How to Deep Clean Your Kitchen and *Actually* Kill Germs

TBH, you might just be spreading them all around.

We’re using it more, which means it’s loaded with microbes, experts say. Here’s how to make your cooking space clean and safe.

The kitchen is the germiest place in the house,” says Charles Gerba, Ph.D., a microbiologist at the University of Arizona. That’s because there’s a steady supply of food for bacteria there, and we’ve been less likely to use disinfectant cleaners in our kitchens until recently, he says. (

But now, with the coronavirus to watch out for, not to mention the germs that cause foodborne bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella, it’s time to get serious about sanitizing. Here’s your plan.

Clean First, Then Fight Germs

Cleaning removes dirt and some microbes from surfaces, but it doesn’t necessarily kill viruses and bacteria, says Nancy Goodyear, Ph.D., an associate professor of biomedical and nutritional sciences at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. That’s what sanitizing and disinfecting are for. But here’s why cleaning first is crucial: If you don’t do it before you sanitize, the dirt on your surfaces can block disinfectants from reaching the germs you’re trying to kill or even deactivate the disinfectants, she says. Use an all-purpose cleaner with a microfiber cloth. (

After cleaning, use another product to kill germs, says Jason Marshall, of the Toxics Use Reduction Institute at UMass Lowell. Always read labels carefully: A sanitizer will bring the number of microorganisms that cause foodborne illnesses down to a safe level, but only something labeled a disinfectant can kill viruses like the one that causes COVID-19. And don’t just spray and wipe. To work properly, disinfectants need to stay in contact with the surface for a certain amount of time, which varies from product to product, so check the bottle before using it. (

Hidden Germ Hot Spots

Sink & Counters

The sink is a breeding ground for germs, and countertops are constantly being touched. Disinfect them once or twice a day. (Here are 12 Other Places You Should Probably Clean ASAP)


It’s a microbe magnet. Sanitize it in the microwave (put it, wet, in the microwave for one minute on high) or dishwasher, or soak it in a diluted bleach solution, every few days. Replace your sponge every few weeks.

Handles & Knobs

The door handles of the refrigerator, cabinets, and pantry harbor germs from all the use they get. Disinfect them once or twice a day.

Cutting Boards

These “usually have more E. coli than a toilet seat,” says Gerba. After you cut raw meat, run the cutting board through the dishwasher on the sanitize cycle, he says.

Gaskets & Seals

Germs can lurk on the blender gasket and the seals of food storage containers, according to research. Take them apart, clean, and dry thoroughly after every use. (

Dish Towels

Replace them with clean towels every three days.

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