I'm aware of a number of ways for sanitizing.

  • Soap.
  • Ammoniac.
  • Bleach.
  • Sodium bicarbonate.

Which of these is the preferred method of sanitation? Which concentrations are recommended? How can you test whether the levels of concentration are correct?

  • This site has to stay focused on culinary techniques. Cleaning your refrigerator and brushing your teeth are not on topic for this site. I have to close as off topic. Sorry. Commented Sep 12, 2010 at 14:39
  • 1
    Food safety should not be an off topic. There are questions about sanitation that have not been closed. This question has been restated to be more on topic. Commented Sep 14, 2010 at 14:40
  • (Belated comment) The edited question is now pretty well kitchen-focused, so I've reopened it.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Sep 15, 2010 at 0:51

4 Answers 4


Another route for day to day cleaning is vinegar. I use a spray bottle with half white vinegar and half water at night on my counter tops before bed. (Use soap after cooking or prepping.)

The vinegar does a good job cleaning bacteria, mold, and germs. Once you get accustomed to the smell of vinegar, you will realize it deodorizes after the vinegar smell goes away.

A nice touch is rubbing a lemon on the counter beforehand, but it really doesn't do much other than smell nice and break down oil.

  • +1 for vinegar- in many tests it outperforms commercial cleaners and is both cheaper and safer. It's what we use- although the smell could be quite a deterrent. Commented Sep 15, 2010 at 13:28
  • I remember there was a (lifehacker?) post about its uses a bit back; the two best being its standing use in a bowl, 1) leave a cup of vinegar in a bowl in a spot with odors (fridge, bathroom) and it will kill the odors after awhile, and 2) to clean your microwave, nuke a half cup in the microwave for a pre-degreaser
    – mfg
    Commented Sep 16, 2010 at 12:34
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    Soap, Rinse, Dry. Then 50% vinegar/water. Lemon optional. Sounds good to me. Commented Sep 16, 2010 at 14:01
  • Some bacteria like acid environments, so vinegar will not kill them at all. What vinegar does is help dissolve the oils and fats, which remove the food supply for bacteria to multiple in. There are hundred of studies on bacteria cleaning in hospitals and surgical scrub stations, these always use soap, brushes, and mechanical scrubbing to remove bacteria, not a weak acid!
    – TFD
    Commented Dec 26, 2010 at 21:24
  • @tfd you are correct however I'm not trying to breed staphylococcus on my countertops ;) vinegar is just a nice mild cleanser/deodorant for after doing dishes and does not replace regular scouring
    – mfg
    Commented Dec 27, 2010 at 20:42

For the family home kitchen don't sanitise your kitchen, you are wasting your time

Just use "elbow grease" and a little of the same detergent you wash your dishes in on a plain cloth. You want to mechanically remove food, oil, and fat from work surfaces. The cloth gets washed with your hot towel laundry. Remember the knobs and dials on appliances and handles of cupboards and the fridge too

Anything more is just cosmetic. All you need to do is mechanically remove food, oil, fat and water so bacteria can't multiply

Also if you don't change your cloths and towels with each cooking session you are really wasting your time trying to sanitise the kitchen anyway

You cannot 100% kill bacteria without using chemicals unsafe for humans and pulling apart your kitchen. And then an hour later it will be dirty again because the breeze brought something in, or you have shoes on that have been outside!

Your kitchen will be full of your families bacteria if cleaned this way. These bacteria are compatible with you body, and should not become a risk unless allowed to grow in large numbers. These bacteria will compete for food with any new imported bacteria, so you don't want to wipe them out (not that you can). They can help stop imported pathogenic bacteria from establishing themselves

  • Shouldn't you sanitize after prepping raw meat? That can introduce new and dangerous pathogens into your kitchen. Commented Oct 3, 2014 at 18:28
  • No. Raw meat handled and stored properly should not have sufficient bacteria to overcome your family bacteria. Any food not handled or stored correctly can become toxic, not just meat
    – TFD
    Commented Oct 4, 2014 at 3:19

Soap and water on everything that could conceivably come into contact with food. So... all food preparation surfaces, walls a good 2-3 feet (60cm-1m) up and down from prep areas. Everything in between.

Then spray everything with a commercial sanitizing product, such as a multi-quat foodsafe santizer.

  • @roux - where does one buy a multi-quat foodsafe sanitizer - a restaurant supply store, or can you get one as a home cook?
    – justkt
    Commented Sep 15, 2010 at 13:36
  • at work we get ours from Ecolab. Their website should list local distributors I think?
    – daniel
    Commented Sep 15, 2010 at 17:34

MY preferred method (and for the establishments I have worked) has been to clean using soap and water, then sanitize using either a commercial product, or a bleach and water solution.

If you are going to immerse items to be sanitized, you should use 1/4 cup of bleach per gallon of water. Item should stay in solution for a minimum of 2 minutes. Air dry.

If you want to spray sanitizer onto items, like counter tops, use a solution of 1 tablespoon bleach per gallon of water. Sanitizer should be in contact with surface for 1 minute. Air dry.

If you don't want to air dry, rinse the item and dry with a clean towel.

Due to comments below, I searched for something to back up my statements. The guidelines I stated are from the CDC, and I apparently remember them from when I was worked in childcare (in which we prepared foods). Here is a page that should clarify.


Hopefully someone can make this into a "cleaner" link with a clickable text, as I am not sure how to do that.

  • 1
    This one surprised me a bit. I would have expected that you'd want a more concentrated solution for spraying. Is the reason for using a lower spray concentration just that you'll tend to use more of it per individual item?
    – Aaronut
    Commented Sep 15, 2010 at 0:52
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    I'm also confused by the 1 minute contact for the weak solution vs. 2 minute contact for the strong solution. Note that the Clorox website recommends 3/4 cup and 5 minute contact... Although they may have a vested interest in encouraging stronger solutions ;-P
    – Shog9
    Commented Sep 15, 2010 at 1:32

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