There have been reports out for years regarding bacterial issues with sponges and cutting boards as well as other kitchen surfaces. As a result manufactures fed into and continue to feed into the fear by developing anti-bacterial kitchen cleaners. Anti-bacterial agents are now found in dish detergents, kitchen wet wipes, kitchen de-odourizing sprays, kitchen hand soaps and kitchen surface cleaners. Anti-bacterial agents are also found in some kitchen plastics such as some NSF® (National Sanitation Foundation certified) knife handles and in some plastic cutting boards. The bottom line is when it comes to controlling bacteria in the kitchen the vast majority of the anti-bacterial products are not necessary. In fact they have been implicated in the emergence of super bugs (anti-bacterial resistant bacteria) as well as the increased incidence of allergies and asthma. In addition to these concerns anti-bacterial products are considerably more expensive than the eco-friendly alternatives. This week's Frugal Kitchens 101 focuses on how to disinfect your kitchen without the use of specialized anti-bacterial products.
The following eco-friendly cleaning solutions will help control bacteria and bacterial contamination in the kitchen:
- soap - Soap as opposed to detergents is either animal (beef fat) or vegetable based. Soap is eco-friendly because it does not contain phosphates, bleaching or anti-bacterial agents and is biodegradable. By it's very nature simple soap and water can be quite effective at controlling bacteria on surfaces and hands. Soap can be homemade or store bought usually in a bar or flake form (eg. Sunlight, Ivory, Fel Naptha) but can also be found in liquid form.
- white vinegar - White vinegar has anti-bacterial properties while being an effective de-odourizer. It is inexpensive and can be used on most kitchen surfaces. It can be warmed in a mug in the microwave oven to clean and de-odourize it. White vinegar can be added to the rinse water when washing t-towels to kill any bacteria that may be present. A 1:1 (water:vinegar) solution in a spray bottle can be used to wipe down countertops, appliance surfaces, sinks and taps to not only shine but sanitize. A cup of vinegar can be used in the dishwasher to remove any water deposit build-up while sanitizing and freshening the inside of the dishwasher. Straight white vinegar can be used to kill off any mold or mildew on kitchen window sills or in the refrigerator as well as sanitize cutting boards. A bowl of straight white vinegar can be used in place of anti-bacterial kitchen sprays to effectively eliminate kitchen cooking odours. Add vinegar to the water used to wash fruits and vegetables to eliminate surface bacteria and residues.
- rubbing alcohol - Straight rubbing alcohol (denatured ethanol or isopropyl) is one of the most effect sanitizers you can use in the kitchen. It will effectively kill bacteria from most kitchen surfaces without harming them. Pour rubbing alcohol into a spray bottle for easy application. Spray onto cutting boards after use and again after washing to kill any remaining bacteria.