We don't mean to rain on your royal cleandom, but this might just burst your air tight bubble. Despite all of your OCD-like tendencies, the kitchen, your sanctum, the place where you fulfill your wildest food fantasies could be a safe haven for germs. Now, before we offend, let us start by saying it's not your fault. There are some dirty little myths going around out there. Luckily for you, we're setting the record straight on all your kitchen habits as we separate fact from fiction.
Placing hot food in the refrigerator will breed bacteria.
The longer you leave your food out to cool, the more time bacteria has to form and contaminate your vittles. In fact, bacteria actually form faster in room temperature than in a cooler environment.
Plastic cutting boards are safer than wood cutting boards.
There's nothing safe about a reused surface. The more proliferated the surface, the more germs you have hidden in the cracks. The only way to guarantee that your cutting board is free of bacteria is by constant runs in with the dishwasher, bleaching, or by replacing it. A plastic cutting board does not with stand germs better than wood. However it is much easier to clean and replace.
You can sterilize a kitchen sponge by putting it in the microwave.
You shouldn't rely on your microwave to do the job of killing germs. It's true that radiation attacks microorganisms. Still, there are dead spots in a microwave where the radiation does not reach. Mostly likely all the germs in your sponge will not get zapped. Tip: Submerge your sponge in a bowl of water. Heat the bowl in the microwave for about four minutes on high; this should kill any nasty critters.
Wipe down the counters with a sterilized kitchen sponge will kill germs.
If only it were that easy. However, studies have shown that by wiping down with a sponge, you are simply spreading the bacteria around on the surface. To ensure that you actually eliminate the germs, wipe countertops down with a paper towel and cleaning disinfectant.
The five second rule
A study out of Clemson University found that, if you pick up food or utensils from the ground in less than five seconds, it does in fact accumulate less germs. However that still doesn't guarantee that no germs come into contact. So, rule of thumb: don't use things off the ground. That's just plain old gross.