The #1 Tool to Avoid Food Poisoning

You always knew your dishwasher was convenient. But did you also know that it's one of your best allies in keeping your kitchen safe from contaminants? The dishwasher sanitizes everything that goes in it, says Bonnie Richmond, senior lecturer in food safety and sanitation at the Hotel School at Cornell University, if you use the dry cycle. During that cycle, the internal temperature of the dishwasher reaches 170°F, which is required for sanitizing. (Sanitizing is the process of reducing harmful microbes to an acceptable level. Sterilizing is the process of removing all living organisms - something we can't aspire to in our own homes.)

Here's Richmond's first rule of thumb: Run anything through the dishwasher that can go into it, including plateware, glassware, flatware, plastic cutting boards, and sponges. Anything that touches raw meat and fish, or their juices or blood, should be placed in the dishwasher immediately. That means if you use a sponge to wipe up the counter where meat juices have spilled, you should toss it right in the dishwasher and get out a clean one. At the very least, your sponges should go into the dishwasher every time you run it. Be sure to keep a backup supply on hand so you are not tempted to use a dirty one.

PLUS: 8 Places Germs Hide in Your Home

One thing you can't put through the dishwasher is your hands. Always keep a bar of soap or soap dispenser next to the kitchen sink. To ensure that you are not spreading contaminants, wash your hands thoroughly whenever you enter the kitchen, between each kitchen task, and before you leave the kitchen.

Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter

Must-Read: How 23 Normal People Are Changing the World

13 Things Your Mall Santa Won't Tell You

20 Secrets Your Waiter Won't Tell You
15 Foods You Should Never Buy Again

11 Biggest Red Flag Words on Packaged Foods
13 Things Your Barista Won't Tell You

13 Things Your Dentist Wants You to Know

13 Things a Movie Theater Employee Won't Tell You

13 Hotel Secrets You Should Know

13 Things the Pizza Guy Won't Tell You

19 Weight Loss Secrets From Around the World

Get more insider secrets
and sign up for our newsletters.