Sponge Safety: The Dos and Don’ts You Need to Know to Keep Your Sponge Clean

kitchen spongeSponges are fantastic for wiping up messes and absorbing liquid quickly. They can even absorb harmful foodborne pathogens and help scrub down sticky messes in the kitchen in no time. What would we do without our handy sponges? Unfortunately, while sponges are quite handy, they can also quickly begin harboring millions of germs right under your nose. If you aren’t careful, this could mean a much higher chance of cross-contamination in the kitchen.

Though you can’t eliminate 100% of the germs that are hiding in the nooks and crannies of your sponge, there are many ways that you can drastically cut down the risk of cross-contamination and keep your kitchen workspace clean. Check out our super-easy dos and don’ts of kitchen sponge safety – tips that you need to know to keep your space clean and free of disease and infection!

Do:

Clean Your Sponge Daily – Want to really lower the risk of cross-contamination? Sanitize your sponge every day! To back this up, researches at the USDA found that over 99% of bacteria, yeasts, and molds were killed when damp sponges were heated in the microwave for one minute and also when they were run through a dishwasher (complete with drying cycle). Easy as that!

Store Them In a Dry Location – Germs and bacteria love wet, dark places, so take that environment out of the equation by storing your sponges in a dry location. Just make sure to wring out the sponge after each use and wash off any loose food particles before doing so!

Replace Them Frequently – Even after 2-3 uses, your sponge can be absolutely filled to the brim with bacteria. While it’s true that cleaning your sponge daily will help eradicate these germs and reduce the risk of food poisoning, you should still strongly consider replacing your sponge regularly. As soon as you start to notice the sponge smelling at any point, throw it away and bring out a new one.

Don’t:

Wipe Up Meat Juices – This is a huge no-no! Cleaning up any spills from poultry or ground beef is a recipe for disaster because it increases your chances of spreading harmful foodborne pathogens. That job should be reserved for a paper towel or disinfectant wipe.

Use Them on Countertops – Sponges can contain millions of bacteria – yes, millions! You don’t want to spread those on your countertops where you place your food, plates, and utensils. Avoid spreading those bacteria by using a paper towel or disinfectant wipe on your countertops. This helps keep cross-contamination in check!

Ignore Dishcloths – Once again, your sponge is a powerful tool, but it shouldn’t be considered as a catch-all for kitchen duties. That’s where dishcloths come in! Much like your sponge, though, your dishcloths should be laundered frequently because they harbor plenty of germs themselves. Remember to wash them in hot water and dry them on high heat in the dryer to keep them nice and germ-free!

Want a sparkling kitchen in your home or in your business (or both)? Stop by U.S. Wiping in beautiful St. Louis! We have all of the latest and greatest cleaning products to make sure that your space is clean and germ-free, no matter how big or small the job is. Check out our stock online as well at www.uswiping.com!

Grill Master 101: The Six S’s of a Clean Grill

grillWe’ve officially arrived at the dog days of summer, and you know what that means! It’s time for a break from standing next to the hot grill while we all wait for things to cool down a bit. Odds are you’ve built up a lot of grease and food on your grill already, so now it’s time to clean it off the right way in preparation for an autumn filled with tailgating, barbecues, and good times!

So how can you make sure you’re cleaning your grill so that it’s safe for everyone? Check out these six tips to find out!

Soak the Grates—The first thing you need to do for any grill is to remove the grates. Leaving them in just lets the grime you’ve knocked loose stick to other surfaces. If you have a big enough container, soak the grates in hot soap and water. If not, be prepared for some intense scrubbing with a steel brush! Alternatively, you can soak your grates for 24 hours in a mixture of ammonia, water, vinegar, and baking soda. But be careful! Remember that baking soda and vinegar are the erupting ingredients of the legendary classroom volcano, and use gently!

Scour the Hood—If you look on the underside of the lid, you’ll see a lot of grease build-up just waiting to heat up and drip on your food. Without removal, it will heat the metal hood up even faster, increasing the danger for burns. Take a steel brush to this as well! For best results, soak the lid with white vinegar for a few minutes before scrubbing. Vinegar is a great green alternative to soap when cleaning your grill!

Scrub the Heaters—If your heating elements are dirty, you could be losing a lot of fuel just compensating for the dirt! If you’re using charcoal, scrub the inside of the bowl with a steel brush, soaking first with vinegar. If you’re using propane, you need to be a bit gentler with the burners. Let them soak in vinegar before wiping them down with a scouring pad or rough cloth.

Stop the Rust—A few of the parts in your grill will inevitably begin to rust throughout the season. Either soak them in same mixture as the grates or, if they’re too rusted out, recycle and replace them! The last thing you need is a piece of your grill rusting out and breaking while you’re trying to use it! If you’re not sure about its quality, soak it in the mixture before deciding. It will help take off some of the rust, so if it’s too rusted the solution will simply dissolve the part, answering the question for you!

Sweep the Cabinet—If your grill has a cabinet to house a propane tank, you need to check it for leaves and other debris that has built up over time. Loose organic material can be a fire hazard when you’re operating your grill, so make sure it’s swept out and cleaned before you demonstrate your fall barbecue skills!

Stay on Top—The number one danger to your grill’s lifespan is negligence! Instead of doing a deep clean every few months, spread those out by cleaning your grill after each use! There are a number of methods out there for your consideration. Some people clean their grates with half of an onion by “scrubbing” the top after each use. Others do the same thing with a ball of aluminum foil. If you want to wait for it to cool off first, use a spray bottle filled with vinegar on the grates followed by scrubbing with aluminum foil. Your grill will last much longer with regular care!

Whenever you’re grilling, make sure you’re doing so safely. The cleanest grill in the world can be dangerous if used improperly. Keep in mind that you’re operating an open flame and could have unaware individuals around who could be hurt. The best grill master is a safe one!

So get out there and have fun this season! Whether you’re cleaning your grill, home, or otherwise, don’t forget to check out http://uswiping.com/ for the best cleaning products!