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  • Sophia Kamveris, MS, RD

Would You Put a Baby in YOUR Sink?

I realize that kitchen sinks have been used for decades as a pseudo-tub for bathing infants (and many a photo op!) but no matter how shiny and pristine they may look, kitchens are a breeding ground for bacteria. I am a stickler for making sure my kitchen is free of possible bacteria-growing environments. I mean this is where we cook the food we eat! So, I have put together a list of things to keep you germ-free in your own kitchen.

Sinks: Once a week, I throw 1⁄4 cup of baking soda in my drain. Then I add in a few tablespoons of white vinegar and watch it sizzle. I let it sit there for about five minutes and then run water down the drain. While this combination is not proven to be effective for disinfecting your drain, it does help to clean it of some gook and make it smell better.

To deodorize the garbage disposal, I buy citrus balls, called “Plink,” available at most home goods stores (Walmart also carries them); just follow the directions on their package. Occasionally, I also take a half of a leftover lemon and scrub the sink with it like a sponge. You can also toss some small pieces of it in the drain and and turn on your garbage disposal. It works similarly to the Plink.

Sponges: These are a great breeding ground for bacteria because of their high moisture content and all of their nooks and crannies. Purchase a sponge holder (they have suction cups on them) so you can attach it to the side of the sink, or use a small dish. Never put a sponge down in a dirty sink as you do dishes. It re-contaminates it, transferring bacteria back to your dishes! Remember to wash these frequently, as well. Microwave your WET sponge for one minute at full power or run through the dishwasher (daily) to disinfect it. And remember, putting metal or dry sponges in the microwave is a potential fire hazard. I also throw mine in the washing machine.

Cutting Boards: Clean plastic or wooden cutting boards with soap and water or put plastic ones in the dishwasher at least once a week. (I don’t recommend putting the wooden ones in there.) Replace your boards if they are worn or full of gashes and cuts from knife marks. Bacteria harbors in these cuts. I like glass boards better for this reason, but I know those can be harsh on knives.

Refrigerator: Invest in a thermometer and keep your controls set to a temperature of 40 degrees or below. Always clean the inside of your fridge with soap and water.

Towels: Another great breeding ground for germs. If you use cloth towels, wash them daily. If I handle raw poultry, I always use a paper towel, especially to turn off the faucet! Touching anything after handling raw meats is asking for cross contamination.

Countertops: Use a separate sponge for washing down your prep area. Using soap and water is enough to clean countertops of dirt and grease. I am not a big fan of disinfectants on countertops since they have not been approved as safe to use around food. Vinegar is always a safe alternative as it’s proven to be very effective at breaking down molds, grease, and bacteria. To make your own cleaner, mix 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar and 1/2 cup of water together in a spray bottle. You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil of your choice if you want a fragrant spray.

Dishes: Never put your dishes away with even a drop of water on them-make sure you dry them thoroughly.

Bleach: I tend to shy away from bleach BUT the only occasion I would use it is in when I handle raw poultry in the sink. But, if you want to make a bleach solution, add one tablespoon of bleach to a gallon of water. Leave on a surface for a few minutes and rinse any surface that you’ve had bleach on very thoroughly with water. This diluted solution keeps for one week but keep it tightly covered AND clearly marked and away from children (or anyone else) that could easily mistake it for drinking water.

Now you have the tools to a germ-free kitchen. So, go ahead and plop your bundle of joy in the sink and click away those precious pictures for posterity. But remember........don’t toss the baby out with the dish water!


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