5 Easy Ways To Make Your Kitchen Safer

The kitchen is truly the heart of the home. It’s where you prepare healthy, home-cooked meals and gather with loved ones. It’s also where a seemingly minor slip up could endanger your family’s health. The busier you are, the easier it is to overlook potential health hazards.

These five easy tips won’t take a lot of your time or money, but they can go a long way toward keeping your family safe and healthy.

1. Sanitize your sponge…or toss it

Kitchen sponges are loaded with all kinds of germs and can contribute to foodborne illness. They’re porous and stay wet a long time, making them the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.

According to the USDA, the most effective way to kill bacteria in your kitchen sponge is to put it in the dishwasher. Use the top rack and a heated drying cycle. The next best method is to microwave it on high for one minute. In between cleanings, keep your sponge as dry as possible.

If a sponge looks stained, starts to shred or has an odor, it’s time to replace it.

2. Invest in multiple cutting boards

Unless you have time to completely sanitize your cutting board with each food you prepare, it’s safer to have multiple cutting boards. It’s a good idea to have one cutting board for meat and poultry, and another for produce. That will help prevent cross-contamination.

The EWG recommends wooden, rather than plastic cutting boards. You can also use glass or marble, which are easier to sanitize.

The USDA recommends washing all cutting boards in hot, soapy water followed by a water rinse. Air dry or pat dry with clean paper towels. Do this after each use. Nonporous acrylic, plastic, or glass cutting boards can go in the dishwasher. If your cutting boards look worn out or have deep grooves, it’s time to replace them.

3. Use a cooking thermometer

Undercooked meat and poultry is a serious health hazard. It’s a good way to spread Salmonella, E. coli, or other foodborne illnesses. The thing is, you can’t always tell if meat is undercooked just by looking. One way to be sure your food is cooked to a safe temperature is to use a thermometer.

You don’t need a fancy gadget, either. A simple, inexpensive thermometer will do the trick. Not sure what temperature is safe? This chart on FoodSafety.gov lists the safest cooking temps for assorted meats.

4. Purge the plastics

We know many plastic products have chemical additives that are harmful to our health. According to EWG, those plastics can migrate into our food. Peek into your kitchen cupboards and you’re bound to find old plastic containers that have seen better days.

Plastic food containers that have cracks or appear worn out should be discarded. The EWG recommends avoiding polycarbonate containers. (They’re rigid and transparent and sometimes marked with a #7 or “PC”.) When you do use plastic containers, choose plastics marked with #1, 2, 4, or 5, and never use them to heat food. When you heat food in the microwave, cover it with paper towels instead of plastic wrap.

If possible, replace plastic food containers with those made of glass or ceramic. They’re more attractive and durable, too.

5. Get a kitchen fire extinguisher and learn how to use it

Kitchen fires can quickly grow out of control. You know you should keep an eye on the stove and that you shouldn’t pile combustibles nearby, but do you have a fire extinguisher…and do you know how to use it?

Having a working fire extinguisher at your disposal can save your entire home from going up in flames. But not just any fire extinguisher — make sure it’s designed for kitchen use. OSHA has a list of the different types of fire extinguishers and how they should be used.

Don’t store your fire extinguisher too near the stove or oven. A better place is near an exit, so you don’t get trapped near the fire. And learn how to use and maintain it so you’re not scrambling in an emergency.

More Kitchen Tips
Is It Safe To Eat Moldy Food?
Video: Do Not Wash That Chicken!
Video: Is The ’5-Second Rule’ True?

Photo: Estudi M6/iStock/Thinkstock


Naomi D
Naomi D11 months ago


Olga Nycz-Shirley
Olga Nycz-Shirely11 months ago

TY. Noted.

Emma Z
Past Member 11 months ago

Thanks for posting

william Miller
william Miller2 years ago


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill2 years ago


Muff-Anne York-Haley

Good tips:))

Sonia Minwer Barakat Requ
Sonia M2 years ago

Thanks for sharing

Fi T.
Past Member 2 years ago

The best way to love ourselves and family

Igor P.
Past Member 2 years ago

If you will throw away your perfectly fine sponge, your grandchildren will live on the garbage gumb.. So, sanitize it with boiling water once a week or so... Be smart, by Earth-friendly products!