University of Florida

Cleaning & Sanitizing

Image of Washing HandsSince germs can’t be smelled, seen or even tasted. Keeping the equipment and surfaces you prepare food on clean is critical to preventing food borne illness. Soap and hot water may not kill all germs the correct sanitizing solution should also be used. Making sure all of your equipment and surfaces are clean is important but don’t forget the tool you use most – your hands.

The CDC cites three common household scenarios in which disease-causing germs can be transmitted by contaminated hands.

Hands to Food

Germs are transmitted from unclean hands to food, usually by an infected food preparer that didn't hand wash after using the toilet. The germs are then passed to those who eat the food.

Food to Hands to Food

Germs are transmitted from raw, uncooked foods, such as chicken, to hands; the germs are then transferred to other foods, such as salad. Cooking the raw food kills the initial germs, but the salad remains contaminated.

Food to Hands to Baby

Germs from uncooked foods are transferred to hands and then to infants. If a parent handling raw chicken, for example, doesn't wash his or her hands before tending to an infant, they could transfer germs such as salmonella from the food to the infant. Hand washing can prevent the transfer of germs in all three of these scenarios. CDC recommends vigorous scrubbing with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds.