how to clean sanitize and disinfect your dishes

How to Sanitize Dishes and Disinfect them to Prevent Illness

Is your plate safe to use? Well, it depends if somebody who has the flu just ate off it and how well it’s cleaned. It is essential to sanitize dishes and disinfect them, especially when someone in your household is ill. Even if you don’t develop symptoms or get sick, you can pass it on to someone else. We’ll discuss 5 critical steps you need to do to eliminate spreadable illnesses from your dishes.

Proper kitchen cleanliness and dish sanitation are essential to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria and viruses. When someone is sick with a contagious illness, take extra precautions so no one else gets sick. Avoid sharing dishes, including drinking glasses, serving utensils, and silverware. They should have their own dining set because the flu virus can live on solid surfaces for up to 48 hours.

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How to sanitize and disinfect your dishes

Here are some basic guidelines to clean and sanitize dishes, whether you have a dishwasher or wash by hand.

Method 1: Use a Dishwasher – with a sterilizing cycle if it has one

sink with dirty dishes and utensils

Even if you have a dishwasher, there are specific steps that you need to take to avoid contamination. Start with pre-wash. Don’t skip this step, whether washing the dishes by hand or with a dishwasher.

Scrape any food particles or anything remaining on your plates, glasses, or utensils. Be sure to pay special attention to your forks and knives because they have more hard-to-reach surfaces like the prongs and the grooves where food can get stuck. But if you don’t want to do dishes, you can use paper plates and plastic utensils that you can throw away after using them.

Method 2: Wash Dishes By Hand

Step 1: Sanitize the Sink

Clean the places where you prepared food, like countertops and sink. Leaving your dirty dishes and utensils in the sink will only create breeding grounds for bacteria and germs. And also, to avoid contamination, it is essential to always wash your hands before and after cleaning.

Step 2: Wash the dishes with hot water and dish detergent (we like Dawn or Dawn Ultra) and scrub or brush.
scraping food off a plate

The water temperature should range between 95-120°F. Suppose the water temperature drops so it’s no longer hot, or if it gets dirty, drain it and replace it with clean water. To avoid burning your hands, wear gloves.

Step 3: Rinse the dishes with the hottest water.

Wash off until no liquid detergent or grease is left on the plates or utensils. Food or grease buildup won’t allow the disinfectant to get through.

Step 4: Disinfect

There are 2 options for disinfecting your dishes or utensils. First, soak your dishes in hot water at a temperature of 170°F or higher for at least 30 seconds.

Second, mix 1 tbsp of chlorine bleach and one gallon of warm water. Soak your dishes with this sanitizing solution for at least one minute. Or, if you don’t have the ingredients for the sanitizing solution, you can use sanitizing tablets or the Force of Nature Cleaner.

Step 5: Dry the Dishes

Let dishes dry completely before putting them away. Use a dish towel to wipe off the excess water. Use a dish rack rather than a dish mat. Plates shouldn’t be in a sink full of water or even a puddle of water because these can trap heat and moisture and will encourage the growth of bacteria and mold.

Like a sponge, a dish towel is usually the dirtiest in your kitchen. Make sure to wash it after each use or replace it with new ones. You can buy them in bundles in Amazon.

According to a study published in the Journal of Environmental Health, the best way to clean dishcloths or sponges, other than replacing them regularly, is to microwave them for 2 mins at full power. It kills or inactivates more than 99% of all living germs and bacteria spores.

Disinfecting and Sanitizing – what’s the Difference?

Many people think that if something looks clean, it’s safe to eat off. Your kitchen may look spotless but still has many bacteria, germs, and viruses. It may be that you get an upset stomach, but if someone’s sick, it also means it can spread to everyone in the house.

You’ve heard of the food pyramid, but did you know there’s a cleaning pyramid too? Most of us will use the bottom, which is clean, and the middle, which is sanitized, but when it comes to more serious illnesses that are contagious, you want to take the extra step to the top of the pyramid, which is to disinfect. Same with if with surfaces that touch raw meat such as chicken or beef.

cleaning pyramid

What’s the difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting?

Cleaning is physically removing grease, food residue, and dirt. This includes removing a large number of bacteria, but it can also spread them. It’s the mechanical removal of debris.

Sanitation is a general term that refers to reducing the overall microbes on a surface, which can help reduce the chances of getting sick.

Disinfecting is stronger. Disinfectants reduce germs by 99.9%. You usually have to leave the disinfectant on a surface for a given time to be effective. For example, it takes up to 30 seconds for bleach, but for other household cleaners, it can be up to 3-4 mins.

How long do you need to leave disinfectants on a surface to disinfect? Read the label, and it will tell you. Also, check to see if you need to rinse the chemical off after or let it dry.

Feel free to leave your questions or comments below.

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