Some things you do to clean your kitchen actually adds to the mess, and spread germs. Here are some “clean” habits that are making your kitchen dirtier and what you should be doing instead:
- Rinsing raw meat and chicken before cooking - Sure, it seems like a good way to get rid of bacteria, but experts recommend against it. When you rinse them, you’re causing water and bacteria to splash on the counter and around the sink. Instead, just cook chicken and meat to the proper minimum internal cooking temperature, which should destroy any lingering bacteria.
- Returning leftovers to the fridge - If the food has been sitting out at room temperature for over two hours, bacteria can thrive and lead to foodborne illness. And if it’s left out at temperatures over 90-degrees, that bacteria can multiply in just an hour. In either case, just toss the leftovers instead.
- Putting a clean knife in the knife block - You’re probably thoroughly cleaning your knives, but when you put them back in the knife block, you’re recontaminating it because the knife block is a perfect environment for yeast and mold to grow. To clean it regularly, take all the knives out, turn it upside down and shake it to get crumbs and debris out. Then wash it in warm, soapy water and use a small brush to scrub the slots, rinse in cool water and then sanitize it in a mixture of water and bleach.
- Checking the color of chicken or meat for doneness - Eyeballing the meat to see if it’s done may seem like it works, but according to the USDA, one out of four hamburgers turn brown in the center before reaching a safe cooking temperature. So, you’re better off using a thermometer to check the internal temperature. As a rule of thumb, chicken should be cooked to 165 degrees, ground beef to 155 degrees and steaks to 145 degrees.
- Quickly cleaning your blender - Think you’re cleaning your blender properly? The 2013 NSF International Household Germ Study found that 36% of blender gaskets contain traces of salmonella and 43% of them carry mold or yeast. To make sure yours isn’t one of them, before washing it, completely take it apart, including the blade and gasket at the bottom. If the parts are dishwasher safe, run all the separated pieces through after every use. Otherwise, hand wash them in hot soapy water and dry them before re-assembling.