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Paul_M

Microwaves and disinfection of kitchen items.....

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Does anyone use a microwave to disinfect sponges, dish towels, wash cloths, and/or plastic cutting boards?

 

I don't have a nuker in my house......I would guess 90% or more households have microwaves.

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Microwaves heat water to steam. If you want to sterilize with steam you can do that with a pot and a steamer rack.

 

In order for steam to work effectivly it has to be under pressure. Many types of bacteria can survive 100C, the temperature of steam at atmospheric pressure. If you put steam under pressure it raises the boiling point of water which means steam temp is also raised.

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Autoclave Temperature and Time Pressure Chart

 

STERILIZER TEMPERATURE PRESSURE TIME

 

Steam autoclave 121 C (250 F) 15psi 15min

unwrapped items 132 C (270 F) 30psi 3min

 

lightly wrapped items 132 C (270 F) 30psi 8min

 

heavily wrapped items 132 C (270 F) 30psi 10min

 

 

Dry heat wrapped 170 C (340 F) 60 min

160 C (340 F) 120min

150 C (300F) 150min

140 C (285F) 180min

121 C (250F) 12hrs

 

Dry heat (rapid flow) 190 C (375F) 6min

unwrapped items

 

Dry heat (rapid flow) 190 C (375 F) 12min

packaged items

 

Chemical vapor 132 C (270 F) 20-40 psi 20min

 

Ethylene oxide Ambient 8-10 hours

 

As published by Jada, (Journal of American Dental Association)

Vol 122 December 1991

 

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Sponges and cutting boards I throw in the dishwasher. Towels, rags and pot holders I just toss in the wash.

 

 

Never really had a problem doing that.

 

 

But I guess if you don't have a dishwasher either that might be a problem.

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In order for steam to work effectivly it has to be under pressure. Many types of bacteria can survive 100C, the temperature of steam at atmospheric pressure. If you put steam under pressure it raises the boiling point of water which means steam temp is also raised.

 

Very true for bacillus and other gram+ spore formers plus some thermophiles. In his application of kitchen towels, etc., he has to beat salmonella, shigella, pseudomonas, e coli and other gram- critters. Boiling for 5 minutes should be fine. Ten minutes, even better.

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Very true for bacillus and other gram+ spore formers plus some thermophiles. In his application of kitchen towels, etc., he has to beat salmonella, shigella, pseudomonas, e coli and other gram- critters. Boiling for 5 minutes should be fine. Ten minutes, even better.

 

Mike,

 

Will that work for the gram positive non spore formers like staph, strep, enterococcus and listeria?

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Boiling for 10 minutes should knock down 2 - 4 logs for pretty much all non-spore formers. If you're trying to achieve "absolute sterility" it's not going to be easy in a kitchen environment. Follow proper canning procedures and that's about the best you can do at home.

 

Personally, I'm not worried about it. Dishtowels go in the washing machine. Sponges go in the dishwasher if they seem funky but are still in good condition.

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All the responses regarding sterilization temperature are correct. However, a main reason NOT to try to sterilize sponges, towels, etc. is that they are cellulosic in nature, and as a result a prone to catch fire if dried & overheated in a microwave oven


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Sponges get replaced, dishtowels get washed with laundry, cutting boards (plastic) go through the dishwasher.

 

Anything else (hard surface items) that for whatever reason need serious disinfecting, get scrubbed with dishwashing liquid, then get wiped down with a LOT of clorox or peroxide, then go through the dishwasher.

 

Am I doing it right ?

 

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I've been quiet on this thread so that people don't jump all over me, but......

 

There is SANITIZING and then there is STERILIZING....

 

Sanitizing can be accomplished with the various methods mentioned above (microwave, dishwasher, laundry, bleach), and by definition the surface or item is 99.9% germ free.

 

Sterilizing, on the other had, requires (by government definition) the surface or item be 99.999% germ free, and generally can not be achieved in a home or even restaurant setting.

 

And people are way to germ phobic anyway, it is starting to get ridiculous, and why you see more and more reports of people having reactions.........they are SO sanitized that their bodies don't have a chance to build up antibodies to the few things that inevitably WILL slip thru, and so get sick.

 

Obviously, you need to be sensible with sanitation, but you also need not go overboard or else you are just setting yourself up to be a "boy in a bubble"..........

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Toilet bowl: 3.2 million bacteria/square inch

Kitchen drain: 567,845 bacteria/square inch

Sponge or counter-wiping cloth: 134,630 bacteria/square inch

Bathtub, near drain: 119,468 bacteria/square inch

Kitchen sink, near drain: 17,964 bacteria/square inch

Kitchen faucet handle: 13,227 bacteria/square inch

Bathroom faucet handle: 6,267 bacteria/square inch

Bathroom sink, near drain: 2,733 bacteria/square inch

Pet food dish, inside rim: 2,110 bacteria/square inch

Kitchen floor, in front of sink: 830 bacteria/square inch

Toilet floor, in front of toilet: 764 bacteria/square inch

Kitchen countertop: 488 bacteria/square inch

Bathroom countertop: 452 bacteria/square inch

Garbage bin: 411 bacteria/square inch...

 

The FDA recommends mixing 1 teaspoon of chlorine bleach into 1 quart of water for a homemade sanitizing solution or using a commercial sanitizer to help keep kitchen surfaces clean.

By Miranda Hitti

Reviewed by Louise Chang

©2007 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved

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