How to Keep a Super-Clean House
2. Your cutting boards
Before you start chopping, it's wise to make sure you're 100% up on the danger of food contaminants. Pathogens that can hide in foods like leafy greens, potatoes, and berriesthree of the 10 riskiest foods regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)are thought to be responsible for 20,000 illnesses since 1990, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
Washing your food before eating removes some germs, of course, and cooking meat kills dangerous bacteria like salmonella. And you probably know it's smart to chop meats and veggies on separate boards. Still, almost 25% of food-sickness outbreaks are the result of kitchen mistakes, such as using contaminated cutting boards, according to Donna Rosenbaum, executive director of Safe Tables Our Priority, a nonprofit food-safety organization.
Simple fix: After washing all your fruits and veggies well, use your senses to help guide you. "We can't see microbes but we can sometimes smell and feel them," Schmidt says. If your food doesn't smell or feel right, throw it out. As for your cutting board, use glass or plastic, both of which are nonporous and most resistant to germs, says Laura Dellutri of HealthyHousekeeper.com and author of Speed Cleaning 101.
When you're done with the board, wash it in hot, soapy water, and then spray it with a mixture of one teaspoon of bleach to 16 ounces of water that you keep in a clearly labeled spray bottle, Dellutri says. Finally, rinse the cutting board again with hot water or toss it in the dishwasher. Got a beat-up board? Replace it. Bacteria can hide in a cutting board with lots of knife-cut indentations.