If you were to ask most people what area of their home they considered to be the least sanitary, most would say the bathroom. Store shelves and television ads run rampant with products promising to clean, sanitize, disinfect and kill the germs in your bathroom, but is that really your biggest concern?

It turns out your kitchen is a hotbed of activity for bacteria and disease-causing microbes, so after you've cleaned the bathroom you may want to spend a little extra time in the kitchen, deep cleaning your ceramic tile countertops, and other surfaces.

What's Lurking in Your Kitchen?
According to the CDC, foodborne diseases cause 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospital stays, and kill 5,000 people each year; actual numbers may be even higher, as many intestinal issues are contributed to a stomach virus or flu. The bacteria lurking in your food can be attributed to a number of factors, including improper storage practices, lax inspection standards on imported products, and more, but the fact remains: once these invisible organisms make their way on to your ceramic tile countertops, cutting boards or kitchen sponge, it takes more than just soap and water to kill them.

Preventive Measures
Wash up. We're surrounded by microorganisms, and not all are harmful, but those that lurk on surfaces inside your home and out. Once they make their way to your hands, they can easily be transferred to your food and utensils during meal preparation. Wash hands thoroughly before you begin, and again immediately after handling raw meat.
Double up. Keep more than one cutting board on hand, dedicating one to fruits and vegetables and the other to meat products.
Chill out. Bacteria and other pathogens thrive on temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees; refrigerate perishable food items as soon as possible, and avoid thawing meat products on the counter.
Clean up. Run a sink full of hot soapy water before you start to cook, and toss in dirty items as you go to prevent the spreading of bacteria. Change dishcloths frequently, run your sponge through the dishwasher every other day, and avoid hand drying dishes, as towels continue the spread of bacteria.

The Definition of Clean
Cooking is a messy business, requiring the use of different oils, sauces, spices and fresh ingredients. However, before you lay these items out on your ceramic tile countertops, ask yourself two questions:
Are the countertops clean? Is the cleaner I'm using food safe?
Spraying and wiping down your counters after each meal is a great habit, and can get rid of the majority of the dirt, grease and grime laying on the surface. Unfortunately, bacteria and microorganisms can't be seen with the naked eye and aren't always that easy to get rid of, especially with ceramic tile countertops where each tile is bordered by grout, a porous material.

How to Deep Clean Your Ceramic Tile Countertops Use a penetrating tile and grout cleaner to get deep in to grout joints and clean and brighten your tiles.
Pour a generous amount of cleaner on to a clean dry cloth, and apply to your counters and grout.
Leave for 2-3 minutes to allow time to penetrate.
Agitate with a wet brush or scrubbing pad, adding clean water as needed.
Rinse very well with clean water to make counter food safe.
For more expert tips on how to care for your tile and natural stone surfaces, check out our FREE stone cleaning guide below!