Student Cooking: Kitchen Hygiene

To avoid making yourself ill through breeding bugs and accumulated germs in your kitchen, you need to be aware of routinely cleaning it to ensure it stays a hygienic environment for you and your housemates.

Follow these tips to keep your kitchen free of germs and avoid getting food poisoning:

  • Wipe down the surfaces thoroughly with warm water and washing up liquid, or antibacterial spray, both before and after you’ve finished preparing any food.
  • Keep the hobs on your stove clean by wiping off any spills as soon as possible and scrape off anything burnt onto them with a plastic scraper. The surfaces of hobs are susceptible to scratches, so don’t use anything abrasive to clean them – a dishcloth or sponge is fine. Your basic oven cleaner should be ok for removing most stains.
  • Empty the bins in the kitchen before they overflow, otherwise you’ll be encouraging rodents to move in! If you are able to, recycle all your plastic, glass and cardboard.
  • Do the washing up after every meal – if you can, soak and wash pots and pans as you prepare your meal. This way, you only have to clean the plate(s) and cutlery you used to eat your food with afterwards.
  • Always wash your hands before you start preparing a meal, and afterwards too, especially if you’ve been handling raw meat.
  • Any cooked leftovers should be kept in the fridge and eaten within 2 days. Make sure they're heated through properly when you eat them, and don’t reheat anything that’s been frozen.
  • As well as cleaning out your fridge and freezer with soap and water, make sure you throw away any items that look like they might have gone off or are well past their use by date.
  • Throw your tea towels in the wash a couple of times a week to stop bacteria growing on them.

Fridge

  • Take out the shelves and any compartments in the fridge once a month and wash them with soap and warm water. Rinse and dry them before putting back.
  • The inside of the fridge can be wiped down with a mixture of bicarbonate of soda and water. Make sure to wipe down the outside of the fridge too, especially the handle!
  • Once or twice a year, pull the fridge out and vacuum the cooling elements at the back. This will make your fridge more efficient.

Freezer

  • When ice starts building up in the freezer, you will need to defrost it. Take out all the items and put them in cool bags (or ideally, borrow someone else’s freezer space for a little while!).
  • Put a bowl of hot water inside to help the ice thaw, and once it starts melting, chisel out all the ice with an ice scraper (or can just leave it to melt on its own, but this will take longer). Make sure you've put down some newspaper or towels to soak up all the water!
  • Once all the ice is gone, take out all the shelves and compartments and wash them in warm soapy water. Rinse and replace.
  • Once or twice a year, pull the freezer out and vacuum the cooling elements at the back to make the appliance more efficient.

Oven

  • Wipe out the oven with a cloth and warm water after every use. It might seem tedious, but it's important if you want to avoid a horribly dirty oven that you then have to attack with chemicals.
  • If your oven does happen to become particularly dirty, mix a thick paste of bicoarbonate of soda, smear it all over the oven and leave it to do its stuff overnight. In the morning, get a scourer and some warm water and scrub away all the dirt with a good bit of elbow grease!

Sink

  • Try to wipe down the sink at least once a day. Disinfect it every week by filling it up with warm water and a small amount of bleach. Scrub it round with a scourer afterwards, not forgetting the plug chain and the inside of the plug.

It won’t take long to follow these simple rules, and will lead to a healthier time in the kitchen. Try to arrange a cleaning rota with your fellow students so the chores are equally shared, and all the cleaning isn’t left up to one or two people.