9 Clean Habits That Are Actually Making Your Kitchen Dirty

We've all made these mistakes before.

Clean or contaminated?

You probably have plenty of simple tricks to keeping your kitchen clean, but it turns out some of these habits may actually contribute to the mess and spread germs. Here are 9 "clean" habits that are making your kitchen dirtier, and what you should be doing instead.

Mistake: Rinsing raw meat and chicken before cooking

Although rinsing raw chicken and meat may seem logical in order to rid it of bacteria, the 2015 dietary guidelines for Americans recommend against it. When you rinse your chicken and meat, you are causing water and bacteria to splash on countertops and around the sink.

Instead: Cooking your chicken and meat to the proper minimum internal cooking temperature should destroy any bacteria lingering on it.

Mistake: Cooling food completely before storing

You may think you should cool food completely before storing in the fridge, but leaving food out too long can lead to bacterial growth. Bacteria love to grow at room temperature and can do so if the food is left out for over two hours.

Instead: Piping hot food should never be placed in the fridge (it will warm the interior), but the fridge can handle temperatures of 70-degrees or below. This means you just need to slightly cool down your food before placing in the fridge.

Mistake: Tasting food to see if it's gone bad

Tasting the food you’re about to serve to check if it’s "good" may be preventing illness of family members or guests, but could be making you sick. Just a little taste of spoiled food can cause symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea.

Instead: When in doubt, toss the food out.

Mistake: Returning leftovers to the fridge

Returning leftovers to the fridge seems like the right thing to do. However, if leftovers have been sitting out at room temperature for over 2 hours, illness-causing bacteria can thrive and lead to foodborne illness. If the food is left out at temperatures above 90-degrees, then one hour is plenty of time for bacteria to rapidly multiply.

Instead: Toss food that sits out at room temperature for over 2 hours, or 1 hour if temperatures exceed 90-degrees.

Mistake: Checking the color of chicken or meat for doneness

Although you may be eyeballing your chicken and meat for doneness, visual cues can be deceiving. According to the USDA, one out of four hamburgers turn brown in the center before reaching a safe cooking temperature.

Instead: Use a thermometer to check the internal temperature of the food you’re cooking. Some meat thermometers have built in temperatures for references. As a general rule of thumb, chicken should be cooked to 165 degrees F, ground beef to 155 degrees F, and steaks to 145 degrees F.

Mistake: Putting chicken or meat to defrost in the fridge

It’s correct to place raw chicken or meat in the refrigerator to defrost, however, if you’ve put it at the top of your fridge the juices can drip over ready-to-eat foods (like fruits and vegetables). Those juices carry bacteria that can potentially make you sick.

Instead: Store raw chicken or meat that is defrosting in the fridge on the lower shelves and make sure to wrap or cover it to catch any juices that may drip.

Mistake: Putting a clean knife in the knife block

You may be thoroughly cleaning your knives, but if you’re placing them right back into the knife block you’re re-contaminating it. The knife block is a perfect environment for yeast and mold to grow.

Instead: Clean your knife block regularly. Remove all the knives, turn the block upside down, and shake it to get rid of any crumbs or particles stuck inside. Wash the knife block by hand in warm, soapy water, and use a small brush to scrub the slots. Rinse in cool water, and then sanitize in a mixture of water and bleach.

Mistake: Storing glasses and stemware upside down

Although many folks turn glasses and mugs upside down to prevent dirt from getting inside, the top tends to be the most fragile part of the glass.

Instead: Store the glasses right side up in a closed cabinet. This will help keep them intact and dust-free.

Mistake: Quickly cleaning your blender

Although you may think you’re cleaning your blender properly, the 2013 NSF International Household Germ Study found that 36-percent of blender gaskets contain traces of salmonella and 43-percent of them carry mold or yeast.

Instead: Before washing the blender, completely disassemble it including the blade and gasket at the bottom. If the parts are dishwasher safe, place all the separated pieces in the dishwasher after every use. If hand washing, wash all the separated pieces in hot soapy water, rinse, and dry before re-assembling.