How to Sanitize Dishes – Hot Water, Bleach or Something Else
Food safety is everyone’s concern. That is why it is important for people to know how to sanitize dishes and other items that we use in the preparation, cooking, serving, and storing of food. It can help reduce the chances of getting sick from the food that we eat.
A Word about Disinfecting and Sanitizing
Sanitize and disinfect are two words that people use when it comes to describing how they clean surfaces. Unfortunately, many do not seem to recognize the difference between these two concepts.
Sanitizing involves the reduction of the levels of unsafe microorganisms on a particular surface to predetermined “safe” levels. It underscores the fact that microorganisms are everywhere and that it would be almost impossible to get rid of them 100 percent.
Disinfecting involves the killing of “all” or most of the microorganisms present on a particular surface. There are no “safe levels” to consider. One can think of disinfecting as an upgraded and more intense version of sanitizing.
In the real world, we only sanitize those objects that do not often come in contact with harmful microorganisms. We also sanitize those that should never be subject to very strong and harsh chemicals. These can include dishes, food preparation surfaces, and cooking tools.
On the other hand, we disinfect surfaces that may be subject to continuous exposure to both the elements and germs. Examples of these include countertops, cabinet handles, and sinks. You will need a more powerful chemical to disinfect these surfaces.
How to Sanitize Dishes
Sanitizing dishes starts by removing any food particle or debris on the surface. Scrape the surface of the dishes before you run them in water. This will make it a lot easier to reduce the level of germs present on the dishes.
Using the Dishwasher
The best way to sanitize dishes is by placing them in a dishwasher that uses hot water as a sanitizer. The temperature of the water is enough to kill or inactivate the germs that may be in the dishes, kitchen utensils, and other items. You will only need to know how to stack these objects the correct way. There are also dishwashers that come with a sanitize cycle. These appliances use only food-safe cleaning agents to help safeguard your own safety.
Can you wash dishes with bleach? If you do not have a dishwasher, then a good alternative will be to use a chlorine bleach solution. Bleach kills susceptible microorganisms by disrupting their membrane proteins. Bleach contains hypochlorous acid and chlorine that can lead to the denaturation of the proteins. The effect is similar to cooking a whole egg where the egg white loses its translucent characteristics and becomes opaque.
In washing dishes with bleach, it is important to adhere to the recommended solution by the manufacturer. In general, you can add a tablespoon of household bleach to a gallon of cool water. It is crucial not to use warm or hot water because it can interfere with the sanitizing action of the bleach. If you are going to use it in sanitizing other food contact surfaces, you can start with a solution of ¼ teaspoon of bleach and a quart of cool water.
Ordinary household bleach is fine. However, if you want to be more specific about food safety, then you should pick a bleach for dishes. This will help you feel more confident about the product that you are using on items you use to serve food.
Soak the dishes and other items in the bleach solution for 1 to 2 minutes. This is enough to kill the germs on these objects. Always use gloves when handling bleached items as the solution can be very harsh to the skin. Remove the items from the solution and allow them to air-dry.
Always make sure that you have the correct level of chlorine in the bleach solution. The ideal ratio of chlorine to water is 200 per million. Keep in mind that chlorine can interact with minerals found in water. This can have an impact on the sanitizing capabilities of the bleach. It pays to invest in chlorine test strips to help you monitor the level of this chemical.
If there is not enough chlorine in the solution, do not add bleach. Make another bleach solution instead.
Using Hot Water
If you are not keen on using bleach for sanitizing your kitchen items, then you should opt for the hot water method instead. This method mimics the cleaning action of your dishwasher.
For this method to work, it is crucial to use water that has a temperature of at least 170 degrees Fahrenheit. Be very careful in handling dishes in and out of the hot water. Soak the objects for 30 to 45 seconds. Air-dry them once done.
A candy thermometer can help you monitor the correct temperature of the water. Remember that water temperature decreases with time.
How to Disinfect Dishes and Other Surfaces
Sanitizing reduces the number of harmful germs in your dishes to safer levels. However, if your goal is to kill or inactivate as many germs as possible, then you should aim to disinfect your items.
We know that disinfection is a more intense method of cleaning. As such, you can always use an ordinary household bleach and make the solution more concentrated. Use a quarter of a cup of household bleach instead of a tablespoon. Mix this in a gallon of cool water.
Immerse your dishes and other kitchen items in the bleach solution for a minute. The strength of the bleach will kill more germs than the sanitizing solution. This is how to disinfect dishes.
Given that you will use a concentrated bleach solution, there is a chance that you will have some of the chemical odor on your items. You should rinse these items very well before air-drying them.
There are two ways you can sanitize dishes. One is to use an ordinary household bleach, mixed with cool water. The other one is to immerse your items in hot water to kill the germs. A more convenient solution will be to use the sanitizing function of your dishwasher.