In the 1960s I remember my Grandma boiling her kitchen cloths with washing powder on the stove in an ancient pan designated for this purpose. She used a pair of wooden tongs to get them from the pan to the sink where they were rinsed and then put on the drying rack. We could learn a lot from her.
In those days, people didn’t have paper towels or handy kitchen spray disinfectants, and earlier in my Grandma’s lifetime when she probably learned her household skills there was no money for a doctor, no antibiotics and so there was a genuine fear of getting ill, because even a simple infection could kill.
Why is hygiene important now?
Today, with the rising threat of antibiotic resistance, we may need to heed the hygienic practices of the past, and simply take a bit more care of ourselves to avoid illness. Two things stick in my mind:
- Boiling cloths – a great way to clean and disinfect cloths so that they don’t spread germs around the kitchen. Drying them also stops the germs from breeding
- Grandma telling me that before school, children had to line up and show their hands to the teacher – dirty hands meant no admission to the classroom!
I can imagine that could cause a few raised eyebrows at the PTA, but perhaps we could learn a bit about basic hygiene from our elders! Breaking the chain of infection can be done in very simple, practical and low cost ways, and the cost to our health is surely worth a little bit of targeted hygiene?
So on the subject of cloths, if you have to use one in the kitchen, have seven, one for each day, and wash them all in one go to save energy and time.
Here is Grandma’s recipe for cleaning cloths hygienically:
- Put cloths in a solution of water and washing powder
- Bring to boil
- Simmer for a few minutes
- Remove cloths with tongs so you don’t burn yourself
- Rinse carefully, again making sure you don’t burn yourself – final rinse in cold water and wring out
The heat kills the bugs, the washing powder cleans the dirt off the cloths. Dry cloths don’t breed germs.
After preparing raw meat, poultry and soiled vegetables (potatoes, leeks etc)
I would always recommend, if you are cleaning up after preparing raw foods that you use a paper towel and squirt of anti-bacterial spray or an antibacterial wipe to make sure you don’t pick up germs such as Salmonella, Campylobacter and E. coli on a cloth and spread them around the kitchen.