Special Report

10 Mistakes You’re Probably Making Cleaning Groceries

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1. You’re not specifying no-contact delivery

Like their counterparts delivering ready-made food from restaurants, virtually all grocery delivery services offer no-contact delivery. That means that your order is left on your doorstep, eliminating the need for you to have any direct interaction with the delivery person. Some services consider no-contact delivery the default option, but in other cases you may need to specifically request it when you order.

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2. You’re not using a dedicated unpacking and cleaning area

Once you bring your order inside, where do you put it? If you just set it down on the counter and then don’t thoroughly disinfect the surface later, you’re taking a chance of contamination. Before bringing things inside, designate a defined area so you know exactly what to clean when you’re finished. Some people use their kitchen sink, because it’s easier to disinfect. Others clear off a portion of the counter or dining room table. (To make cleanup easier, you can also spread newspaper on the surface before setting anything down, then carefully discard the paper when you’re done.)

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3. You’re not washing your hands before cleaning your order

You’ve heard this time and again in recent months, but you can’t wash your hands often enough. Other than breathing in the virus, the most common method of transmission is apparently through touching an infected surface and then touching your face. We all touch our faces more often than we realize, so the cleaner our hands are at all times, the better. After you’ve unpacked but before you start cleaning, wash your hands in warm water, with soap, for at least 20 seconds.

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4. You’re not wiping down packaging

Some food safety experts think disinfecting groceries is being overly cautious, but to be safe — and remembering that your food has probably been touched by at least a few people (stock clerks, other customers, your delivery shopper) — it’s a good idea to thoroughly wash packaging or swab it with a disinfectant wipe, and to wash produce thoroughly.

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5. You’re using chemical disinfectants on produce

Chemical wipes and sprays are great tools for disinfecting surfaces, from countertops to food packaging to anything else that people regularly touch (door handles, light switches, etc.). It emphatically should not be used on fruits and vegetables, however, or directly on anything else you plan to eat (the surface of meats, for example). Even if you wash items after using disinfectants, some residue might remain, and it can make you sick.