The bacteria that leads to foodborne illness can survive in many places around your kitchen, including your hands, utensils, counter tops and cutting boards. That's why it's so important that that you wash your hands, utensils and all kitchen surfaces the right way.

To make sure you get the most out of your hand-washing, follows these steps:

  • Wet your hands with warm or cold running water and apply soap.
  • Rub your hands together to form lather and scrub them well. Don't forget to the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. Bacteria can hide out here too!
  • Continue rubbing hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum "Happy Birthday" from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or let air dry.

Not sure when to wash? For the best chance at avoiding the bacteria that can make you sick, wash your hands the right way at these times:

  • Before eating food.
  • Before, during, and after preparing food.
  • Before applying gloves.
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound.
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick.
  • After handling uncooked eggs, or raw meat, poultry, seafood, or their juices.
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • After touching an animal or animal waste.
  • After touching garbage.
  • After using the toilet.

Surfaces and Utensils

It's not sufficient to just rinse utensils, countertops and cutting boards with water. If you want to make sure you stop bacteria from spreading, use the following steps to clean surfaces and utensils:

  • Clean utensils and small cutting boards with hot, soapy water after every use.
  • Wash surfaces and cutting boards after each use by...
    1. Mixing one teaspoon of unscented liquid bleach per quart of water;
    2. Flooding the surface with the bleach solution, and letting it stand for 10 minutes;
    3. Rinsing with clean water;
    4. Letting surfaces air dry or pat them dry with fresh paper towels.
    5. Remember-bleach solutions get less effective with time, so discard unused portions after one week!

Wash fruits and veggies-but not meat, poultry, or eggs!

Did you know that-even if you plan to peel fruits and veggies-it's important to wash them first because bacteria can spread from the outside to the inside as you cut or peel them?

Here's how to wash all your produce effectively...

  1. Cut away any damaged or bruised areas.
  2. Rinse produce under running water. Don't use soap, detergent, bleach, or commercial produce washes.
  3. Scrub firm produce-like melons or cucumbers-with a clean produce brush.
  4. Dry produce with a paper towel or clean cloth towel... and you're done.
  5. The good news? Bagged produce marked "pre-washed" is safe to use without further washing.

Why not wash meat, poultry, and eggs?

Washing raw meat and poultry can actually help bacteria spread, because their juices may splash onto (and contaminate!) your sink and countertops.

All commercial eggs are washed before sale. Any extra handling of the eggs, such as washing, may actually increase the risk of cross-contamination, especially if the shell becomes cracked.