Avoiding Germs in the Kitchen

It is a nice thought that germs are confined to the bathroom and more public areas of the home, but the reality is much more troubling: germs are everywhere. The kitchen can be a source for many, many germs, and during flu season it is especially important to avoid them. Nobody wants their food contaminated with germs that might make them sick. Here are some valuable ways to avoid germs in the kitchen this flu season:

Wash Your Hands

When you go to the doctor, what is the first thing that medical professionals do when they enter the room to see you? Wash their hands. Dr. Rohit Varma, a medical professional of ophthalmology and preventive medicine, would agree that hand-washing is the most important step you can take to prevent germs. When should you wash your hands? The Center for Disease Control gives the full list, but some of the highlights include:

  • After using the bathroom or helping a child use the bathroom.
  • Before and after coming into contact with food: eating, serving or preparing it.
  • After coming into contact with bodily fluids of any kind: mucus, saliva, blood, vomit, urine or feces.
  • After coming into obvious contact with germs: taking out the trash, caring for someone who is ill, etc.

Scrub any traces of the flu off of your hands before coming into contact with food, whether it is being served, prepared, or anything in between. Follow the proper hand-washing procedures:

  • Wet hands with water.
  • Add soap and lather, lather, lather. Make sure that you get areas like under the fingernails, between fingers and the base of your thumbs. Singing “happy birthday” to yourself twice is a good way to determine how long to wash your hands.
  • Rinse off all soap with water.
  • Dry your hands completely.
  • Use a paper towel to turn off the faucet

Food Preparation Surfaces

This includes counter tops, cutting boards, and cutlery. Wipe down all counter tops with a damp washcloth and soapy water before and after preparing food. It is also strongly recommended that you use a bleach solution (ratio: ½ cup bleach to 1 gallon of water) to ensure that the counters are sanitized. Let air dry, rinse with warm water, and dry with a clean cloth. Cutting boards and cutlery should be run through the dishwasher, or washed with hot, soapy water and rinsed thoroughly.

Keep the Table Clean

If you keep a tablecloth on your table, ensure that it is laundered regularly to ensure any potential flu-causing germs are killed. Wash it, as well as any cloth napkins or placemats, in the hot cycle of the washing machine. Use color-safe bleach on linens, or regular chlorine bleach on whites. While these are in the washing machine, clean your table. Spray it with all-purpose cleaner and wipe it down, then let it air dry. Your linens will come out of the dryer to a fresh, clean surface.

Germs might be everywhere, but taking steps to avoid them in the kitchen especially is essential in staying healthy this flu season.

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