Skip to content

Kitchen hygiene and food safety

Proper cleaning in the kitchen requires hot soapy water and a good scrub. 

It is important to clean all surfaces and chopping boards in your kitchen thoroughly with hot soapy water, to prevent harmful bacteria spreading onto food.

How to wash your dishcloths

Damp cloths, sponges and tea towels are perfect places for bacteria to grow. If they are not kept clean, they will spread the bacteria wherever you use them.

  • Wash dishcloths every 2 days.
  • You can use a hot wash in the washing machine, or boil them in water for 15 minutes.
  • If you’ve used a cloth to wipe up after raw meat or vegetables, then replace it immediately with a clean one.
  • If your dishcloth smells, then it’s definitely time to wash it.

Start and finish with a clean worktop

  • Always wash the kitchen worktop with hot soapy water before preparing food.
  • Wipe up spills as you go.
  • Clean surfaces with hot soapy water immediately after handling raw meat, poultry, fish, eggs or soil on raw vegetables.
  • You are likely to touch the fridge and door handles, the oven, the microwave, the kitchen tap and the sink area when you are preparing food. Remember to clean these well too.

How to wash a chopping board

Cracks and grooves on chopping boards can harbour bacteria, so it is very important to clean them thoroughly with hot soapy water.

  • Always wash your chopping board with hot soapy water after each use and be sure to scrub off any food or bits of dirt.
  • Washing properly is very important if you have used the board to cut raw meat, poultry, seafood or raw vegetables.
  • If possible have separate chopping boards for raw meat, raw vegetables and for ready-to-eat food such as salad, bread or fruit. 
  • Never put ready-to-eat food on a surface that raw meat has touched.
  • Immediately give chopping boards or surfaces that have touched raw meat a good scrub with hot soapy water.  
  • A hot wash in the dishwasher is a very good way to clean plastic chopping boards – always check that they are dishwasher safe. However a good scrub in the sink with hot soapy water will do the same job.

Cooking utensils

  • Be very careful to wash any utensils that have touched raw meat before using them again. 
  • Wash utensils in hot soapy water or in the dishwasher.

 The fridge 

  • Clean your fridge regularly, especially the fridge handle, shelves and storage compartments.
  • Wash all surfaces thoroughly with warm, soapy water, then rinse clean.
  • Avoid using cleaning products that may pass on taste to food, or damage your fridge’s interior finish or door seals.
  • Wipe up spills immediately.
  • Dry thoroughly with a clean towel or kitchen roll.
  • Once a week throw out foods that have passed their ‘use-by’ date.

Related pages

Safefood Logo

Sign up for our family focused healthy eating and food safety news.

Safefood logo

The site content is redirecting to the NI version.