How to Disinfect Kitchen Countertop
What’s your favorite place in your house? Mine is the kitchen.
Right from when I was a kid, I couldn’t resist the smell of good food. A plus for me staying around the kitchen is getting to taste the food before it hits the dining table.
The kitchen is great to be in as long as it is clean. If it’s not, it becomes unbearable. Using the kitchen makes the kitchen unclean. Food crumbs, oil, grease, and grime make the kitchen countertop unfit for use because it can quickly become a breeding site for microorganisms as a result of spilled liquid or food crumbs that fall on countertops.
A lot of other things can make your kitchen countertop dirty. It is a good practice –which I strongly recommend – to clean the dirt immediately. While this reduces the multiplication of microorganisms, it doesn’t get rid of them completely because it takes less than a day for one bacteria to multiply itself into a couple of millions. Just one bacteria!
In A Hurry? Here Are Our Top 4 Picks Of The Best Disinfectant for Countertops.
Now, imagine how big the number would be when you add other possible microbes such as microscopic bacteria, protozoa, fungi, and viruses to a list of intruders on your countertop. These are responsible for diverse illness, kitchen odor, and food poisoning but I brought some good news to you today – the perfect ways to disinfect your kitchen countertop.
This might not be easy to accomplish because it’s not the easy route you’re used to. With multipurpose soap and water, you can wipe your countertop clean, however, to disinfect the countertop, you have to do better. Cleaning is the easiest part of disinfection, trust me.
Although cleaning must be done as often as you use the kitchen, when it comes to disinfection, it could be scheduled to twice a week or weekly depending on your frequency of usage.
While cleaning your countertop will remove the dirt, it cannot remove the microorganisms because most of these microorganisms are too small to be seen, and to effectively kill viruses, fungi, bacteria, and germs from your countertop, you will need to disinfect.
So, how do you disinfect your kitchen countertop?
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to disinfecting your countertop. If you have ever walked into a kitchen showroom, you would know that there are a lot of countertop choices. You will see countertops made with granite, porcelain, Corian, stainless steel, quartz, soapstone, marble, a variety of hardwoods, and laminated boards. Each material is unique and should be treated as such. You must have this in mind whenever you plan to disinfect.
I can remember my daughter ruined a part of our countertop – unintentionally though – while helping me out in the kitchen some time ago. She used an abrasive cleaner we had in our previous home on our wooden countertop. It almost ruined my lovely countertop.
So, ensure you don’t make the same mistake my daughter made. I will take you through surefire ways to disinfect your kitchen countertop coupled with tips and insights on how to get the best out of any cleanser you will use.
As a plus, I will add some do-it-yourself stuff you could create with some of the tools and ingredients you already have in your kitchen. If you don’t have it yet, I am sure you could get it from an online store or local store around you.
Without further ado, I’ll show you how to properly disinfect your kitchen countertops.
- Clean – The first step to disinfection is cleaning. Cleaning is a preparatory process to disinfecting your countertop. I mean cleaning with soap, dishwasher, warm water, non-abrasive cleaner, lemon, and the likes. In a layman’s language, let us take cleaning as just the removal of dirt and disinfecting as killing microbes.
There are three basic things I normally do to clean my kitchen countertop. I clean off the residue, remove the stain, and protect the countertop by sealing. I will explain better below:
- Granite and marble: These are categorized as stone-like. Marble is more porous than granite. Do not use anything that can etch the stone to clean your marble or granite. Acid and abrasive cleaners will do your countertop no good, you could even strip the sealer if you use them. Mild soap and warm water are all you need to keep your stone clean. You can just do finishing with a microfiber towel.
To remove stains, I either use baking powder paste – just add water to form a paste – for oily stains and hydrogen peroxide for water-soluble stains. I allow the paste to sit for a while (the time depends on the type of stain, it could be a couple of hours or a couple of days). I just wash off the paste once I’ve decided it is long enough. Be sure to mark out or cover the paste so you don’t tamper unnecessarily. You should also protect your stone exterior every month or couple of months so it can maintain its shine.
- Soapstone: Any non-abrasive cleaner can be used to clean your soapstone countertop.
Soapstone hardly gets tough stains. Most of the stains I have seen on my soapstone worktop got out quite easily. My multipurpose cleaner gets the job done. If you spot a tough one though, you can remove it by gently sanding the countertop and applying mineral oil afterward.
Seal with mineral oil. Mineral oil protects the stone from stain.
- Engineered stone: They are easy to clean. With water and soap, you can clean your countertop made from resin-bound quartz crystal.
It is tough to get a stain on engineered stone. But if you spot one, use a glass cleaner to get rid of the stain. Even without you sealing it, engineered stone still maintain its sheen.
- Stainless: It is also easy to clean just like engineered stone. Keep anything that can scratch the surface away from it. It will not only ruin its aesthetic, it can cause rust. To clean it, use soap and water. Wipe dry with a cotton cloth.
Mix Soap, baking powder, and water to form a paste. The paste is good enough to remove all stain. Rub slightly in the direction of the grain and don’t scrub. Rinse with water and dry with a soft cloth.
Add protective later like lemon oil or stainless steel polish. Stainless does not need sealing, it only requires polishing.
- Wood: if you want to go homemade, you can use warm water and distilled white vinegar to clean off dirt. Else, use nonabrasive cleaner only to maintain your wood finish. Wipe along the grains of the wood, use a scraper or spatula gently to remove the deposit. Wipe your counter dry after cleaning.
Use salt and lemon to remove stains from the surface of your worktop. Apply small salt to the stain and rub the salt in with lemon cut in half. The juice and the salt will reaction will soften the stain. You can now remove the stain completely by cleaning the salt and lemon juice.
Once the surface is all dried up, protect the wood surface by waxing. I recommend you use a non-toxic, food-grade wax. This is to prevent stains from sinking into the wood. It also protects the wood from warping, cracking, and scratching.
- Laminate: Do not scour. I repeat, do not scrub. It will only ruin the finish. The best way to clean laminate is just to use water and mild soap with a nonabrasive cloth to wipe clean. Alkali, acid and abrasive cleaner are not good for laminate. You can take that from me. If after regular cleaning, you still spot some stain, use a mild abrasive like baking soda. Apply it with water and let it sit for a few minutes. Rinse and clean with a soft cotton cloth.
Laminates are sealed already unless you have scratched them. So you need not re-seal the finish.
- Disinfect: As you use your countertop, you sometimes expose the surface to food like raw meat. While the first step of cleaning has removed the gross filth, it is now high time we killed the germs. The steps to disinfecting your countertop are quite easy. Generally, you follow these steps although a more refined step might be used to suit your countertop.
- Get a suitable disinfectant: This is the first step to properly disinfect your countertop. Since the material of your countertop and your usage is unique to you and you alone, you have to pick a cleaner suitable for you. I do not advise toxic cleaners for your countertop. Though your food might not be in direct contact with the surface of your countertop, it is still better to be safe than sorry. Research the products that would be best for your kitchen. I would recommend some for you later in the article.
- Apply the cleaner product to your countertop: The method of application depends on a lot of factors. These include the type of countertop material, the size of the kitchen, and the type of product you are using. You should also read the instructions for each product you are using if it needs other additives, how to mix it with additives if any, and the best way to apply it. I always prefer spraying. You can use a spray bottle with most of the cleaners in the market. Spraying makes it easy to apply a thin layer to the surface without contact. It also allows me to apply the cleaner multiple time seamlessly.
- Wait: A lot of people skip this step. Unlike cleaning, you need to allow the product to sit on the surface for a while. Disinfection does not happen in an instance. It takes a little bit of time for germs to die. The same way you would allow stain remover to sit for a while to be effective, so also should you do with disinfectant. Just take the germs as an invisible stubborn stain. The sitting time varies with the product and level of disinfection that you want. The time could be as low as five minutes but I recommend fifteen at least.
One thing you must take note of is to keep the surface wet during this waiting period. Most of the disinfectants are volatile. Some will dry off in less than a minute. This is the main reason I prefer the spraying method of application. While waiting, don’t scrub. Scrubbing is not needed at all either before or after the waiting period.
- Wipe clean: It as simple as it sounds. Wipe the surface dry with a clean cloth. Remember to use a clean cloth. Some people wash all their effort down the drain by using just any cloth to finish the process. Ensure any material you use to dry your countertop is free of germs.
Tips to effectively disinfect your countertop:
- Make it a routine. Don’t wait until your countertop is covered in dirt, grime, and germs before you clean and disinfect it. It is always easier.
- Clear the counter. Take away everything you don’t need on that countertop. Replace them only after you have clean them and you are done with your countertop. Don’t let anything come in your way.
- Use disinfected cloths and sponges: for cleaning and disinfection, always use materials that are free of dirt and germs. You should change your clearing sponge after a couple of use. Use disposables if you can and dispose of properly after use.
- Use a non-abrasive sponge for cleaning and cleaning cloths or wipes for disinfection.
- Take note of the kill time written on each disinfectant cleaner package.
- Ensure your countertop is completely dry after each cleaning and disinfection. Moisture makes the countertop a breeding ground for germs.
- Clean your tools and materials. Before you put the reusable tools like spray bottles and clean clothes, clean them. Remember this, you have used them to remove germs – dead or alive. So you don’t multiply and transfer those germ, make certain it is clean before storage.
Now let me tell you about a few products I am familiar with.
- Easiest to use: Clorox Ultra Clean Disinfecting Wipes is my favorite when I don’t have enough time on my hand. Unlike some wipes, Clorox ultra is thick and textured. Though Ultra strength blue isn’t added to the brand name anymore, yet the product has not lost its strength.
Pros: it is very convenient for quick use. It is easy to use for both light and heavy-duty. It eliminates the need for tools ad material every time you want to disinfect. It is safe for most countertops, be it granite, wood, or laminate.
Cons: you must rinse off the surface used for food preparation.
- My choice for budget disinfectant is Pine-Sol all-purpose cleaner. To get this product, you will spend around twelve dollars to get one hundred and fourteen oz. (price is subject to your local market). It might seem expensive at first but when you mix it with the recommended amount of water, you would know you are getting the best value for your money.
Pros: The main reason I love Pine-Sol is because of the price. It has multiple variants when it comes to scent. It not only a good disinfectant but it is also a great cleaner. It cuts through even the strongest grease and stain.
Cons: The main downside is that it does not come in a spray bottle. You have to provide that yourself. Another con is that you must mix it yourself and you have to be careful you don’t mix out of proportion.
- Thinking of the environment, Seventh Generation Free & Clear All-Purpose Cleaner is the right choice. The name says it all. It is clear, free of scent, and it is multipurpose. In fact, this is my best natural cleaner. It is environmentally-friendly, it cleans and also disinfects. Although it is a water base, yet it has no trouble removing grime and grease.
Pros: it doesn’t have any dye or fragrance so you can rest assured it will not leave any trace behind be it smell or color. You can use it for all types of kitchen countertops. It is environmentally friendly.
Cons: you cannot buy refills for its spray bottle.
- For stone countertops, Stone tech Daily cleaner is the best. If you are a stone countertop lover like me –I would still pick a granite countertop any day- this cleaner is the best option for you. Stone tech has always been my go-to for cleaners, sealers, and disinfectants.
Pros: you can use it for all types of stone table tops. It is not toxic, doesn’t etch the stone and it helps the sealant last longer. You can get in a refillable container and spray bottle.
Con: it is not a very common product and most local stores don’t sell it.
You should look out for these features while choosing a cleaner
- Stain, dirt, and germ remover (its potency)
- Non-toxic cleaner (unless you needed it to do a specific removal)
- Easy to use(like spray or wipes)
- Fragrance (if any)
- After effects
The kitchen, especially the countertop, is a place of traffic and high usage which makes it vulnerable to germs and microbes. You must disinfect regularly just like you do to your toilet or doorknob.
Who doesn’t like a clean kitchen? Get to work and enjoy the beauty of having a spotless and germ-free countertop. Don’t just read this, be practical with it, and be sure to share your experience.
It is time to kill those germs!