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Growing up in a very tiny kitchen in New York City, a dishwasher was a luxury that I never had. So, like many New Yorkers, I got used to washing my dishes in the sink after dinner. (Here's how one writer learned to love washing dishes by hand.)
Like many other home cooks, I tend to turn on both the hot and cold taps to get a comfortable temperature before I scrub away with a sponge and some dish soap, before dropping it in a rack to dry. Who wants to stick their hands in scalding hot water, right? But I've learned that even something as simple as dishwashing has a science, and that just washing dishes in cool water is a complete waste of time.
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Sure, scrubbing off any crusted-on sauce may leave you thinking that a bowl is now clean as can be—but according to Stop Foodborne Illness, a public health organization, unless you've effectively sanitized a dish by soaking it in cleaning solution or sufficiently hot water, it's not clean.
And not just a little hot. Water needs to reach at least 170°F—that's generally a lot hotter than what comes out of your faucet, and is hotter than you probably want to touch with your bare hands.
Experts at the health organization say that you need to thoroughly rinse or completely submerge your dishes for at least 30 seconds in order to kill any harmful germs. If you want to to properly clean your dishes for optimal safety, be sure to have a good pair of kitchen gloves, and possibly a thermometer.
If you don't want to use hot water, Stop Foodborne Illness recommends using a sanitizing solution. One tablespoon of unscented chlorine bleach per gallon of water is enough to effectively sanitize your dishes.
More on how to best clean your kitchen safely:
Many bacteria behind foodborne illnesses, such as salmonella, can actually multiply based on contact alone—if you fail to properly sanitize your plates, there's a good chance that your sponge is picking up and holding any harmful bacteria it has come across. It's all too easy to imagine using that same sponge on something else and potentially contaminate that item as well.
We've previously learned that many Americans are washing their hands wrong or ineffectively, so don't be too embarrassed if you've been cleaning dishes wrong. Taking the extra time to make sure cookware and dishes are clean could help keep our households that much safer.
How to clean your sex toys, according to three experts
Whether you've just purchased your first vibrator or are a seasoned dildo user, it's important to learn how to properly care for it. One major safety precaution you need to take — before both solo and partner play — is to clean your sex toy.
While it may not sound sexy, cleaning your toys is essential. "Pleasure products can help you embrace confidence, help navigate intimate desires and boundaries and boost self-love," said Kristin Fretz, co-founder and CMO of Emojibator. "But having an experience like getting a UTI from a vibrator is not just uncomfortable and can be extremely painful if left untreated, but it perpetuates the shame around masturbation and can create individual resistance to self-pleasure."
If this year taught us anything, it’s that we should all try to be more mindful about sanitization — especially when it comes to the most sensitive areas of your body. While it may not seem sexy, cleaning your sex toys can just be another (perhaps the last) step when you masturbate or play with a partner. Just as you wash your body after sex and rigorously wash your hands after…well, touching anything, cleaning sex toys is crucial to being as safe and healthy as possible.
Furthermore, you'll want to find a clean space to store your clean sex toy. Not doing so would basically make washing them useless. It'd be like washing your hands only to cough into them seconds later you'd have to rewash them. Many toys come with their own pouch, which is useful, but there are many other options available too.
To help you avoid getting into an unpleasant or even downright dangerous situation, Mashable spoke with three experts, including Fretz, about how to clean sex toys in the safest and most thorough way.
Why you shouldn’t use a sponge
The ideal way to sanitize dishes and cups is to run them through the dishwasher. Since a dishwasher cycles both hot water and hot heat during the drying phase, it’s an effective way to get your eating utensils clean. But it’s important to use the full energy cycle to get the best results. Energy savers use less energy and therefore generate less heat for sanitizing. (The heat is important to destroy the microbes.)
If you don’t use a dishwasher, you’re likely to choose a kitchen sponge. But sponges are ideal breeding grounds for bacteria, given the amount of food residue that can stick on and inside the porous surfaces, and the numerous moist havens that lure the bugs and provide fertile ground for them to breed. &ldquoThe sponge never really dries,&rdquo says Leslie Reichert, a green cleaning expert and author of Joy of Green Cleaning. &ldquoIt&rsquos the perfect environment for bacteria…you never totally rinse the food out of the sponge.&rdquo
The good news is that the bugs residing in these sponges aren&rsquot generally the ones that can make you sick. Egert did not find the common bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses, such as salmonella, E. coli and campylobacter. Still, it&rsquos possible that these disease-causing bugs were simply overwhelmed by the sheer number of other bugs Egert suspects that if researchers look hard enough, they would find them in some sponges.
Glass has been controversial, in both Conservative and Orthodox rulings, in terms of determining what material category it fails under. Glass is made of sand, so is it earthen­ware? Yet it does not absorb as earthenware does, so is it like metal? In the Shulchan Aruch, Joseph Caro writes that glass dishes &ldquoneed no kashering since they do not absorb,&rdquo while Moshe Isserles writes, &ldquoAnd some are more stingent and say that even purging by boiling is of no effect in their case.&rdquo The ultimate Conservative and more common Or­thodox conclusion is that glass is neutral, and can be kashered simply by washing.
However, because glass is neutral, the question has been raised: Could the same dishes be used for dairy and for meat, just washing them in between uses? While technically this is a possibility, both Conservative and Orthodox rules frown upon this as a practice. It is too easy for incidents of basar b&rsquohalav [meat and dairy mixing] to happen. Keeping track of when you used the dish last, if you washed it appropriately, and so on make it problematic to use the same glass dishes for hot dairy and meat foods.
Drinking glasses, however, since they are used only for cold substances, may be used with both dairy and meat meals. A mahmir [strict] Orthodox stand is to have separate drinking glasses for dairy and meat, but using one set of drinking glasses is not only acceptable but common practice.
Glass that is used for baking, such as Pyrex, is a separate issue. The Conservative rul­ing is that Pyrex and such materials are treated the same as other glassware, and can be kashered simply by washing. The Orthodox stand on Pyrex, on the other hand, is that it and other glassware that has been used for baking cannot be kashered, and must be re­placed.
There are two ways to kasher glasses: by simply washing them and waiting 24 hours, or by milui v&rsquoirui [soaking]. This method, soaking, is primarily used to prepare glass­ware for Pesach, but it may also be used when going from an unkosher to a kosher kitchen. Place the glassware in a single layer (no stacking) in a large container (this may be done in a cleaned bathtub that hasn&rsquot been used for 24 hours). Cover with water completely. The glassware needs to soak 72 hours, but you must change the water after 24 hours and again after 48 hours. At the end of the 72 hours, drain and wash the glassware.
But if dishes sit too long…
Rinsing before stacking generally isn't necessary — but there's a caveat.
If you've left your dishes a while before loading the dishwasher, a pre-wash can work wonders, director of a Melbourne-based firm that advises cleaning and facility managers Bridget Gardner says.
"If the dishes are coated in food containing proteins and carbs that tend to stick, such as milk, cereal or egg, and they are left for hours or even a day before washing, it is expecting too much of any dishwasher to remove."
But if you're keen to save water, there's a workaround even with the crustiest of old dishes.
"I know people who try to live sustainably who use stale bread to clean away residual food rather than water, which they then put into the compost or feed their chooks," Ms Gardner says.
Looking for more expert tips from Marie Kondo? Check out both of her books and get organized!
Both The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up ($8.62) and Spark Joy ($11.87) are available on Amazon.
Your kitchen sink probably needs a little TLC. Here’s how to take care of it.
If there’s one place where I have spent more waking hours than at my desk the past 13 months, it’s my kitchen sink. Washing hands, washing dishes, rinse, repeat. Multiple times I have suddenly become so distressed by the appearance of this fixture that I will drop whatever I’m doing, often at inconvenient moments, like right before bed, to clean it until it sparkles.
I know I’m not alone. “I think we do take it for granted,” says Lisa Hurley, the marketing manager for kitchen sinks at Kohler. She says that on average, we use our kitchen sinks 10 to 12 times a day (could be easily double that in my house!), so we can’t afford to ignore it. Thankfully, “taking care of your kitchen sink is really, really easy,” according to Hurley.
And take care of it you should. “A sink is a hard thing to rip out and replace,” says Matthew Baranuk, Moen’s sinks team product manager. “You might have the same sink for … 20-plus years. That thing’s not going anywhere.” He guesses 9 out of 10 people don’t pay as much attention to their sinks as they should.
Here are some tips to help you do due diligence to this kitchen workhorse we can’t live without.
Take routine, small steps. Incorporating a little TLC into your everyday routine can go a long way toward sink maintenance. Hurley encourages home cooks to rinse out all food debris to discourage bacterial growth and prevent it from drying on, at which point it’s much harder to remove. An extra minute to wipe out the sink with a soft cloth is also helpful, and so is drying around the faucet or other fixtures, such as a sprayer wand, to ward off mineral or grime buildup.
Get in the habit of a regular cleaning. Even if you engage in the steps above, you’re still going to want to make a habit of a more thorough cleaning every so often. Baranuk recommends waiting no more than 10 days to give your sink some more intense attention. We’re living in a time of heightened attention to hygiene, but Hurley and Baranuk both emphasize one big tip: Please, no harsh cleaners or tools on your sink. “I would say that less is more,” says Hurley, who notes that a simple approach of dish soap and water is typically sufficient.
Baranuk has seen online videos promoting steel wool. “It’s almost like a horror film to me,” he says, because something like that can remove the finish. What about more intense products such as Soft Scrub and Comet? “Those are all big no-nos,” Hurley says. Even straight-up vinegar can prove too harsh, she says. Baranuk likes Bon Ami as a gentle yet effective option, although he often goes natural with a halved lemon coated in salt (bonus: the spent lemon can be tossed down the disposal to clean and freshen that). Bar Keepers Friend is in my arsenal, too, when my stainless steel sink needs a good shining. Some manufacturers, including Kohler, offer cleaners designed for their specific sinks. Regardless of what you use, Hurley says, it’s a good idea to test it on a small spot first and not leave it on the sink for an extended period of time.
Sinks are also notorious for having tricky spots to clean, depending on the style, such as around the faucet and the seams where they meet the counter. “I have like five toothbrushes underneath my sink that I use” for that purpose, Baranuk says. They’re gentle and can get into places where a large cloth or sponge might not, including in the holes of a faucet or sprayer. Use in conjunction with soap and water as needed.
Understand your sink’s particular needs. I have a pile of manuals for various appliances and gadgets, but the sink? Not so much. Most of us are living with a sink installed by someone else, with the manual lost to time. If you’re ready to take a more proactive approach to sink maintenance, do yourself a favor and try to track down the instructions online.
Fifty-one percent of respondents said they don't always use soap when they wash their hands. Read Poor Personal Hygiene Habits That Can Impact Your Lifespan.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a 20-second session for hand-washing, while 38% of respondents said they wash their hands for only 15 seconds or less.
Although it's not clear how many individuals participated in the Puronics survey or how they sourced their responses, this update is such a key reminder about the fact that we all should be washing our hands. If you're brushing up on keeping healthy, keep reading:
Handwashing in Community Settings
Regular handwashing is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others. Whether you are at home, at work, traveling, or out in the community, find out how handwashing with soap and water can protect you and your family.
Learn about key times and tips, use of hand sanitizer&hellip
Help your child develop handwashing skills&hellip
Use resources to promote handwashing and prevent illness&hellip
See the data behind why and how to wash your hands.
Follow handwashing tips to prevent food poisoning&hellip
Find information on key handwashing topics&hellip
Get answers to frequently asked questions about washing your hands and using hand sanitizer in community settings.
See CDC&rsquos recommendations and resources for Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Settings