Bleach-Free Kitchen Disinfecting


How do you clean your cutting boards and counter tops after preparing raw meat?

Some say the only safe way is to use a mild bleach and water solution. But bleach is bad for the environment and is also a lung irritant. There has to be a greener way. I researched the question and found that the solution (no pun intended) depends on your comfort level with a little bacteria, since the only thing guaranteed to kill all germs is bleach.

Some people use straight vinegar, but that isn’t quite strong enough for me, so I look to hydrogen peroxide. Many people swear by a one-two punch of straight white vinegar followed by the commonly found 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide undiluted. For my peace of mind, I’m adding boiling water to the mix.

Here’s the method I’m adopting in my own home:


– Devote one cutting board to raw meat and never use it for other items.

– Get two spray bottles and fill one with vinegar and one with hydrogen peroxide. Never mix them; it makes a dangerous compound!

– Boil water in the kettle while cleaning.


– Pour boiling water on the surface and scrub with soap

– Rinse

– Spray both the surface you are cleaning and your sponge with vinegar and let sit for 5 minutes.

– Spray the surface and your sponge with hydrogen peroxide and let it sit for 5 minutes.

– Follow up with a rinse of boiling water on the surface and your sponge.

It does take a bit more effort, but for harmless hygiene, this is the way to go. What’s your green cleaning preference?

Image: Nancy Hugo

Vanessa Barrington

Vanessa Barrington is a San Francisco based writer and communications consultant specializing in environmental, social, and political issues in the food system.