There's nothing nicer than a clean kitchen: sparkling pots and pans, all your cupboards in order, surfaces wiped and plates away. But did you know that most of us aren’t doing it right, at all, and we’re not using the right products? Here are five common cleaning mistakes you’re probably making right now (and how to fix them).
Using dirty sponges
You probably already know this, even if you don't admit it, but the kitchen sponge is probably the dirtiest thing in your house.
“We use the sponge to clean all kinds of food and grease of plates, and even if you rinse it thoroughly with water, some of the dirt settles inside the pores, and bacteria starts to grow over time,” says Jane Wilson, head of marketing and social for Fantastic Cleaners Melbourne. “All that spreads over the plates when you use the contaminated sponge.”
Gross. To disinfect the sponges, she suggests you boil them, put them in the dishwasher or place them in some water and microwave them for a couple of minutes. It should be done at least once a week, and don't forget to replace them every two months or so.
Not cleaning the fridge
Your fridge can be a major health hazard, especially if you don’t store your food properly. Meat, fish and dairy, all need to be kept separately, preferably in airtight containers and you need to be vigilant about spoilage.
“When something rots, the germs can easily spread to everything in there because it’s a closed environment,” warns Jane, who suggests you go through it regularly to remove anything rotten or spoiled.
Wipe away spills immediately, and once a month you really should empty the fridge completely and give it a good scrub.
“All the shelves and containers should be taken out and washed by hand and dried. The inside of the fridge can be cleaned with a half vinegar, half water solution,” advises Jane.
Spraying detergents directly on surfaces
“This is a mistake most people make,” says Jane. “Not all surfaces benefit from large amounts of acidic detergents, and the direct spraying can leave streaks and smudges, as well as residue.”
As a rule, you should avoid spraying directly onto things like electronics, electrical sockets, wooden surfaces and porous tiles. Instead, spray a small amount of the detergent onto a microfibre cloth and wipe the surface this way.
Using paper towels for everything
Paper towels are very practical, easy to use, and they are usually available in every kitchen. But they can be heavy on the budget and the environment, and they also tear easily or leave lint on some surfaces.
Instead, suggests Jane, “you can use some more sustainable alternatives, like microfibre cloths for most surfaces, old newspapers for the windows, reusable towels or old T-shirts to wipe floors.”
Not looking after you chopping boards
Chopping boards, especially the wooden ones, need special care to be disinfected properly, or you’re looking at germ heaven. And take note - it’s good to use one cutting board for all the vegetables, and one just for meat and fish.
“When it comes to cleaning them,” says Jane, “a sponge and dish detergent are not efficient enough to clean your meat cutting board, because small particles get stuck inside the cut marks, they breed germs, which afterwards get transferred onto your food.”
Don't throw them in the dishwasher either, because wooden boards will crack, and the plastic ones can melt.
“Instead, you should soak the cutting boards, in a hydrogen peroxide solution (one spoon of hydrogen peroxide to two litres of water) for a few minutes, then rinse thoroughly and dry completely,” she advises.