I would never prepare food on a countertop without cleaning the counter off first. I clean it after I'm done using it and before. I thought that was just standard practice. However, I don't go to town with bleach or anything. I wipe it down with a warm, soapy, clean dish cloth. I know that doesn't kill all germs, but we rarely get sick, so I don't see the point. With the stuff cats walk around in, I would be much more obsessed with sterility.