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Cleaning Matters logo small September/October 2011

Ask Nancy Tell Nancy

Nancy Bock   2010 [320x200]

Tell Nancy!

Text: 202-617-1307

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Q: I've given up buying coffee in the morning in favor of bringing my own in a travel mug. However, the cup sits in my car all day and doesn't get washed until late at night. The inside is a little grungy. How do I get it really clean?

A: There are several ways to remove coffee stains. You may have to experiment to see which one works best on your particular travel mug. Since soaking is easier than scrubbing, try one of these methods first: using chlorine bleach, soak the mug overnight or fill the mug with boiling water, add two spoonfuls of dishwasher detergent and soak overnight. If neither method works, mix one part dishwasher detergent with three parts water and a splash of white vinegar. Let it sit in the mug for about an hour. Scrub with a nonabrasive cleaning pad and rinse well.

Q: We have a wood cutting board that we use for everything. What's the best way to clean it? Would it be better to get a plastic one?

A: Wash your cutting board with dish soap and hot water after each use. Rinse with clear water. Air-dry or pat dry with clean paper towels. Note that some nonporous cutting boards, including acrylic, plastic or glass, can also be washed in the dishwasher.

If the cutting board was used for uncooked meat, fish or poultry, sanitize it after cleaning with a solution of one tablespoon of liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water. Flood the surface with the bleach solution and allow it to stand for several minutes. Rinse with clear water and air-dry or pat dry with clean paper towels.

You might consider getting a second cutting board so you have one for meat, poultry and fish and another for fruits, vegetables, etc. That way, you only have to sanitize one board. The choice between wood and plastic is a matter of personal preference. Plastic boards are lighter in weight, but wood boards are kinder to your knives.

– Nancy Bock is Vice President of Consumer Education at the American Cleaning Institute®

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