Tag Archive: Clean

Are YOUR Hands Clean?

It’s something we all hopefully learned as children and carry with us now into adulthood: washing our hands often and properly. But I’m sorry to say that we’ve probably all witnessed numerous instances of people leaving the restroom, coughing or sneezing, touching their cell phones or any number of other filthy surfaces, and then neglecting to wash their hands. According to a research study from Michigan State University (2013), only 5% of people washed their hands properly after using the toilet with 7% of men and 15% of women not washing their hands at all. This type of behavior is a recipe for disaster, leading to the spread of germs and pathogens.

Germs and pathogens are invisible and ubiquitous, living on every imaginable surface. Even though they can’t be seen by the naked eye they have the ability to make us very sick, and can even be deadly. According to Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist with the University of Arizona, a typical cell phone has approximately 25,000 germs per square inch! We spread germs very easily from surface to surface and from hand to mouth, increasing the potential for illness to ourselves and others every step of the way. If these germs contaminate food contact surfaces or the food we eat, the likelihood for a foodborne illness has been created. Common symptoms of foodborne illness include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and abdominal cramps. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases.

The good news is that we all have the power to stop the spread of germs. The Food and Drug Administration says that “washing with plain soap and running water remains one of the most important steps consumers can take to avoid getting sick and to prevent spreading germs to others.”

It’s good practice to always wash your hands (CDC):

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage

Are you following these steps to proper handwashing (CDC)?

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Soap and water may not always be available, so using hand sanitizer is the next best thing. Although hand sanitizers don’t kill all germs, the CDC recommends choosing a sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to significantly reduce the number of germs and pathogens on your hands.

For more information on handwashing and hand sanitizers refer to the CDC Handwashing Factsheet. Additional information about foodborne illnesses and the pathogens that cause them can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/foodborne-germs.html


Author: amymullins – amymullins@ufl.edu

Amy Mullins is a Family and Consumer Sciences Agent in Leon County, with programs focused on food & nutrition, food safety, health & wellness, and chronic disease prevention. Amy is a Registered Dietitian and a graduate of The University of Florida and Florida State University.


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/08/24/are-your-hands-clean/

The International Coastal Clean Up is Coming in September – how are we doing with marine debris in our area?

The International Coastal Clean Up is Coming in September – how are we doing with marine debris in our area?

People have been trying to do something about marine debris, and solid waste in general, since we saw the commercial of the crying Indian in the early ‘70’s. Have we made any improvement?

A variety of plastics ends up in the Gulf. Each is a potential problem for marine life. Photo: Rick O'Connor

A variety of plastics ends up in the Gulf. Each is a potential problem for marine life. Photo: Rick O’Connor

Yes… but there are still problems to deal with.


Literally millions of tons of solid waste are produced and disposed of each year. According to the 16th edition of Living in the Environment by G. Tyler Miller and Scott Spoolman (2011), Americans generate 2.5 million tons of solid waste each year.  This total could fill enough garbage trucks to circle the earth 8 times – bumper to bumper.  Though we only make up 4.6% of the world’s population we generate 33% of world’s solid waste.  Scientists have been recommending that we reduce the amount of solid waste we produce for some time… but we are not.


So what are we going to do about the problem?


Well, if you are not going to reduce the amount generated you have basically three choices

  1. Bury it
  2. Burn it
  3. Recycle it

Currently Americans are burying about 54% of their solid waste, 25% is recycled, 14% is incinerated, 7% is composted. Comparing our recycling efforts to other nations we are not doing too bad, but there is room for improvement – there is actually a need to improve.  The majority of the solid waste we throw away actually ends up in the environment.  It has been determined that 80% of the plastics in the ocean come from land – and much of this was thrown in the trash by people who were doing the right thing.


To reduce waste, we need to know what it is we are throwing away. According to Miller and Spoolman the top five items we throw away are:

  1. Paper/cardboard – 37%
  2. Yard waste – 12%
  3. Food – 11%
  4. Plastics – 11%
  5. Metal – 8%

Most of these can be recycled or composted – should be easy – but we are not doing it as often as we should.


What about local marine debris?


I have been working with the local group OCEAN HOUR.  Ocean Hour cleans a shoreline somewhere in the Escambia / Santa Rosa area every weekend (check out their Facebook page or the Escambia County Extension website to know where).  Volunteers come out to help remove the waste and Ocean Hour provides buckets, tongs, and gloves for them to do so.  Sea Grant, Escambia County, and students from local schools help to gather data from what they are collecting.


TOP FIVE ITEMS 2015 2016


1 Cigarette butts Cigarette butts


2 Food wrappers Foam


3 Plastic bottles Plastic bottles


4 Plastic pieces Glass bottles


5 Foam Food wrappers




There has been a lot of concern about plastics in the environment. Paper, food, and yard waste are oxygen demanding waste, and need to be reduced, but their life span in the ocean is much shorter than plastic.  Plastics are made using large polymers produced while refining oil and natural gas.  There are about 46 different types and many products are a mix of different polymers.  This actually makes some forms difficult, and costly, to recycle.  Most counties can recycle #1 and #2 forms of plastic.  Water bottles are made from a form of plastic called polyethylene terephthalate (PET).  These are easier and less costly to recycle than some other forms but they must be disposed of separately.  One PVC bottle in a truck load of plastic water bottles will keep the entire truck load from being recycled.

Trash 1

Another issue, which you will be hearing more about this month, are microplastics.  Much of the plastic that reaches the ocean will break down due the sun and the ocean elements.  These bring on their own problems – read more about microplastics on this website or the link above.


We certainly encourage all folks who live in the panhandle, or who are visiting, to reduce the amount of solid waste they generate – recycle or compost what you can – and participate in community cleans ups – such as those put on by Ocean Hour.  The International Coastal Clean Up will be September 17.  Check the Escambia County website for locations.  We can do this!


Author: Rick O’Connor – roc1@ufl.edu

Sea Grant Extension Agent in Escambia County

Rick O’Connor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/09/02/the-international-coastal-clean-up-is-coming-in-september-how-are-we-doing-with-marine-debris-in-our-area/

Clean It Up with Homemade Cleaners

Clean It Up with Homemade Cleaners

laundry-666487_1920Spring has sprung and this is the perfect time to clean and freshen your house.  But you don’t have to spend a lot of money on cleaning products when you can whip up your own with a few simple, inexpensive ingredients.

The basic ingredient list includes:

  • White Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Ammonia
  • Mild dish detergent
  • Washing soda (can be found in the laundry products aisle)
  • Borax (also in the laundry section)

Use clean jars or bottles for mixing and storage.  Do not use food containers – children can think the contents are something to eat.  Also, don’t mix your products in empty cleaning product bottles; residue from the original product may interact with your product, causing a dangerous reaction. Label each product and store out of reach of children.  NEVER mix chlorine bleach with ammonia or vinegar – it will create dangerous, toxic fumes!

Here are a few recipes to get you started:


Mix in a 16 oz. or larger spray bottle:

  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup water

Use on sinks, countertops, lightly soiled range surfaces, floors, toilets, and showers.


  • 3 tablespoons ammonia
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar

Put in a spray bottle and fill the rest with water.


  • 1 bar Ivory® or 1/3 bar Fels Naptha® soap
  • 1/2 cup washing soda
  • 1/2 cup borax powder

Grate the bar soap into a cooking pot.  Add 6 cups of water and heat until the soap melts.  Add the washing soda and borax and stir until dissolved.  Remove from heat.  Pour 4 cups hot water into a clean bucket.  Add the soap mixture from the pot and stir.  Add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir.  Let the soap sit for about 24 hours and it will gel slightly.  Optional:  Add 1 ounce essential oil or fragrance oil of your choice.

Use 1/2 cup per load.  This is a low-sudsing soap which removes dirt and odor and can be used in high-efficiency machines.

For more product recipes, check out Homemade Household Cleaners and Green Cleaning:  Recipes for a Healthy Home.

Sources:  Homemade Household Cleaners

Clean It Green!, C. Rogers, UF/IFAS Extension Suwannee County.



Author: Judy Corbus – jlcorbus@ufl.edu

Judy Corbus is the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent in Washington and Holmes Counties.

Judy Corbus

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/04/05/clean-it-up-with-homemade-cleaners/

Friday Funny: Cold Water Clean

A man went to visit his 90 year old uncle who lived on a very secluded farm in the Florida Panhandle. He had not seen his uncle in over 20 years, because the uncle only left the farm for groceries and doctor’s appointments, and never ventured far from his farm.  The two men spent hours chatting the night away, and finally went to bed after midnight.

Early the next morning, his uncle prepared a wonderful country breakfast of bacon, eggs, biscuits, and hash-browns. As he finished his breakfast the man noticed a film like substance on his plate, and questioned his uncle asking, “Are these plates clean?”  His uncle replied, “They’re as clean as cold water can get them. Just you go ahead and finish your meal!”

For lunch the old man grilled up some hamburgers. Again, the man was concerned about the plates, as his appeared to have tiny specks around the edge that looked like dried egg and asked, “Are you sure these plates are clean?” Without looking up the old man said, “I told you before, those dishes are as clean as cold water can get them. Now don’t you fret, I don’t want to hear another word about it!”

Later that afternoon, as the man was packing his car to leave, his Uncle’s dog came out from under the front porch.  The dog started to growl, and bear his teeth, with the hair standing up on his back as the man tried to go back in the house and wouldn’t let him pass.  John yelled and said, “Uncle Ned, your dog won’t let me come back in the house.” Without diverting his attention from the football game he was watching on TV, the old man shouted,


If you enjoyed that joke, you might also enjoy other Friday Funnies from previous weeks.

Farm folks always enjoy sharing good jokes, photos and stories.  If you have a good, clean joke, particularly one that pertains to agriculture, or a funny photo that you took on the farm, send it in and we will share it with our readers:

Email to:  Panhandle Ag Jokes



Author: Doug Mayo – demayo@ufl.edu

Jackson County Extension Director, Livestock & Forages Agent. My true expertise is with beef cattle and pasture management, but I can assist with information on other livestock species, as well as recreational fish ponds.

Doug Mayo

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/11/21/friday-funny-cold-water-clean/

Spring Clean Your Way to a Safer Home!


Spring cleaning of one’s home is a tradition dating back centuries that is tied to the vernal equinox – the first day of spring.   At the spring equinox, days are approximately 12 hours long with day length increasing as the season progresses. In many cultures this longer, lighter, warmer day is often a cause for celebration! And who could even think about celebrating a longer, lovelier day without a clean home?

The kitchen is a great place to start! You can protect yourself by preventing the spread of germs where food is prepared. However, the terms clean, sanitize and disinfect are often used interchangeably which can cause confusion. Best practices based upon current research state that cleaning and sanitizing is multi-step process. And even though surfaces look visibly clean, they may still be contaminated with microorganisms (infectious fungi, bacteria and viruses).

Cleaning is the removal of dirt from food preparation surfaces. These can be counters, cutting boards, dishes knives, utensils pots and pans – even your refrigerator.

  1. Wash surface with soap and warm water
  2. Rinse with clean water
  3. Air dry or dry with a clean disposable towel

Sanitizing reduces germs on inanimate – nonliving surfaces.

  1. Wash surface with soap and warm water using appropriate cleaning agents and equipment. Detergents can penetrate soil quickly whereas solvent, acid or abrasive cleaners may be needed for deep cleaning. The friction of cleaning — often with soap and water — removes most surface germs, which is adequate for most household surfaces.
  2. Rinse with clean water
  3. Air dry or dry with a clean disposable towel

Disinfecting destroys or inactivates most germs on inanimate surfaces.

  1. Wash surface with soap and warm water
  2. Rinse with clean water
  3. Disinfecting is not appropriate in all cases. However, it’s a good idea to get in the routine of disinfecting countertops, door and cabinet handles, and sink and sink faucets as these places are used frequently- think where dirt and guck can collect!
  4. Air dry or dry with a clean disposable towel

Also remember to disinfect dishcloths – often. Launder dishcloths frequently using the hot water cycle of the washing machine. Be sure to dry cloths thoroughly. These items can harbor bacteria and when wet, promote bacterial growth. Also, consider using disposable towels to clean up surfaces.

And don’t forget your kitchen sink drain and disposal. Once or twice a week clean, sanitize and disinfect.

Bathroom surfaces can be of critical concern. Surfaces closest to the toilet bowl – seat, cistern and nearby walls and shelving are most affected. When cleaning and disinfecting bathroom surfaces it is important to understand fecal matter is especially a huge matter of concern!

Then there are our general housekeeping surfaces, floors, walls, and furniture, which are low–touch surfaces that require low-level of disinfections. Cleaning these surfaces frequently with a bit of detergent or a low-level disinfectant designed for general housekeeping can decrease the level of contamination. General procedures should be followed. Remove dirt form surfaces (dust, vacuum or sweep) sanitize or disinfect, allow surfaces to air dry.

Thorough cleaning of all surfaces is important to reduce the spread of pathogens. High-touch surfaces, surfaces that are handled frequently, throughout the day, by numerous people, need cleaning and disinfecting. These surfaces can include doorknobs, light switches, phones, keyboards etc. that can become contaminated by objects such an inadequately cleaned rag, sponges or even improperly washed hands.

Cleaning regularly prevents the build-up of materials that can carry pathogens and support their growth. Some pathogens, viruses especially, can have a long shelf life and can stay on surfaces if they are not properly cleaned, sanitized or disinfected.

Take a look at The University of Florida IFAS EDIS publication explaining the use of common household products to use effectively as sanitizers. Also remember, it is critical to read and follow the safety instructions on any product you use.



Heidi Copeland Extension Agent II Family and Consumer Sciences

615 Paul Russell Road Tallahassee, FL 32301-7060 850/606-5203


Author: Heidi Copeland – hbc@ufl.edu

Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent, Leon County Florida Educational Program Focus: •Food, Nutrition and Wellness •Child Development and Parenting

Heidi Copeland

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/04/11/spring-clean-your-way-to-a-safer-home/

Clean Out Your Fridge for the Holidays

RefrigeratorDo you have food containers growing green fuzzies in the back of your refrigerator? It’s easy for leftovers and other food items to overstay their welcome in the fridge, creating a food safety hazard as well as unnecessary clutter. With Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday season just around the corner, now is the perfect time to super-clean your refrigerator. Follow these tips to get your refrigerator ready for Thanksgiving leftovers and other holiday treats:

  • Remove everything from the refrigerator.
  • Examine each container – discard outdated leftovers and any items of whose age you are uncertain or you don’t plan to use in the near future.
  • Remove shelves, drawers, and bins. Wash with a solution of baking soda and warm (not hot) water.
  • Clean the interior of the refrigerator with baking soda and warm water. Dishwashing detergent can leave a residue that can lead to odors if not rinsed thoroughly. Dry with a soft cloth or paper towel.
  • Clean each container before returning it to the refrigerator.
  • Wash the outside of the refrigerator with sudsy water (using hand dishwashing detergent), rinse, and dry. Wash the gaskets around the refrigerator doors – sticky gaskets can cause air leaks, costing you more energy over time.
  • Vacuum the dust off the condenser coils, usually on the back of the refrigerator, or under it. Dirty, dusty coils make the refrigerator work harder to cool and use more energy, costing you more money.
  • Remove and clean the “pan” or plastic tray at the very bottom of the refrigerator that collects the condensation or defrost water. Look in your care manual to find where this “pan” is located. Dust and moisture in this “pan” can cause mold to grow, causing health problems for people with allergies.
  • Clean the floor around and underneath the refrigerator.

Your fridge is now ready for the holidays!

Sources: My Florida Home Book – Taking Care of Your Home, Chapter 5. Taking Care of Indoor Features, University of Florida/IFAS Extension, 2008.



Author: Judy Corbus – jlcorbus@ufl.edu

Judy Corbus is the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent in Washington and Holmes Counties.

Judy Corbus

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2014/11/21/clean-out-your-fridge-for-the-holidays/

Spring Clean Your Finances


2014 moneyAs you are clearing out clutter, sprucing up, and getting ready for summer, you also should start your financial spring cleaning by figuring out where you stand financially. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

1.  Get organized.

Build a personal financial filing system; get out your financial paperwork and file it in order of importance. Separate bills –  that way, you can track them as they come in, reducing the chance of missed or late payments.

Use a plastic tote for a filing cabinet – these keep your files dry and are easy to carry from one room to the next should you need to.

2.  Create a budget.

How much money do you have? Are you spending more than you earn? If you don’t have a spending record, start one. You can still get on with your financial spring cleaning today. If you haven’t been keeping a record, just make a deliberate effort to start now. Try to note all your spending for the next month, right down to the candy bar. Then, in a month’s time, you’ll be able to see where your money is going and, hopefully, see some areas where you can cut back.

3.  Pay off Debt

Now, let’s discuss what most people agonize over, but is a very important subject:  debt. If you have any debt beyond a mortgage, you should try to focus on paying off this debt as quickly as possible. It’s also important to try to negotiate your interest rates down with your credit card company if you can. Although this option may not be available to everyone, especially if your credit is not good, it’s worth trying.

If you are not successful, you can use these steps to reduce debt:

  • Stop using credit; charging new items increases the balances on what you already owe.
  • Do not open new lines of credit.
  • Request a free copy of your credit report from www.annualcreditreport.com and honestly assess the problem.  Understanding your situation helps when trying to resolve debt issues. Stop denying that you have a debt problem and work on it.  You can analyze your debts using Powerpay®. This website gives you a personalized report and plan to reduce your debt based on your input.
  • Break your debt load into manageable chunks; define your goal and focus on reducing manageable amounts.

For more information on financial education and tools to help you get out of debt; contact your local county Family & Consumer Sciences Agent.



Author: Elizabeth – gorimani@ufl.edu

FCS faculty with University of Florida/IFAS Extension in Gadsden County


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2014/04/14/spring-clean-your-finances/

Be Clean and Safe in the Laundry Room

Photo credit:  American Cleaning Institute

Photo credit: American Cleaning Institute

Are you familiar with the new single-load liquid laundry packets?  They are a convenient new laundry product which contains highly concentrated detergent in single pouches.  However, if not stored properly, the packets can pose a danger to curious young children leading to injury from ingestion or exposure to the eyes.  The American Cleaning Institute urges parents and caregivers to keep these products in a secure location out of reach and sight of young children.

For best results with the laundry packets, follow these tips:

  • Like all other cleaning products, keep single-load liquid laundry packets out of the reach of children and pets between every load to prevent unintended exposure.
  • For best results, add the single-load liquid laundry packets to the bottom – also known as the drum – of the washing machine, both for top-loader and high-efficiency front-loader machines, before adding clothes. Do not put this product in your machine’s dispenser drawer.
  • Do not cut or tear the single-load liquid laundry packets. They are designed to dissolve completely in the machine, even in cold water.
  • Read the product label to determine how much product you should use.
  • Do not use the single-load liquid laundry packets for washing laundry by hand or to pretreat fabric.
  • If the single-load liquid laundry packets stick together, throw them away.  The packets can rupture if you try to separate them.
  • Handle this product with dry hands only, and remember to close the product container completely after each use to keep out moisture. The film that encases the laundry detergent is designed to dissolve quickly, even in small amounts of water. Store this product away from water.
  • Always ensure the re-closable bag or container is tightly sealed after use and during storage.
  • As with other laundry products, keep product in its original container with intact labels.
  • Store products away from food, as you would with other laundry products.
  • If you think a child has been exposed to a single-load liquid laundry packet, call your local poison center at 1-800-222-1222 immediately.

Take the KEY Pledge (one grand prize winner will receive one electronic gift card in the amount of $ 2,500.)

  • Keep single-load liquid laundry packets out of the reach of children.
  • Educate your family and friends about the safe use and storage of these new laundry products.
  • You serve a key role in laundry safety.

For more information, watch this short animated video available in both English and Spanish.

Source:  American Cleaning Institute



Author: Judy Corbus – jlcorbus@ufl.edu

Judy Corbus is the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent in Washington and Holmes Counties.

Judy Corbus

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2014/04/14/be-clean-and-safe-in-the-laundry-room/