The Ultimate Guide: How to Clean a Meat Thermometer

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Last Updated on July 17, 2021

A long-time contributor to SeriouslySmoked. Jim has had a lifelong relationship with the art of grilling, passed on from his father and grandfather to him.  

A long-time contributor to SeriouslySmoked. Jim has had a lifelong relationship with the art of grilling, passed on from his father and grandfather to him.  

How to Clean a Meat Thermometer

Cleaning your meat thermometer after inserting it into uncooked meat ensures that you avoid a nasty bout of food poisoning. Meat thermometer sterilization is an often-overlooked area of kitchen hygiene but is absolutely essential to protect you and your family from food-borne diseases. However, do you know whether you’re doing it right, and do you know whether your methods are 100% effective?

It is crucial to understand how to clean a meat thermometer correctly and thoroughly to remove any microorganisms lurking in nooks and crannies on the device. These cleaning tips, including the best sanitizing products to use, enable you to cook a tasty meat dish for the family with complete peace of mind.

Why Should You Clean Your Meat Thermometer After Every Use?

The role of this kitchen thermometer is to check the internal temperature of the meat you’re cooking. However, if the meat you’ve tested is still internally raw or partially uncooked, your thermometer can become contaminated with harmful bacteria, like E. coli and salmonella. This is why you must sterilize the thermometer after every use. Whether you’re storing it away or checking the same dish a little later on, cleaning each time will eliminate contamination.

If you only use one of these thermometers to check the temperature of other foods, note that you still need to apply the same cleaning methods for optimum health and safety purposes. This is because these utensils can become enveloped in grease and other food microorganisms. If continually used without proper cleaning, the fat attached to the thermometer can provide false readings. This provides a potential health and safety hazard for the next time you test uncooked meat’s temperature.

Tips and Tricks to Clean a Meat Thermometer

If you’re used to the occasional, nonchalant wipe-and-go method, chances are there’s probably a substantial amount of accumulated grease and fat still lingering on your thermometer.

Below is a list of tips and tricks for you to try, all of which ensure your meat thermometer remains as sparkly and shiny as when you first bought it. But most importantly, these methods will prevent contamination.

1. Use a Bar of Soap

If you’re looking for a quick but effective home method, many chefs and cooking enthusiasts recommend rubbing your meat thermometer with a bar of soap. This removes the solid build-up of fats and guarantees a bacteria-free utensil. Ensure that you thoroughly rinse the probe to avoid a cloudy film, as this could compromise the validity of the readings.

2. Use Cooking Spray

This solution is excellent for removing those stubborn stains, such as smoke smears - especially on glass meat thermometers. Either douse some cooking spray or food-grade spray silicone on the thermometer probe and scrub thoroughly with a soft-bristled toothbrush, taking extra care to remove the stains as best as you can.

Next, wash the thermometer stem with hot, soapy water to remove any leftover spray. Simply rinse, and dry the thermometer.

3. Use White Vinegar

Many people have found the acidity in the vinegar is extremely effective when cleaning meat thermometers. Simply place a small amount on a cotton wool pad and scrub the entire utensil, but be sure to wipe dry before storing it.

This method is an effective alternative to chemical-based products, and there’s always guaranteed to be a spare bottle at the back of the cupboard.

4. Use Alcohol Wipes

If you’re not planning on putting your thermometer away, but need to give it a quick clean before testing your meat again, then alcohol wipes are a convenient solution to have on hand. Easy to use and providing effective sanitization, you should keep a packet under your sink.

Be sure to properly rinse your thermometer after wiping, and always allow the wipe to air dry for a while before using it to avoid oversaturation.

5. Submerge in Boiling Water

Want to know how to clean a meat thermometer the cost-effective way? Submerge it in boiling water. All you have to do is switch off the digital thermometer and hold the probe end in the water for a minimum of 30 seconds.

With the temperature of boiling water reaching a scorching 212°F, you can be sure that any bacteria left on the thermometer will be destroyed.

6. Submerge in Chlorine Bleach and Water

If you want to go the extra mile and ensure that the meat thermometer is sufficiently sterilized, this industrial method will do the trick.

To ensure the chlorine bleach is a food-safe solution, dilute the liquid in response to the bottle’s directions. Because of the alkalinity and chemical compounds present in this solution, the minimum amount of time you need to submerge the stem is 10 seconds.

Once you’ve removed the thermometer stem from the solution, be sure to wash it with soap and hot water. This will eradicate any excess residue and prevent harmful chemicals from lingering. This is an extremely important step because any carelessness has the potential to be hazardous.

You can use hydrogen peroxide as an alternative to bleach, diluting it at a 1:4 ratio of peroxide to water. Hydrogen peroxide is a common ingredient found in toothpaste and mouthwashes, so it is guaranteed food-safe.

7. Use Baking Soda and Water

To remove hard stains, many people mix baking soda and water. This mixture forms an abrasive paste that you can rub on your thermometer, to specifically strip away the stains.

Once you’ve covered the probe in the paste, allow the thermometer to sit for 10-15 minutes before scrubbing it off.


Jim Bob

Jim Bob

Improve Food Safety in Your Kitchen

When it comes to ensuring your meat, thermometer is perfectly clean for every use, be sure to use one of these simple sanitization methods. Not only will your readings be perfect every time, but you’ll also rest easy knowing that the meals you’re serving are safe for all the family.

It’s important to note that you should never attempt to clean your thermometer in the dishwasher. The high heat and rigorous washing action may damage it and affect its readings.