Where do you spend most of your time at home? (If you said “bathroom,” that wasn’t quite the answer we were looking for.) But if you said “kitchen,” then we’re in business. Because that’s of course where we cook our meals and then eat those said meals. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise when we tell you that the surfaces in your kitchen should be clean enough to eat off. Not sure how to proceed? The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, along with ConAgra Foods, is on a mission to get people in the kitchen — not just to cook, but also to clean away the grime and mess this spring. “Spring cleaning is a great opportunity to give the kitchen a good food safety check and cleaning, especially refrigerators and freezers where raw meat, poultry and seafood is stored,” said registered dietitian nutritionist and academy spokeswoman Karen Ansel.
You’re probably washing your countertops after preparing food, but are you scrubbing pre-prep? Scrub before and after with hot soapy water. You should also clean surfaces and utensils with a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water. Other surfaces, like appliances, countertops and cutting boards should also be cleaned with hot, soapy water after your food prep. This will help prevent cross-contamination, especially if you’re cooking meat.
The refrigerator temperature should be set to below 40° F. Always be on the lookout for drips and spills in the fridge and clean them right away with hot, soapy water, and rinse them well. Place an open box of baking soda in the fridge to keep it smelling fresh. Don’t use solvent cleaning agents, abrasives and any cleansers that leave your food or ice cubes with a chemical taste or cause damage to the interior finish of your refrigerator.
Spring cleaning is a great time to check the food in your pantry. Have they expired? Spoiled? Just plain gross? Check out our infographic to find out how long different foods last in your fridge. Even, better take a look at your food once a week, and throw out perishables that are past their date.