a circular motion until the stain is gone.

Microwaves should be cleaned at least once weekly for optimal performance.

How To Clean A Cutting Board

Cutting board germ-freeGerm studies show that a kitchen cutting board carries up to 200 times more bacteria than a toilet seat.

This is because homeowners clean their bathrooms with fervor, while only “rinsing” down parts of their kitchens.

In failing to disinfect cutting boards (among other kitchen mainstays), homeowners leave untouched a prime bacteria breeding ground, and may be getting sick as a result.

According to the CDC, 48 million Americans get sick from food-borne bacteria each year. 

If it’s been a while since you’ve cleaned your kitchen cutting board, here are some tips on how to do it properly.

Homeowners with plastic cutting boards will have an easier go that homeowners with wooden cutting boards. If your cutting board is plastic, just place it in the dishwasher with dishwasher detergent. If your dishwasher has a “sanitize” feature, be sure to select it.

If your cutting board is made of wood, or another material that may crack and/or splinter in a dishwasher, follow these steps instead :

  1. Prepare a solution of natural dish soap and hot water.
  2. Without submerging the cutting board, scrub it with the solution.
  3. Towel dry the board and allow it to air-dry until completely dry.
  4. Apply a thin layer of undistilled white vinegar to the board surface either by spray can or paper towel.
  5. Allow the vinegar to sit for 30 minutes, then wipe clean.

For preventative care, you should also consider using separate cutting boards for meats and for fruits and vegetables. This can prevent cross-contamination. In addition, purchase a food-grade mineral oil and apply it to your wooden cutting boards regularly.

The kitchen is among the “germiest” places in your home. With extra attention, though, you can help keep it as bacteria-free as possible 

Which Is Better : Fresh Produce Or Frozen Produce?

Frozen Fruit and Fresh Fruit : Which Is Better?There’s a long-standing myth that freezer-section produce is “worse for you” than fresh produce from a farm. The truth, however, is often the opposite.

Because of upgrades in packaging and delivery methods, frozen produce is often more fresh than “fresh produce”, and contains higher nutrient levels, too.

The key is to know how to shop for it.

The main advantage that frozen produce carries over fresh produce is that frozen produce is picked in its most ripe — and most nutrient-rich —  state. Then, when the produce is flash-frozen, its nutrients become locked-in and sealed.

Fresh produce, by contrast, tends to be picked before it’s ripe, and is left to ripen in transit.

Because food nutrients degrade with exposure to heat and/or light, the longer it takes produce to get from the farm to the supermarket, the fewer nutrients the produce will have. 

Did you know? Fresh fruit and vegetables might sit for up 2 weeks before they’re sold by your local supermarket. And not to mention how long it may take you to consume them.

Another advantage of frozen produce is that it’s often less expensive than fresh fruit. For example, looking at the cost of strawberries bought in bulk:

This isn’t to say that frozen produce is “better” than fresh produce. It just depends on your circumstance. If you plan to consume the produce within a short period from purchase, and can account for its ripeness and freshness, fresh produce may be preferred. Or, if you eat organic produce, free from pesticides and chemicals — certain produce may be better eaten fresh.

But know the facts. Frozen produce can be healthier and cheaper — a good combination for your household.

How To Replace And Install A New Kitchen Faucet

Want to replace your kitchen faucet? It’s a job for which you could hire a plumber, or, with just a little bit of craftsman skill, it’s a project you could finish yourself.

Watch this video from the Lowe’s YouTube channel. You’ll get step-by-step instruction on how to take out an old faucet and how to install a new one. The supplies you’ll need are minimal, too.

In 3 minutes, the video covers:

  • How to shut the kitchen water supply off and drain residual water from the pipes
  • How to detach and remove the old kitchen faucet
  • How to align the new faucet and reconnect to the water lines

There’s some good tips along the way, too, including how to make sure you don’t accidentally connect the hot water supply to the cold-water faucet.

If you’re uncomfortable working with your home’s plumbing and would like a referral to a plumber , please just ask. I’m happy to help how I can.

Would Your Kitchen Pass A Health Inspection?

Americans spend a lot of time cooking and eating in their kitchens. What are you doing to keep yours germ- and bacteria-free?

In this two-part, 6-minute video from NBC’s The Today Show, you’ll first ride alongside a county health inspector as he visits a home and inspects its kitchen. The tested areas include the refrigerator, the cutting boards, the sponges, the utensils, the ovens, and more.¬†Ultimately, the home “passes”, but not before the inspector¬†points out some problems from which we all can learn.

Then, in the video’s second part, you’ll learn how to keep your own kitchen clean and healthy.

  • How much bleach to dilute to clean sinks, and how often to clean them
  • Why “time-to-evaporate” is an important metric when shopping for disinfectants
  • Comparing wood vs. glass vs. plastic cutting boards, and how to sanitize them, respectively

Keeping a germ-free kitchen requires constant attention and a routine cleaning schedule. Thankfully, it’s a simple process. Follow the basic steps as outlined by The Today Show, and your home would pass inspection.