There’s a ceramic plaque that hangs above my kitchen sink that I take very seriously. I hung it up there when I moved into my house seven years ago and it’s the motto behind my method, or lack thereof. It reads: “This house is clean enough to be healthy but dirty enough to be happy.”
I think of that motto when I see the blackberry stains in my white(ish) sink that seem to cling there for life. Or the tiny dots of tomato sauce spray I suddenly spot at the back of my stove. Or the layer of crumbs that line up every morning underneath my four-slice toaster that I don’t always remember to wipe away in the get-the-kids-dressed-and-out-the-door-oh-no-I’m-interviewing-someone-at-8 a.m. craziness that is our house every morning.
But I’m now thinking…hmmm, maybe my house isn’t clean enough to be healthy? A new study from Los Angeles County that appeared in a Centres for Disease Control (CDC) publication shows that one in seven home kitchens would fail the kind of cleanliness test or standards applied to restaurants. The study, which was in the form of a self-assessment questionnaire in which 13,000 adults responded, notes that if home kitchens were put to the test and given a grade, only 34 per cent would receive an A while about 14 per cent would earn a C. Ick. I’m pretty sure I’m in that 14 per cent.
Don’t get me wrong—I wipe down my kitchen as often as a full-time working mom with two children under five years can. And once every few months I spring for some cleaners to come in for a deep clean. At the same time, having suffered food poisoning a few times in my life (the first time on my honeymoon!), I know I should attempt to keep it cleaner with a bit more elbow grease, as my mom used to say.
So I’m going to take a page from what I see the various daycares my children have been in do and I always thought was a clever idea—pick up a spray bottle that I can keep cleaning solution in, right on my kitchen counter. That way it’s within arm’s reach and toteable to do the dining room table too. Only I’d prefer to keep chemicals to a minimum, so I think I’ll top mine up with a solution of vinegar and water to give the kitchen the hose down regularly.
Did I mention I have white cupboards and little kids who don’t always remember to wash their hands after eating those blackberries? Please, please let that vinegar work.