Since the well-being of the family may be said to revolve round the kitchen, some basic ground rules are essential for maintaining it in as hygienic a manner as possible.
Depending on the size and space available, the age of the kitchen and the money to spare, large appliances will usually consist of cooker, sink unit, refrigerator/freezer, a washing machine or some appliance for assisting in the laundry process. There may also be items in the luxury bracket such as a dishwasher, tumble drier or freezer. All these are potential germ traps even, surprisingly, washing machines, and a regular routine is required to keep them clean.
Cookers Turn off electricity or gas.
Half-fill the sink with very hot water and enzyme detergent — marvellous for dissolving burnt-on food.
Remove all shelves, trays, grill pan burners and soak in sink. Rinse, dry and replace.
Wipe all enamel parts with damp cloth and cream cleanser. Rinse well.
If oven is very dirty leave cleaner on all night. Rinse off thoroughly and dry.
Toughened glass in oven doors can be cleaned with a nylon scourer and cream cleanser.
Solid fuel cookers
Wipe spills at once. Use cream cleanser on all enamel parts. Rinse off carefully.
If enamel is really dirty, try soap-filled pads, but avoid using on plastic or aluminium.
Brush out oven regularly.
Hot water and washing-up liquid is enough for general cleaning. Stainless steel and enamel sinks should be cleaned with a cream cleanser or special stainless steel cleaner to avoid scratching surface.
A handful of soda and a capful of liquid bleach washed down the drain at regular intervals will help dissolve grease, kill germs and reduce smells.
Do not overload the fridge with food as this prevents circulation of air.
Cover all food to prevent food smells from circulating and penetrating other foods.
Never leave the door open as this will cause the motor to work overtime thus building up more frost.
Defrost regularly — speed up the process with a bowl of hot water.
Never leave the door closed when the refrigerator is switched off — it will smell dreadful and mould may grow.
Don’t use disinfectant. A solution of soda and water will deodorize the interior. Apply on a soft cloth, and rinse with clear water. Never use harsh abrasives on a refrigerator interior.
Inspect the refrigerator regularly for forgotten dishes of food.
Larders Do not put away bottles or jars with drips on them —these will make jars and shelves sticky.
Clean shelves, cans and any containers regularly with warm water and detergent.
Clean floor with liquid floor cleaner.
Regularly wash out cake, biscuit and other storage tins or boxes.
Try to keep a check on date-stamping and move older cans, packets, etc. to the front of the shelves, for using first.
Kitchen floors collect dirt very quickly. Gaps between units and appliances can harbour germs from scraps of dropped food. Pastry, vegetable peelings, coffee beans, breadcrumbs can all find their way on to the floor, so regular sweeping is necessary followed by a wash with a squeezy mop and a suitable cleaner.
These need regular wiping as working tops and doors get stained and finger marked. Do not use harsh abrasives on plastic or paintwork as these will scratch the surface and attract more dirt. Use scouring creams or disinfectant/cleaners.
A half-yearly turn-out of cupboards can be very rewarding. You will be surprised to find things you thought you had used. Cupboards containing small equipment also benefit from a regular turn-out to check that things have not rusted through being stored while damp. Make sure that shelves are dried before replacing their contents. Ful drying to avoid rust. Nonstick pans also need special care. Avoid harsh abrasives and scourers as these will destroy the surface. Do not put a cold pan directly on to a hot surface or burner.
Do not use metal spoons on iron or non-stick surfaces as these will also damage the surface.
Aluminium pans Use wooden spoons and avoid soda and harsh scourers. Don’t put hot pans straight into water, as they could buckle.
Discoloured pans benefit from lemon rinds, or vinegar, and water boiled up for a few minutes in them.
Copper pans These are lined with silver, nickel or tin. Use wooden spoons and avoid harsh abrasives as these might wear away the surface. Unlined copper develops verdigris which is poisonous.
Ovenproof dishes/casseroles Check that they are not only ovenproof but also ‘flameproof’ before you put them on a gas ring. If they don’t actually say ‘flame-proof’, chances are they are not.
Always put on to a wooden board when hot — the sudden change from a hot to a cold surface could crack the dish. Soak in a biological solution before washing.
Any food containing acid — e.g., vinegar, lemon juice — and egg and salt can mark cutlery, other than stainless steel, so wash as quickly as possible. Don’t leave silver spoons in pickle jars, or they will tarnish permanently. Do not soak bone-handled knives in water. Cooking knives may not be stainless steel and will need to be cleaned with steel-wool pads.
China and glass
Vases and decanters that are stained respond well to being left overnight in household bleach or a warm enzyme detergent solution.
Tea stains on cups can sometimes be removed with a hot solution of soda and water.
Wood Scrub chopping boards in the direction of the grain. Do not soak or dry near heat or they may warp. Wipe teak salad bowls with kitchen paper and cooking oil to preserve the wood.
SMALL APPLIANCES AND UTENSILS
Saucepans and frying pans An overnight soak with a warm solution of enzyme detergent will remove burnt-on food. Wash new pans, casseroles, etc. with warm sudsy water before using for the first time.