Keeping your kitchen clean

Keeping your kitchen clean, including worktops and chopping boards, is essential to keep food safe as bacteria can grow and spread.

Worktops

It's very important to keep worktops and chopping boards clean because they touch the food you are going to eat. If they aren't properly clean, bacteria could spread to food and make you ill.

You should:

  • always wash worktops before you start preparing food
  • wipe up any spilt food straight away
  • always wash worktops thoroughly after they have been touched by raw food including meat, poultry, vegetables or raw eggs
  • never put ready-to-eat food, such as washed and ready to eat salad, bread or washed fruit, on a worktop or chopping board that has been touched by raw meat or other raw foods, unless you have washed it thoroughly first

If you have a dishwasher, this is a very effective way to clean plastic chopping boards. Dishwashers can wash at a very high temperature, which kills bacteria. If you don't have a dishwasher, wash chopping boards thoroughly with hot water and washing-up liquid.

Ideally, it's better to have separate chopping boards for raw food and for ready-to-eat food.

Cloths

Dirty, damp cloths are the perfect place for bacteria to breed. So it's very important to wash kitchen cloths and sponges regularly and leave them to dry before using them again.

Ideally, try to keep different cloths for different jobs. For example, use one cloth to wipe worktops and another to wash dishes. This helps to stop bacteria spreading.

If you want to choose the safest option, you could use disposable kitchen towel to wipe worktops and chopping boards. This is because you throw the kitchen towel away after using it once, so it is less likely to spread bacteria than cloths you use again.

Tea towels can also spread bacteria, so it's important to wash them regularly and be careful how you use them. Remember, if you wipe your hands on a tea towel after you have touched raw meat, this will spread bacteria to the towel. Then, if you use the tea towel to dry a plate, the bacteria will spread to the plate.

Knives, spoons and other utensils

It's important to keep knives, wooden spoons, spatulas, tongs, and the like clean to help stop bacteria spreading to food. It's especially important to wash them thoroughly after using them with raw food, because they could spread bacteria to other food.

If you have a dishwasher, this is a very effective way to clean knives and other utensils because dishwashers can wash at a very high temperature, which kills bacteria. If you don't have a dishwasher, wash them thoroughly with hot water and washing-up liquid.

Hands

It's very easy for hands to spread bacteria all round the kitchen, because we touch so many things, from food to fridge handles, towels to can openers. So to keep your kitchen clean you need to keep your hands clean.

Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water at each of these times:

  • before starting to prepare food
  • after touching raw food such as meat, poultry, vegetables and eggs
  • after going to the toilet
  • after touching the bin
  • after touching pets

Dry your hands thoroughly, because if they are wet they will spread bacteria more easily. The safest option is to use disposable kitchen towels, or to use a towel that you only use for drying hands - not your apron or a tea towel.

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