Bacteria are everywhere. They lurk inside cupboards, on the floor, and especially in your kitchen. Wherever there is food, you can expect tons of bacterial activity. Although some bacteria are rather beneficial, others can cause diseases and allergies.
Your food may catch bacteria if you under-cook it or leave it out for too long. An organism called Salmonella Enteritidis thrives in poultry and eggs if they’re under-cooked. It has been allegedly charged with causing stomach cramps, fever, and diarrhea.
These infested food particles can transfer onto your kitchen utensils. There are chances that your pans will carry these bacteria if you don’t properly clean them.
In fact, some metals like steel have a greater tendency to hold up bacteria for longer. Copper cookware, on the other hand, has strong anti-bacterial properties.
Most homeowners never use one kind of cookware exclusively. It’s always a combination. Hence, proper cleaning is essential to ensure that your cookware is well-sanitized.
Simply rinsing them with soap and water isn’t enough to keep stubborn bacterial growth at bay. As long as the cookware comes in contact with food, you can’t avoid bacteria.
Understand the Difference between Sanitizing and Disinfecting Cookware
Although the terms disinfecting and sanitizing are used interchangeably, they have different meanings.
Apart from routine cleaning, you will often resort to a chemical sanitizer or a disinfectant to annihilate all the bacteria and viruses off your cookware. The following are a few differences that set the two apart.
- When you sanitize, you’re basically destroying germs using a chemical or high-heat solution. On the other hand, disinfecting is far superior as it gets rid of stubborn germs and bacteria from cooking through a strong disinfectant.
- Sanitizers are quicker as they do the job in 30 seconds, while disinfectants may need somewhere between 5-10 minutes. Most restaurants, daycare, and hospitals sanitize their cooking utensils and equipment on a daily basis.
- Sanitizing is a food safety step that is gentle enough to employ frequently. Disinfectants, however, are stronger and harsher, which limits their usage.
The Benefits of Sanitizing Your Cookware
Sanitizing is an important food safety measure that should be used for all your cookware.
You should bring this practice into your daily kitchen cleaning routine. A hygienic kitchen means clean food and a healthy family.
So, without further ado, let’s get into why you should sanitize your pans as often as four times a week.
Only Sanitizers Can Kill Illness Causing Germs
Stomach illnesses are all too common, so homeowners will hardly ever consider that they are occurring because the cookware isn’t properly washed.
To completely avoid this headache, dipping your metal pots and pans in sanitizing solution a few times will ensure none of the germs survive.
Even if you give your dishes a good wash, there’s no guarantee that the germs have been killed off. Only when you use a targeted solution or high-heat to disinfect your cookware, can you ensure the absence of illness-causing germs.
Cleaning for Health and Hygiene
Simply washing the dishes with a bar of soap and sponge is not enough to kill off the germs. Every now and then, you will need a concentrated solution to treat the bacteria and germ lurking on your pans.
Old-Fashioned elbow grease and dish soap will not give your cookware a deep cleaning.
The only way to properly sanitize your dishes is high heat or a strong disinfecting solution. Temperatures greater than 145 Fahrenheit are what essentially kill off the bacteria on your cookware. Even if you’re wearing gloves, your hands won’t be able to tolerate such scalding water.
And, a hard scrub will just erode the sensitive coating of the pan. In fact, hand-washing has higher chances of bacterial growth because both your scouring pad and sponge are already filthy. Using filth to remove filth is futile.
Only when you sanitize your pots and pans can you ensure hygienic cooking. Eating in germ-infused dishes can invite a number of stomach illnesses. If you have little kids in the house, then you should take time out to sanitize your kitchen utensils.
Preventing the Spread of Germs
Regularly sanitizing will prevent the spread of germs from one utensil to the other. The bacteria-infested food or liquid particles spill on other utensils. All spills should be wiped off immediately because the longer they remain on the cookware, bacteria will flourish.
Even if your utensils are fairly clean, having a garbage bin in your kitchen is also a breeding house for bacteria. Eventually, you’ll have them lurking in the air, making your kitchen an unhealthy place to cook in.
If someone in the family has food poisoning, then the culprit could be the contaminated kitchen utensils. In order to avoid the spread of germs from one cookware to the other, it’s important to sanitize it. Soaking your cookware in a sanitizing agent is a sure-fire way to fight off the germs.
How to Sanitize Your Cookware
There are two common ways to sanitize your cookware – high heat or a strong disinfecting solution.
If you have a dishwasher with a sanitizing feature, you can always use that. However, there are always simple at-home remedies that do the trick.
Here’s how to sanitize pans.
The Hot Water Method
This method primarily uses extreme temperatures to destroy bacteria on your pans.
Start by thoroughly rinsing your dishes to remove all the surface food particles and germs. Then, prepare a huge pot of boiling water or fill up the sink with hot water from the tap.
Make sure the temperature is around 170 degrees Fahrenheit.
You can use a kitchen thermometer to measure the temperature of the pan. Try to maintain the hot temperature to ensure all the germs and bacteria are eliminated. Soak the dishes for 30-40 seconds in hot water. Put on gloves while you work.
Take the cookware out of the hot water one by one and leave them outside to air dry. Wait until they’re completely cooled and then store them safely in your kitchen cabinet.
Treating your pans in this manner a few times during the week will ensure that none of the bacteria survives.
Using a Sanitizing Solution
There are heat-resistant pathogens in your food that won’t necessarily die with cooking. Along with high-heat, treat your cookware to a high-strength solution.
Although there are many great sanitizing agents in the market, you can always make your own at home.
Begin by rinsing your pots and pans to remove food crumbs, dirt, and grease. You can even pop them in a dishwasher to save time.
Next, mix up a tablespoon of unscented chlorine bleach in one gallon of cool water.
You should avoid hot water here as it stops bleach-action. You can also test-strips to make sure that your bleaching solution is at a safe concentration to use for cookware.
Now soak the dishes in the solution for a total of one minute. When it comes to killing bacteria, researchers have found that the hypochlorus acid has pretty much the same effect as intense heat.
Using gloves, take them out one by one and leave them to air dry. You can rinse them once more to get rid of the lingering smell.
Additional Tips to Keep Your Pans Clean and Ready-to-Use
There are many ingredients in your kitchen with strong disinfecting properties. A baking soda and vinegar concoction, for example, can easily get rid of hard grease.
Baking soda is extremely abrasive and can radically slough off the hard grease and food residue. After rinsing thoroughly, you can soak the pans in hot water to kill off any lingering germs.
Cleaning Stainless Steel Pans
For tough stains, add some baking soda in hot water and soak stainless steel pans.
Let it sit for 10-15 minutes before gently scrubbing off all the food residue.
Cleaning Copper Pans
As a soft and easy-to-clean metal, simply pour some vinegar and salt inside the pan.
Use a gentle scouring pad and scrub off all the residue.
When using cast-iron cookware, you have to be extremely cautious about the seasoning. Most of them are already pre-seasoned to avoid the food from sticking.
Therefore, using any abrasive ingredients can erode the delicate, seasoned layer.
Instead, you can use a gentle concoction, which consists of a teaspoon of hot water and 2 tablespoons of salt, and gently scrub your pan with a dishcloth. This will retain the seasoned layer while ensuring that the pan is nice and clean.
Using Natural Sanitizers
Instead of resorting to harsh sanitizers and disinfectants to clean your pots and pans, try to use what’s available in your kitchen cabinet.
There could be many toxic chemicals in a store-bought disinfectant, which is more harmful for your kitchen. A simple bleaching solution or the hot water method is more than enough to keep your cookware free of germs and bacteria.
Don’t Throw Your Pans in a Dishwasher
There are a lot of cookware that doesn’t belong in the dishwasher. A cast-iron skillet is one of them.
If you treat it to the scorching water and harsh chemicals in your dishwasher, soon enough you will notice a layer of rust on the pan. When it comes to your cast-iron pans, always resort to hand washing, and sanitize them with a mild bleaching solution once a week.
Keeping your cookware, utensils, and kitchen surfaces free of germs is continuous work. It requires daily maintenance and attention to ensure that neither you nor your family is exposed to illness-causing bacteria.
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