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Food Safety Issues/Food safety/ Cleaning food surfaces


Hello,  Things are much better with my worrying about food born bacteria, I am back to the way I was!  Since you have such great expertise in the area, I'd like to ask you the best way to sanitize my countertops and sink after  working with raw meat like preparing chicken or burgers for the grill.  I keep reading that sponges are a "no-no", is there a solution or product that you recommend?  Is there a routine that is the best to kill bacteria so I can use the same counter and sink for fresh foods, such as cleaning lettuce?  Also, is the dishwasher enough to take care of my cutting boards, or should they be washed in the sink first?  Thanks again, it's so kind of you to share your knowledge for those of us who are not trained in this area.  Thank you!  Julia

Hi Julia,

Good to hear from you again.

The best way to clean countertops is first with detergent and warm water (dishwashing detergent in a little warm water is great) followed by a rinse of clean, clear warm water.  Then either spray or swab with a cloth a mixture of bleach and water.  The bleach and water mixture should be only 1 teaspoon into a quart of water -- do not be tempted to use more.  Then allow the surface to air dry.

Sponges are okay to use if they are cleaned and sanitized regularly.  The problem is they are used for a variety of chores in the kitchen and can then be the harborer of bacteria.  If you do use a sponge, be sure to clean it daily and sanitize it by soaking it for at least 1 minute in the bleach/water solution like you made above.

It's best to do the cleaning of fresh produce first before preparing raw meat and poultry. That way you avoid cross-contamination of raw meat/poultry juices onto produce that may not be cooked.  After prepping the meat items, be sure to wash, rinse and sanitize your sink area with the same bleach/water solution that you made above.

Plastic cutting boards are fine for washing in the dishwasher.  Wood cutting boards should not be placed in the dishwasher but simply washed, rinsed and sanitized using the bleach/water solution.

Take care,


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Carol Schlitt


I can answer questions on home food safety, sanitation and home food preservation.


I am a former Extension educator, nutrition, wellness and food safety, having retired August 1, 2010. I am a food safety instructor for the Illinois Department of Public Health, a ServSafe Instructor/Proctor and have my own company, Safe & Savory Solutions, Inc -

National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (Past President and current Historian), St. Louis Culinary Society.

BS - University of Illinois MS - Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville

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