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Dear Ellen,

What do you use to clean out your sink after you wash off poultry?

Sue and Gary, Duluth, Minnesota

Dear Sue and Gary,

When I clean out my sink, I use the same environmentally friendly method that the USDA has approved for decontaminating beef carcasses. This method utilizes hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and distilled white vinegar, and is actually more effective than using chlorine bleach. Hydrogen peroxide and white vinegar can also be used to decontaminate delicate fresh produce such as lettuce, fruits, and vegetables.

Here’s how to get started: buy two spray bottles. One of the bottles must be very dark and opaque because hydrogen peroxide breaks down when it is exposed to light. Fill the dark bottle with H2O2. If you cannot find a dark spray bottle, search for a spraybottle-nozzle that will screw into a small bottle of hydrogen peroxide. (Hydrogen peroxide is usually available in drug stores and in the pharmacy section of supermarkets.) Fill the other bottle with full-strength distilled white vinegar. (Vinegar is usually located in the pickle section of your local supermarket. I buy distilled vinegar by the gallon, it’s cheaper that way).

Utilizing this system is easy: after you rinse off a chicken carcass, wipe the interior of the sink down with a damp cloth and dish detergent in order to get rid of the schmaltz (chicken fat), then rinse the sink. Next, spray the entire surface of the sink with hydrogen peroxide and with vinegar. The order in which you spray these liquids does not matter. Your sink is now free of live bacteria. If you are decontaminating produce, you might want to spray the vinegar first, so the hydrogen peroxide can wash away the vinegar.

The dual-spray system can also be used to disinfect bathroom surfaces as well any other hard surfaces that may be harboring bacteria.

Environmentally yours,

Ellen

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