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Disinfecting Kitchen Spray for Cutting Boards, etc.

Does anyone know what an appropriate ratio of bleach to water makes a good spray for hitting the cutting boards, counters, etc., with after cutting chicken and other germy fare? I am trying to avoid commercially-made antibacterial sprays.

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  1. I'm not sure if this is "right", but what I use is one part bleach to four parts water. On the cutting boards I always rinse with hot water afterwards. The counters, I wipe dry. I have heard that Hydrogen Peroxide is a great anti-bacterial, but I haven't tried that yet. Good Luck! O=:)

    1 Reply
    1. re: Mermazon

      The standard food service mixture for sanitizing solution is approx 1 cup of chlorine bleach in 1 gallon of warm water. This is sprayed on any horizontal surface and left to air dry. It can also be used as a rinsing solution for knives and other kitchenware, but do not get it on wood handles as it will discolor them.

      It will retain its effectiveness for 1 week if stored in a spray bottle.

    2. I don't especially care to have bleach near my food, so I've always used a spray of white vinegar, which is a terrific anti-bacterial.

      By the way, a good rinse in hot water does the trick for most things - at least, that's my theory, and more than thirty years on in the kitchen, I've never had any kind of problem.

      White vinegar. Check it out.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Atlantis

        I've heard that about white vinegar too, but wasn't sure how much of the smell remained. Do you rinse/wipe things after you've used it? With the water/bleach combo, I've not had a lingering smell, so I was curious about the vinegar.

        1. re: Mermazon

          I keep a spray bottle of white vinegar in the rack above the sink, I spray the cutting board and the counter, and then I rinse them. Never any scent, ever. Just clean.

          1. re: Mermazon

            Experiment with varying small amounts of Peppermint Extract added
            to your Vinegar/Water solution for a pleasant & very natural after-cleaning

            1. re: JoelDC

              WAY cool idea. Love a toss of peppermint, or orange, or almond extract... just straight vinegar? No water?

          2. re: Atlantis

            Hmm I like this idea -- I already buy jugs of vinegar because I use it to clean my vinyl floor in the kitchen. I actually kind of like the smell. . .

            We are recovering vegetarians ( ha ha ) so I am a little meat-phobic.

            1. re: Atlantis

              Your hot water advice is extremely dangerous and irresponsible. Hot water does NOT rid your surface of dangerous bacteria and pathogens!

            2. Vinegar works fine as an anti-bacterial agent. It's effectiveness is diminished by sugar, temperature and the acidity of the solution however. Here's the science from NIH http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/qu...
              Ordinary household bleach works well too in a very mild solution and kills about everything, probably more reliably. It was used to clean government facilities after Anthrax attacks and scares a few years ago. With reasonable care, it's safe. You can use it to purify drinking water.
              The smell from both rapidly dissapates.
              Plain white vinegar is an astonishingly good cleaning product and has replaced half the bottles that used to take up space under my sink - and at a fraction of the cost. No need for rubber gloves. Better than those expensive so-called bio-degradable eco-friendly products found on the shelves of places like Whole Foods and Williams Sonoma.

              1. If my cutting board really needs a good cleaning I will generally just wash it good with soap and very hot water. If I'm lazy and in a hurry I will sometimes spray it with that Clorox Clean-up Spray. That's what I use on the counter, too, when I'm getting ready to roll out dough.

                1 Reply
                1. re: revsharkie

                  I am a hot soap and water person too and my cutting boards go into my dishwasher too.

                  Just a word about anti-biotic cleaners. If your home is on a spetic system do not use them. They can mess up the bacteria balance in your tank and you'll be in real trouble.

                2. The white vinegar works really well. I use it on everything from the counters to my stainless steel fridge to the floor. The smell goes away right quick.
                  I think the appropriate ratio of bleach to water is 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. I seem to remember this from cooking school.

                  1. I use vinegar followed by hydrogen peroxide for all my cleaning in the whole house.


                    1. Thanks for all of the replies you guys. I got a mega-bottle of vinegar and will ick some HP up later this week.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: gridder

                        Yeah, I use white vinegar on my cutting boards and on anything that touches raw meat. White vinegar works great in the wash as well. I pour about a 1/2 cup of white vinegar for each load plus some Tide detergent. Apparently, washing clothes with everyday detergent does not kill the germs on your clothes.

                      2. I too keep a spray bottle under the sink...but filled w/ maybe 1/3 white vinegar, couple of drops of dish soap, water and a few drops of lime essential oil. While the lime smell doesn't linger, it smells great when cleaning the counters/cutting board/etc. I use it for the bathrooms too.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: gourmanda

                          I've been interested in trying essential oils in homemade cleaners... Do they mix with the water-based solutions easily? Do you have to do anything to keep them in suspension? Do they clog spray bottles? They're so expensive, I've been wary about experimenting without knowing more.


                          1. re: Tartinet

                            I use about 5-7 drops in a 32oz. spray bottle so a little bottle lasts a long time. I think it was about $6.00 at the health store, I bought the mid-range brand as I didn't know one from the other. It hasn't seemed to clog the spray bottle though for some reason those bottles eventually end up not working for me no matter what's in them! Finally, the few drops of oil don't stay suspended, but giving the spray bottle a good shake disperses it long enough to clean the counters and I suspect the dish soap helps as well. Give it a whirl...if you get a mint or lavender you could always use it in your bath water!

                            1. re: Tartinet

                              I make homemade cleaner with vinegar, borax, castile soap, water, and essential oils. It doesn't clog the spray bottle at all. I just give it a good shake before I use it; I don't notice anything precipitating out, but I'm sure the oils don't stay emusified forever.

                              You might want to check out the germ-beater EO blend here: http://www.naturesgift.com/aromathera...

                              I love how the spice blend smells, and it really seems to make things shine. This is one of my long time favorite companies, too.

                          2. One more thing: Use wooden cutting boards. Wood naturally fights bacterial infections. Otherwise vinegar, as mentioned above, does an amazing job.

                            1. I no longer recall where I read it, but I keep a spray bottle under my sink and written on it, with indelible marker, is: 1-1/2 tablespoons bleach/1 pint H2O. I use vinegar for many cleaning chores, but always believed--and MankingSense seems to confirm--that bleach is a better sanitizer.

                              12 Replies
                              1. re: JoanN

                                The study Making Sense posted did not say bleach was a better cleanser than vinegar but that vinegar w/ the addition of salt was better than plain vinegar which is better than vinegar w/ a 10% sucrose solution. And, also that higher temperature was a good aid in vinegar as an antibacterial source. While small amounts of bleach won't hurt you, the cumulative effect of it is bad for the environment.

                                1. re: chowser

                                  The study posted was specifically about vinegar and was from the National Institutes of Health. It was intended to give guidelines so that people would know exactly how to use vinegar and how to dilute it properly.
                                  Bleach used in households in moderation is not harmful to the environment. Industrial use of bleach is excessive in manufacturing and is probably causing harm in the opinion of many and it is that which has caused many to stop using a safe and effective product for limited personal use. That's unnecessary as it can do some things vinegar can't do.
                                  The NIH study shows that vinegar will effectively disinfect kitchen sufaces and is an excellent alternative to chlorine bleach. It's a good choice. It won't do everything that bleach can do but it can certainly replace it for many if not most uses.

                                  1. re: MakingSense

                                    Well, it would seem that my 30+ years of using vinegar wasn't all that ill-advised, since no one has ever gotten sick out of my kitchens, not even close. It's just good, common sense, I think - bleach doesn't mix well with any of my recipes, and I'd rather have it safe in its cleaning context - when the heavy-duty cleaning is being done and lots of rinsing is going to follow - than in the simple "cleaning up after a meal" routine.

                                    If any germs survive my vinegar wipe, more power to them. They can have the leftovers...................

                                    1. re: Atlantis

                                      I really agree with you. Common sense is key and being a germ freak can do more harm than good.
                                      I have gone more and more to simple household products for cleaning. In addition to saving buckets of money, it has freed up huge amounts of space under the sink and in the laundry. Vinegar, baking soda, salt, ammonia, borax, bluing, old T-shirts for dusting. I don't think I buy 2 rolls of paper towels a year.
                                      I follow the Michael Pollan gospel of eating like my grandmother but have extended that to cleaning like my grandmother. Even the fancy, expensive eco-friendly cleaning products often don't work any better or even as well as the simple things.

                                      1. re: MakingSense

                                        Bingo. You sound like me. The cabinet under the sink holds only the most basic things, and I wish I could do away with the Cascade I use in the dishwasher, but, so far, that's what works best, so ..........

                                        The rest of it is so minimal and basic and cheap. Yes, Grandmom was right, and the stuff I've tried to use as a good, responsible eco-friendly American just never did the job that ammonia and newspapers (my window cleaning tools) do.

                                        As for getting laundry cleaner than Tide (that old standby), I am in the habit of throwing a couple of ounces of ammonia in just about every load. So far, no one has reported cooties, but, if they show up, they can join the germs in the kitchen and share the leftovers ...........

                                      2. re: Atlantis

                                        I'm in the same camp. I read a scientist talk about how using strong with using chemicals, you're just replacing one bad thing (bacteria) with another. The initial smell of vinegar kind of knocks me back but after that, it's fine. Plus, it's fun to add baking soda and make a fizzy scrub. It's cheap, safe and effective--what more could you ask?

                                        1. re: chowser

                                          hmm, i would think that adding baking soda to vinegar would destroy the bactericidal qualities of the vinegar

                                          1. re: choctastic

                                            My chemistry may be rusty but if the baking soda lowers the pH of the vinagar (and salt) solution, it would decrease if not destroy its effectiveness as an anti-bacterial agent.
                                            Sorry to ruin your fun, Chowser.

                                            1. re: MakingSense

                                              Yes, you're both right--it is the chemical reaction of the acid and base that causes the bubbling and neutralizes the acidity of the vinegar. But, you know, it gets the kids scrubbing so I can't complain.;-) I guess I could get around it by using much more vinegar than baking soda.

                                            2. re: choctastic

                                              That's a good point. But, the scrub works to get rid of dirt and I do follow it up with hydrogen peroxide which would take care a lot of the bacteria. I could do one more vinegar rinse but that would be overkill to me. It's not germ warfare on my countertops.;-)

                                              1. re: chowser

                                                a good scrub in the shower is dish soap mixed with baking soda to form a frosting-like paste. Soap scum gone in an instant. Leave it on the grout for a little while and then scrub....great!

                                                1. re: gourmanda

                                                  I thought you meant exfoliating skin scrub at first, and thought, "hmm, someone has sturdy skin!" Heh. Good idea, though--have to try it on my grout!

                                  2. white vinegar and hot water is great - and the smell dissipates quickly. there is no need for a harsh chemical such as bleach in a kitchen.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: jbyoga

                                      I like the smell of vinegar. Is that strange? Smells clean to me.

                                    2. I guess I'm alone here, in that I use anejo rum to disinfect my cherry cutting board. I may give it a scour with kosher salt if it's manky, but a little rum in a Misto is what a woodwroking friend advised me to use. Something about a sugar alcohol conversion helping to condition the wood. It seems to volatilize, there's not residual odor or taste.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: themis

                                        I never heard of this, and it sounds so yummy, but what about the sugar residue that remains? I mean, do you get all of the rum off? Doesn't that encourage the creepy crawlers, and does licking the rum off count (joke)?

                                        In the meantime, do you mineral oil the board? I do that to my bamboo cutting boards, but the Epicurean cutting boards - the ones I use most - just get popped into the dishwasher, and that's a gift in our house.

                                        1. re: Atlantis

                                          Er -- rum doesn't contain sugar. That's why it's alcoholic; the sugar is all fermented into alcohol. A bit of the alcohol may react with the cellulose to covert to a sugar alcohol which conditions the wood, but that's a different thing. It's not sticky.

                                        2. re: themis

                                          I almost do what you do except I drink some anejo rum before I clean my board with soap and hot water followed by a spritz of vinegar.

                                        3. So would white vinegar also make a good vegetable/fruit wash, followed by rinsing with water to dissipate the smell/taste? I know most people say just rinsing produce with water is fine, but I always feel I should do something more.

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: Low Country Jon

                                            A diluted solution of vinegar or chlorine bleach in water would make a good produce wash if you have reason to be concerned about what you buy. This is especially important if you are buying from organic farms that use manure on ground crops.
                                            This should not be necessary with produce from supermarkets as commercial produce is rinsed by producers as part of the supply chain. Rinsing at home with water should be sufficient.
                                            If you use vinegar, the smell will evaporate in a little while except for possibly some fruits and veggies such as berries and lettuce. When I lived in Latin America, we had to use permanganate as a disinfectent and the taste/smell never came out of some things. I finally found a supplier I could trust for some things and gave up the others until I returned to the US.

                                            1. re: Low Country Jon

                                              Yes, and if you add salt, it'll make it more effective, plus add an abrasive. It's very similar to the ingredients on those expensive fruit/veggie washes you can buy in stores.

                                              1. re: chowser

                                                How much salt? It makes good sense, the abrasive factor. In a regular spray bottle (the kind I use), how much salt should be added, do you know? Thanks.

                                                1. re: Atlantis

                                                  Sorry, I'm not an authority on it but I just swish salt and vinegar in a jar and then pour it over. I don't think you can add too much, as long as you rinse it well. Even if you don't, salt makes some fruits taste better. My brother is a chemical engineer and he had a good laugh when I told him I'd bought one of those expensive fruit washes which was essentially vinegar and an abrasive, like salt.

                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                    Good enough, and thank you. I'm gonna throw some salt in the vinegar, and, you know, it's on its way to being edible, come to think of it. That's actually the ideal!

                                                    Thanks again.

                                            2. Wooden cutting boards are petri dishes for unhealty microbial growth and insect larvae
                                              living in voids and between laminations. I respectfully disagree with andreas' reply above, that wood has some special way of fending off bacterial growth, until compelling science pursuades me otherwise. Am I assuming correctly that the "stink" we are ridding ourselves of in this thread is principally from wooden surfaces? It's a bit unclear. But impervious surfaces don't pose a lingering problem with odors and clean with relative ease. Some of the solutions presented above simply mask a smell. If your cat pees in a potted plant in the living room, do you fix the problem by burning incense? Cherry, oak and maple are lovely and look nice on the granite counters but I threw mine away after I intentionally broke one in half and saw what was going on inside there. And I am neither Oscar nor Felix on the anal neatfreak - slob scale; somewhere in between.
                                              Built-in wood surfaces can't be discarded but can be refinished with a durable, non-porous epoxy. If you are wiping wooden surfaces with vinegar and treating them with edible oils, you might as well plan ahead and buy the incense, too.

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: Veggo

                                                actually there was at least 1 study i remember from about ten years ago that showed that bacteria died on wooden cutting boards while they stuck around on plastic boards. this is proably what andrea is referring to.

                                                I use those flexible plastic cutting mats because they're light and you can cut and carry your stuff straight into the pot.

                                                1. re: Veggo

                                                  Veggo, you should re-evaluate your opinion after reading a report on the research of Dean Cliver from the University of California (Davis), a published expert in food safety and foodborne disease. He published a series of articles on the bacterial dangers inherent in cutting boards and methods of disinfecting them. He found that wood, reputed to be more bacteria prone and less easily cleaned than plastic cutting boards, actually proved to be more hygienic. If a sharp knife is used to cut into the work surfaces after used plastic or wood has been contaminated with bacteria and cleaned manually, more bacteria are recovered from a used plastic surface than from a used wood surface. Here's a summary of his finding with references to the originals:
                                                  Another source:

                                                  1. re: MakingSense

                                                    the cliver study is exactly the study i was referring to but i was too lazy to link.

                                                    --However, I think it's only a real issue if you're dealing with raw meat, which is the main way e. coli and other harmful bacteria would enter the kitchen. I still use plastic cutting boards but if I were to start cooking lots of meat I would probably reserve a cutting board just for that and clean it and all utensils used very carefully.

                                                    --btw guys, not all bacteria is bad. most are benign or even useful to you.

                                                    1. re: choctastic

                                                      Hmmmm. Not only an issue with meat. Remember anything lately about e. coli and organic spinach? One of the most common sources is people not washing their hands after using the bathroom.
                                                      You have to clean everything well. Scratches in plastic are hard to sanitize. Put the boards in the dishwasher regularly.

                                                      1. re: MakingSense

                                                        uh, I'm sorry if it sounded like I think people should leave their cutting boards dirty and unwashed if they're not handling meat. However, the likelihood that you'll contaminate your work surfaces with harmful bacteria (e. coli, listeria, salmonella for example) is a lot higher with say raw chicken than with a raw apple. I still think that people need to be especially careful when handling raw meat. I actually think that people are better about washing their hands than about handling raw meat.

                                                        also, e. coli in spinach is quite rare, which is why it was such a big news item when the outbreak occurred recently. Also, if you're going to get e.coli from spinach and you eat it raw, washing the cutting board is not going to stop you from ingesting the bacteria. even washing the spinach will probably not get rid of it. thus, washing the cutting board would not have prevented that outbreak at all.

                                                2. Thank you both for weighing in on a useful topic. I read the links carefully; I am a bit enlightened but not convinced. There are many roads to Mecca, and I will chop, slice and carve my way down the plastic one.
                                                  P.S. My kitty cat "Latchkey" was forgiven for his indiscretions and lived a happy kitty life.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                    Just make sure you sanitize the plastic boards regularly. Putting them through the dishwasher is a good idea. The scalding hot water helps get the bacteria in the scratches that you might miss with hand washing.

                                                    1. re: Veggo

                                                      yeah i read the studies years ago and then i stuck with plastic boards. why? i like them. also those new flexible cutting mats are really cool. i don't have a dishwasher so I have to handwash carefully when I deal with certain items, but i haven't had a problem. most bacteria isn't harmful anyway.

                                                    2. Thanks! That's a level of cleaning/hygiene one can't do with portable wooden boards.
                                                      Bon Appetit!

                                                      1. -----

                                                        I really recomend the commercial products as they are time tested for efficacy. What I am trying to say whatever bleach to water concoction you make- it can loose its effectiveness, or there is a remote possibility of becoming a contaminate itself, over time.

                                                        BTW- Have you ever seen a home made bleach/water solution ever mold or grow algae? I have!

                                                        Another way to think of it, is in maintaining a swimming pool. It is a constant fight to keep bacteria and other cooties under control.


                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: RShea78

                                                          This is why I've always been taught that you have to make a fresh bleach-water solution at least once a week, if not more often. It's not something you can just premix and use till it's gone.

                                                          On the other hand, how lazy are we if mixing up a little cleaning solution turns us right back to Clorox spray? Egads.

                                                          I'm solidly in the vinegar camp. Works well enough with minimal effort.

                                                        2. With respect... just use soap and hot water after cutting meats and you will be fine.

                                                          1. Hi!

                                                            I throw my cutting boards into the dishwasher (they're plastic). But, if they get stained, I soak them briefly in a beach solution that I read about on the USFDA website: 1 teaspoon of chlorine bleach to 1 quart of water.

                                                            Good luck!

                                                            1. The CDC recommends 1:10 bleach to water solution for disinfection of non-porous surfaces in laboratories and healthcare facilities. It has to be replaced on a weekly basis.

                                                                1. On the back of your Clorox bottle the formula is 3/4 cup to a gallon of water to disinfect. Rinse, dry then reoil.

                                                                  Or, use a 1:1 mixture of vinegar and water, flood the surface. let it sit, rinse well and dry thoroughly. Reapply oil.

                                                                  If you don't want to use chemicals, do what the oil time butchers did. Apply a layer of salt and let it sit overnight. The salt will kill any bacterial that is left on the cutting surface and it will also pull up any residual moisture from the wood making the surface even more inhospitable to bacteria of any kind. The next morning, simply brush the salt off.

                                                                  To remove stains; dab the stain with peroxide. The stain will lift gradually. Wash, rinse, dry and reoil.

                                                                  To remove odors; make a paste from baking powder and oil and rub the cutting surface liberally. Wash, rinse, dry and reoil.

                                                                  Hope this helps.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: BoardSMITH

                                                                    Thanks David,

                                                                    Can never be reminded to many times to oil your wooden cutting boards.