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Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

Cleaning up the kitchen after a natural disaster

Cleaning Kitchen.jpgDepending on their source, storm and flood waters could contain a wide range of germs, debris, chemicals and contaminants such as human and animal waste, trash, and hazards such as oil and gasoline.

That is why in the aftermath of a natural disaster such as a flood or tornado, kitchen equipment and surfaces require special attention.

“For your safety and the safety of your family, it’s important to thoroughly clean, or in some cases throw away, kitchen items and equipment exposed to storm waters,” said Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist.

Wearing gloves and other protective clothing will help prevent skin contact and irritation as you are cleaning and disinfecting.

Throw away wooden and plastic dishes and utensils that have come into contact with storm water because these items cannot be safely cleaned. For the same reason, baby bottle nipples and pacifiers also should be discarded.

Meanwhile, metal pans, ceramic dishes and utensils, including can openers, can be cleaned with soap and hot water. Begin by rinsing these items then sanitize them by boiling in clean water or by immersing for 15 minutes in a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented liquid chlorine bleach per 1 gallon of clean water.

“If the dishwasher is operational, run three complete cycles while it’s empty to completely flush the water lines before washing any dishes or utensils in it,” Peek said. “Be sure to clean cracks, crevices, handles and door seals of the dishwasher and all other kitchen appliances.”

Countertops may be cleaned with soap and hot water. After rinsing the surface, apply a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented liquid chlorine bleach per 1 gallon of drinking water and allow the surface to air dry.

For more information about disinfecting kitchen equipment and surfaces after a disaster, contact the county Extension office.

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REPORTER/MEDIA CONTACT:
Leilana McKindra
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
158 Agriculture North
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078
Phone: 405-744-6792
Fax: 405-744-5739
Email: leilana.mckindra@okstate.edu

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078
405.744.5000