You'll only need two ingredients for this easy DIY.

By Stacey Ballis
January 04, 2021
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There is a lot of conversation these days about how we are cooking and eating at home more than ever. People who previously subsisted almost entirely on restaurant meals, takeout, or heat-and-eat dishes are now cooking from scratch at home for three meals a day. For those of us who are used to cooking a lot, basic food safety and cleanliness is second nature. Big issues, like not allowing for cross-contamination between raw meats and other food items during prep or keeping things at a safe temperature, are part of a larger consciousness about cooking.

But what it really means to keep your kitchen and surfaces properly sanitized can be a bit complicated. The cleanser aisle is full of various products labeled as “countertop” or “multi-surface” cleaners, but which ones are good for what purposes, and how much chemical residue they may or may not leave behind is always worrying. Especially if you are home with a family, working and schooling all day, and have people who may or may not put a plate down before assembling their sandwich. 

On top of this, commercial household cleaners can be one of the most expensive items on your shopping list, and if you are cooking three meals a day plus snacks in your kitchen, you might have found that you are going through spray bottles of cleaner at a rate that is staggering and costly.

But a basic safe cleansing solution that is also wildly inexpensive is one of the secrets of restaurant kitchens everywhere. An ultra-mild chlorine bleach solution will kill any of the bad bacteria or microbes that might be lingering and it can be made at home for pennies. In any restaurant kitchen, you will find a combination of spray bottles and buckets of this solution, ready to keep surfaces extra clean and uncontaminated.

The most important thing about a homemade bleach solution is to remember to use a plain unadulterated food safe chlorine bleach, with no scents, thickeners (no “splash proof”), or other properties. Original Clorox is a good choice, just be sure to measure very carefully since a mild solution is totally safe, but too much bleach if accidentally ingested is toxic. The ratio here is everything!

The maximum safe amount of chlorine bleach in a gallon of water is one level tablespoon. This keeps the parts per million at 200, which is recommended for restaurant sanitation use. The minimum for effective cleaning is one teaspoon per gallon, which gives you a 65 parts per million solution. For me, I fall sort of in the middle. I use two teaspoons per gallon, which is slightly less intense than a restaurant-level solution, but I know keeps me in the solidly safe range. 

To mix your solution, begin with a gallon-size clean plastic container, and fill it with water. I sometimes just buy a gallon jug of water for ease. Add two teaspoons of plain chlorine bleach and mix well. If you are using a gallon jug, you can close the top and shake. Once you are confident it is well mixed, you can pour it into clean spray bottles, or other containers depending on how you want to use them. I will take a glass container with a snap-tight lid, put a stack of folded paper towels into it, and soak with the solution to make homemade sanitizing wipes. Some of it goes into spray bottles for surfaces. And the rest I will store as-is for use in larger jobs like cleaning my range top or range hood, when you want more of a bucket-cleaning approach. If you are wanting an extra measure of sanitation, you can spray surfaces and let it sit for ten minutes before wiping down for a little bonus boost. I will often spray my sinks and faucet after cleaning and just let them air dry.

Finally, be sure that you label your solution clearly and store in a cool dry place where you can keep it safely away from children and pets.

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This story originally appeared on allrecipes.com