• Use vinegar as a mold killer. The EPA actually recommends against using chlorine to kill mold, since it may kill the mold on the surface but not its root system deep behind the wall. The most effective way to control mold or mildew growth is to find the source of the problem, such as the crack in your bathtub grout. Vinegar will function in the same way as chlorine; so if you need a surface-mold killer, opt for the natural disinfectant that won't burn your lungs (chlorine is also hard on building materials, and causes them to break down faster). Spray vinegar on surfaces and leave it there to dry.
• Use separate cutting boards. Hydrogen peroxide and vinegar, and even salt and vinegar, will cut down on some level of foodborne bacteria. For thorough protection, rather than resort to chlorine, simply use separate cutting boards for produce and for meats, and wash both in hot, soapy water when you're finished.
• Use wood for your meat. Researchers have found that wood cutting boards are less likely to harbor bacteria than plastic, and if you're still worried about lingering germs, microwave it. Microwaving plastic has no effect on germ growth (plastic doesn't get hot enough fast enough for the technique to work), but it will kill germs on wood.
• Replace your sponges—for good. Sponges can harbor more bacteria than any other kitchen tool. Rather than soak them in bleach, switch to an alternative that you can throw in the wash, such as dishcloths or reusable wipes.
Published on: September 28, 2009