The packaging your meat came in is quite germy by the time your meal is cooked and your family has enjoyed the last of it. Even when rinsed thoroughly, the germs left on the packaging still present risks. Placing the packaging in your trash can is not ideal; you never know when a little one (or pet) is going to rifle through that bag looking for a lost toy -- and now the child and everything she touches is contaminated. Instead, rinse the packaging, wrap it up in a plastic grocery bag and place it in the freezer until you're ready to take the trash out for garbage pick-up.
Sponges and dish rags are like little germ apartment complexes -- all those crevices make perfect little homes. Don't clean your counter and cutting board with a rag and then use it to dry dishes. Don't do it! Instead, use paper towels paired with an antibacterial cleaning solution to clean your kitchen counter and sink after cooking meat. You can even use green cleaners like Method Antibacterial Kitchen Cleaner, Seventh Generation Disinfecting Multi-Surface Cleaner or Bon Ami Powder Cleanser to get the job done. Or, purchase disposable antibacterial wipes. While you're at it, clean other surfaces you or your family may have touched during food prep, such as the refrigerator, oven doors, and dials or buttons on the stove.
If you decide to use those sponges and rags, clean them often and thoroughly. You can wet the sponge and nuke it for two minutes in the microwave to kill the germs, according to WebMD, and put the rags into the washing machine set on hot, then in the dryer on high heat. And although you may keep your sponges and rags clean, you'll still want to replace them frequently.
Maintaining a sanitary kitchen isn't difficult if you know where and how germs hide and thrive. For lots more information on keeping your cooking areas clean and safe, check out the links below.
- Smith, Erin. "How to Clean a Wooden Cutting Board for Raw Chicken." Livestrong.com. July 28, 2012. http://www.livestrong.com/article/504330-how-to-clean-a-wooden-cutting-board-for-raw-chicken/
- "Food Safety for Home Cooks." South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. (July 6, 2012) http://www.scdhec.gov/environment/envhealth/food/homecooks.htm
- Mann, Denise. "Germs in the Kitchen." WebMD. (July 5, 2012) http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/germs-in-kitchen
HowStuffWorks finds out how often you should wash your coffee cup or mug to avoid germs.