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Keep Your Kitchen Clean and Green

by Rebecca Reynolds

There are few places in your home where clean matters more than your kitchen. We prepare our food there, eat there, and, so often, it is the room where everyone gathers and lingers most. Unfortunately, according to the Hygiene Council, it is also the dirtiest room in the house.
Consider the bad habits that most people practice without giving it much thought. Using a cutting board for both meat and veggie prep. Keeping a sponge by the sink. Going from food prep to turning on lights, opening cabinets, drawers and refrigerator without washing your hands. Resting cooking utensils on your stove top or in a spoon rest.
Without realizing, we could be exposing our families to common germs such as Influenza A, H1N1, Rhinovirus, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella enterica and Escherichia coli. Though it has been said that old habits die hard, here are some easy and effective new behaviors that will kill off the bacteria and viruses.

Reduce cross-contamination Replace washable dish rags by the sink daily, and designate one for counters and one for dish-cleaning. If you do use a sponge or scouring pad, place it on the top rack of your dishwasher to disinfect it in the normal wash cycle at the end of each day.
Countertops and stove-tops Wash after each meal prep with a solution of natural soap, adding several drops of tea tree oil and thyme oil for a safe disinfectant. Stay clear of vinegar use on marble or granite countertops as they may pit.
Stove-top Though spoon rests are handy, they are often breeding grounds for Salmonella and E. Coli as the spoon is used to stir the not-yet-fully-cooked foods. Consider washing the spoon in hot water and natural soap in-between use.
Cutting board Have two dishwasher-safe cutting boards, and use one for meat and one for veggie prep exclusively.
Leaving their mark Keep on hand a clean microfiber cloth and a spray bottle filled with white distilled vinegar diluted by half of pure water to wipe down drawers, cabinet knobs, refrigerator door handle, light switch plates and stove top each day.
With these simple tips you can keep every surface sanitized, shiny and safe.

Ingredients to Avoid

Common household germs are not the only thing to worry about. You may be hosting even greater threats to your health with household cleaning products loaded with toxic ingredients. Don’t be tempted to reach for hardcore cleaners, especially if they contain the following four ingredients. Though not always listed on the labels, words such as Caution, Warning and Danger printed on the front or back label are red flags that some of the ingredients may not be safe.
Ethylene glycol Even minimal exposure to ethylene glycol, the same ingredient used in antifreeze, can cause nausea, vomiting, weakness, dizziness, headaches, rapid breathing and a host of additional side effects.
Ethanol Hypoglycemia and respiratory depression are the two most immediate complications that result from ethanol intoxication in children. Additional side effects including nausea, mental confusion and blurred vision are associated with use of this chemical.
2 Butoxy ethanol This ingredient is a respiratory, eye, nose and throat irritant, and a potential carcinogen and reproductive hazard.
Alcohol ethoxylate A known neurotoxin, reproductive toxin and carcinogen, it also negatively impacts our pets and adversely affects our aquatic life.

Brands to Try:

Mrs. Meyers, J.R Watkins, Seventh Generation, Method, Ecover, Zum Natural Cleaning Products from Indigo Wild, The Laundress, IQ, Ecover, E-Cloth.

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