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5 mistakes you might be making when washing dishes

HOUSTON – To rinse or not to rinse? How often do you replace the kitchen sponge? These are the pressing questions we struggle with every time we stand at the kitchen sink to wash the dishes.

Consumer expert Amy Davis is ending the debate with answers and some short cuts to keeping your kitchen clean. 

You've heard that sponges are a breeding ground for dangerous bacteria like salmonella and E-coli. Instead of trusting yourself to toss it at least weekly, stop using them completely. If you use a dishrag instead to clean dishes, you can hang it to dry between uses. Then just wash and dry it with your other towels to kill the germs.

How often are you cleaning your sink? If you're not doing it daily, all that bacteria from your fruits and vegetables and meat is living in there. When you wash dishes, the bacteria is contaminating everything else. You can sanitize your sink daily with vinegar and baking soda. PopSugar has an easy recipe

You should clean your dishwasher occasionally, too. You may notice a slight smell. That's how you know it's past time. Just run it empty with a cup of vinegar and a cup of baking soda.

To rinse or not to rinse? If you'll be running your dishwasher right away, there is no need to rinse. If you'll be filling it over a few days before you turn it on, rinse your dishes so all that food doesn't get stuck on. 

Never put wooden items in the dishwasher. The water can damage spoons and cutting boards, causing the wood to swell and crack. You want to hand wash them instead and don't soak them. 

When you're loading your dishwasher, put the bowls on top and face them toward the water sprayer. If you can't see the inside of a bowl or plate from below, it may not get cleaned properly. When in doubt, consult your owner's manual. The manufacturer will explain exactly how your dishwasher should be loaded.