A Cutting Board Can Help Keep Your Fridge Clean and Germ-Free — Here’s How

updated Dec 22, 2021
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Credit: Sarah Crowley

One of my mom’s biggest pet peeves in the kitchen was putting items like flour containers or the milk carton down on a dirty counter. It might seem relatively innocuous (the counters seem clean enough!), but it’s a bigger problem than you might realize as you’re mindlessly setting something down while you cook and chat at the same time.

You can easily see why it’s such a bad habit (and why my mom freaked out if she saw us doing it): Setting jars and cartons and other containers on top of counters that aren’t clean means spreading messes (and potentially germs) around. The oil you didn’t wipe up is now on the bottom of the sour cream container and pretty soon it’ll also be on your refrigerator shelf. The same applies to your pantry and cabinets: Putting items with dirty bottoms back inside clean spaces makes them sticky and dirty. It’s not a good feeling in the kitchen.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

My mom’s old peeve is now one of mine. I like to have a damp rag handy while I’m cooking or baking so I can be sure to clean up spills on the counter as I work, but it doesn’t always happen. In addition, for someone who doesn’t have this clean-as-you-go mentality, starting that habit so that items that get put down on the counter don’t get dirty might be a bit of a stretch.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

Instead, to give yourself (and the other members of your household) a visual reminder not to put down the baking soda or sugar bag on the spilled splotch of frosting, set out a cutting board before you start working in the kitchen. The cutting board will be your clean area, your spot to set items that aren’t dirty so they stay that way. When you’re ready to put everything away, you shouldn’t even have to clean the cutting board itself.

If a cutting board would take up too much space on the counter or you just don’t want to use one, make it a habit to wipe down the bottoms of your condiments and other containers before you put them away. You’ll essentially be reducing your cleaning by half.

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: Here’s How Your Cutting Board Can Help Keep Your Fridge Clean (and Germ-Free)