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5 Tips for a Cleaner, Greener Kitchen
Tackle Dirty Dishes
It’s easy to let dirty dishes pile up, but that’s a surefire way to fill your sink with germs. From used plates and silverware to dirt-filled rags, the sink sees a lot of grimy activity. Plus (if you do eat meat) there is the added concern of salmonella and E-coli from handling raw meat. The best way to eliminate the growth of germs and bacteria is to get in the habit of washing dishes right after you use them. Use a green, biodegradable dish soap like Method’s, and do not let the water run! The average faucet flows at 2 gallons per minute, so you’re wasting a TON of water if you leave it on while scrubbing. Regularly clean the drain (see above for a homemade solution) to flush out food particles. If you are blessed enough to have a dishwasher, rinse your dishes immediately, then place them in the washer. It’s best to run the dishwasher daily to avoid bacteria build up, but you should only run it when it is full or else you’re wasting a lot of water and energy. (For more information on the energy efficiency of hand washing vs. a dishwasher, our friends at Treehugger ran the numbers).
De-Germ Your Sponge
Reusable washcloths and sponges are definitely the greener choice for washing your dishes and wiping your counters, but they are hotbeds for germs and bacteria. In fact, the kitchen sponge is the number one source of germs in most houses. The moist, tiny crevices in a sponge that make it such an effective cleaning device are also perfect little homes for bacteria. Using a damp sponge just spreads germs from one surface to another. To avoid coating your dishes in bacteria, some people suggest soaking your sponge in a bleach and water solution, but that only succeeds in filling it with chemicals. Instead, boil your sponge for three minutes to kill germs between uses. You can also pop it in the microwave for two minutes, or run it through the dishwasher. For washcloths, let them dry completely after each use, as bacteria thrives in a moist environment. Washcloths should also be washed in the laundry machine and replaced at least once a week.
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