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Published May 20, 2009, 07:33 AM

Spring clean the kitchen

When you’re shaking off winter with spring cleaning, target harmful bacteria that can lurk on kitchen surfaces and even in the refrigerator. While you can’t see or smell bacteria — they are everywhere, and they especially like moist environments. A clean and dry kitchen helps fight bacteria and protect you and your family from food-borne illness.

By: Luella Morehouse, NDSU Extension Service, Stutsman County, The Jamestown Sun

When you’re shaking off winter with spring cleaning, target harmful bacteria that can lurk on kitchen surfaces and even in the refrigerator.

While you can’t see or smell bacteria — they are everywhere, and they especially like moist environments.

A clean and dry kitchen helps fight bacteria and protect you and your family from food-borne illness.

Some cleaning tips you should practice to make your kitchen and your meals safer throughout the year:

* Clean your kitchen counters and other surfaces that come in contact with food thoroughly with hot, soapy water. After washing the surfaces, you can sanitize them with a diluted chlorine bleach solution or a disinfectant kitchen cleaner.

Use just one teaspoon of chlorine bleach to one quart of water. Let the solution stand on the surface for a few minutes; then blot dry with clean paper towel.

* What’s better to use for cleaning your kitchen: sponges or dishcloths? Sponges can contain millions of bacteria because they provide a warm, moist place for germs to grow.

Using a contaminated sponge can contaminate your kitchen.

* Dishcloths are a better option, but if they’re soiled, they also can contaminate your kitchen.

Be sure to launder dishcloths in hot water and use a fresh dishcloth daily.

Also, consider using paper towels to clean up kitchen surfaces. When done, throw away the towel.

* Rid your fridge of spills, bacteria, mold and mildew. Clean your refrigerator weekly to kill germs that could contaminate foods.

To tackle bacteria, mold and mildew, clean interior refrigerator surfaces with hot, soapy water. Rinse with a damp cloth; dry with a clean cloth.

Do not use chlorine bleach inside your refrigerator because it could damage seals, gaskets and linings.

* When was the last time the kitchen sink drain, disposal and connecting pipe in your home were sanitized?

The kitchen sink drain, disposal and connecting pipe are often overlooked, but they should be sanitized once or twice a week by pouring down the sink a diluted chlorine bleach solution.

Food particles get trapped in the drain and disposal, creating the perfect environment for bacterial growth.

For more information on this topic, contact Luella Morehouse, FNP Education Assistant, NDSU Extension Service Stutsman County, 116 1/2 First Street East, Jamestown, ND. Morehouse may be reached at 252-9030 or luella.morehouse@ndsu. edu.

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