Sterilizing utensils is necessary for safe food handling practices. This is particularly true when you are using knives or other utensils when preparing raw meats and vegetables. Avoiding cross-contamination while you are cooking and serving food is one of the best strategies you have to prevent foodborne illness. Two methods of sterilization can be used in the absence of a dishwasher or commercial sanitizer.


Boiling Method

Use a stockpot or saucepan that is large enough to hold the utensils you need to sterilize. Fill the pot or pan with enough water to fully cover the utensils, which you will add in Step 2. Place a lid on the pot and heat the water to a rolling boil.

Carefully place the utensils in the boiling water, cover the pot and continue boiling for five minutes. Be careful not to let the water boil off completely; add more if necessary.

Turn the heat off after five minutes and remove the lid, using hot pads. Be careful of the escaping steam.

Allow the water to stop boiling and carefully remove the utensils from the water. You can use tongs for this purpose, or drain the water in a colander and use cold water to cool the utensils.

Place the utensils on a drying rack to air dry. If you need the utensils right away, dry with paper towels or a clean drying towel, and be sure to wash your hands before touching.

Three-Step Method

Fill three dish tubs with warm water. Use a mild dish soap in the first tub, plain water in the second tub and a bleach solution in the third. The bleach solution consists of one tablespoon of bleach per gallon of water.

Place the utensils in the first tub of warm, soapy water and wash thoroughly.

Rinse the utensils in the second tub of clean water, getting as much soap off as you can.

Sanitize by placing in the third tub and allowing to soak for at least two minutes.

Place the utensils on a drying rack or dry by hand, making sure to use clean cloth or paper towels.