Worried about bacteria in the kitchen? Here are four tips for cleaning it up:
MICROWAVE: Dean Cliver, a professor of food safety at the University of California, Davis has carried out numerous studies on the cleaning properties of microwaving. A one-minute high-powered blast can keep your sponges and dish cloths sterile. However, he warns that it doesn't work for natural sea sponges. ''People think natural is better but it's not always the case,'' he said.
WASH YOUR HANDS: Cliver says he has never seen convincing evidence that hot water works better than cold water for washing your hands. ''It feels better but washing your hands in cold water should work just as well,'' he said.
DON'T RINSE CHICKEN: Chicken is so notorious for spreading salmonella and other harmful bacteria that the USDA is no longer recommending that you rinse it in the kitchen sink. ''The water splashes and its spreads problems to other parts of the kitchen that won't be as easy to get to,'' says Professor Cliver. Eighty percent of chicken carry potentially harmful bacteria, and any surface that comes in contact with it should be washed thoroughly, said Professor Elizabeth Scott of the Simmons Center for Hygiene and Health in Boston.
TOSS IT: Scott recommends that food spills and juice should be wiped up with a paper towel and dumped. That avoids contact with a bacteria-infected sponge or dish cloth where the bacteria will feed on the food and drink supplied.
DON'T DROWN IN CHEMICALS: Scott believes in ''targeted hygiene.'' ''We should use discretion when spraying chemicals, even if they are FDA-approved and non-toxic,'' she said. ''There's not much point in spraying your windows with anti-bacteria spray.''