Warm, soapy water plus some elbow grease is technically the only DIY cleaning solution you need to prevent the growth of most illness-causing bacteria on kitchen surfaces. Before and after food preparation, simply scrub counters, sinks and cutting boards with hot, sudsy water for at least 20 seconds, then rinse well. Wipe dry with a clean towel or let air-dry.

For added assurance after preparing raw meat or as part of a weekly deep-clean routine, you can sanitize with distilled white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide or a homemade bleach solution. Pour full-strength vinegar or hydrogen peroxide solution into a spray bottle, evenly spritz onto the surfaces and let stand for 10 minutes. (Skip vinegar and peroxide if you have granite or marble countertops-they're acidic and will etch into the pores of the stone over time.)

To make a bleach solution, combine just 1/2 teaspoon liquid chlorine bleach with 2 cups water in a spray bottle; spray on the surface(s) and let stand 1 minute. (The amount of bleach at this concentration is effective enough to kill bacteria, but not strong enough to bleach fabric.) Chlorine quickly dissipates in homemade bleach solutions; store in a dark place and replace weekly to guarantee effectiveness.

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