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Hostel Kitchen Hygiene
Wash everything you use before AND after you use it.
It’s amazing how many people I’ve seen grab something off the shelf or drying rack and proceed to use it without taking a second look at it. (And then blame the traveller’s diarrhea on the place they ate at for lunch)
The world might never know.
You’re not in your home folks, you have no idea what other people’s standard of hygiene and cleanliness is.
It’s never safe to assume anything in a communal kitchen is sanitized.
I’m no Germaphobe…
…but salmonella’s no fun, and completely preventable. All you need to do is wipe a soapy sponge on that cutting board and paring knife before you cut your cucumber salad.
While we’re at it, don’t forget to wash the cucumber too!
Not only will you kill a whole bunch of parasites and bacteria that way, you’ll also get rid of a good portion of pesticides. Often times the running water itself can carry diseases, so also make sure everything dries well before you eat it. (or use bottled water, but that can get expensive)
Yes, this involves a bit of prep work, and you’d rather be out sight-seeing, but really, it’s just a half hour, and I’m sure your mom would love to hear from you right now. Ain’t Skype grand?!
When you’re finished cooking, you’ll want to:
Do the Dishes.
Here you might say:
Running a soapy sponge over a clean plate is different from scrubbing your mess off all the dishes. Be kind, be clean.
A lot of peeps have had the privilege of growing up with unlimited running water, even maybe a dishwasher.
In a hostel kitchen, you’ll need to do everything by hand, and you might have to conserve water too, depending on where in the world you are.
Also, it’s really nice for everybody if you don’t use the whole liter of soap on your personal batch of dishes.
So for those of you not familiar with how to properly, and conservatively, do dishes,
Here’s a Crash Course.
- Rinse everything first.
This gets all the big stuff and a lot of grease off the dishes, conserving soap.
The best way to do this while also conserving water is to fill the sink (or a container large enough to fit your biggest dish) with some water.
Start with the cleanest stuff, like drinking glasses (if they even need rinsed,) and end with the grimmest, such as the pan you just fried plantains in.
Your sponge needs no soap for this, you’re just physically taking food stuff off the dishes.
Now that you’ve rinsed and stacked all the dishes, they should LOOK clean, but most might still FEEL greasy.
You can now dump the water (according to what’s locally appropriate)
- This is when you can soap up your sponge and do it all over.
It’s way easier this time around though, isn’t it? Magic.
Don’t use too much soap though, or the next step will take way too much water, and twice as long too.
It’s better to put a little soap at first and reapply when needed than to soap it up until it looks like a bubble bath in your hand.
NOTICE: never, EVER, under any circumstances, use the green part of the sponge on a teflon surface. EVER.
- Rinse that soap off.
Before you do this, dump the water out of the bottom of the drying rack.
There’s no point in washing dishes just to put them in a slimy yeast/fungal/bacterial culture.
Once everything is clean, you can just keep the water running (not full force, it isn’t necessary) and quickly move through the whole stack, placing it in the drying rack as you go, knives facing DOWN so no-one cuts themselves.
I don’t care what some people say about bacteria collecting on the tips of the knives, they can go back to the first thing I said about washing things before using them.
It’s much more important to keep someone from slicing themselves on a hidden knife than the 2 germs you might get on the blade of the knife.
If you have the luxury of a double sink, or a friend, or both, you’ll get this done twice as fast!
- If there is a clean rag around, your next and last step is to dry everything and put it back on the shelf where it belongs, even if you yourself got it out of the drying rack.
An eye for an eye makes the whole world go blind.
If there is no clean rag, come back in a half hour when everything has dripped dry and put everything away.
Oh, and, heads up, this all works back at home too. Your running water might not be counted, but the world needs it.
This might all seem like a giant hassle, but karma is on your side my friends. Your efforts might go unnoticed, but your slacking won’t.
Do you have kitchen hygiene horror stories? Or tips I’ve forgotten? Or a personal dishes pet peeve?
If you missed any, check them out right here: