Don't wash your turkey! Here's why

This bad habit can make you sick.

Alina Bradford CNET Contributor
Alina Bradford has been writing how-tos, tech articles and more for almost two decades. She currently writes for CNET's Smart Home Section, MTVNews' tech section and for Live Science's reference section. Follow her on Twitter.
Alina Bradford

Cleaning before Thanksgiving visitors show up is just part of the tradition. You want to make a good impression, right? 

Out of all the things on your list, there's one thing that you shouldn't be cleaning. The turkey. 

Skip the rinse

No doubt you'll see plenty of recipes in cookbooks and online that instruct you to rinse your turkey before you start to cook it. Just don't do it, though, says the US Department of Agriculture

Rinsing your turkey is supposed to wash off all of the icky germs. But actually, rinsing doesn't remove any germs and may end up spreading dangerous bacteria around your kitchen. 

The bacteria -- including E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella -- can lead to potential food poisoning if it contaminates other foods or cooking supplies. 

10 Thanksgiving mistakes you don't want to make

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How to make your turkey safe

The only real way to kill bacteria on your turkey is to cook it to 165 degrees F at its center. Be sure to use a meat thermometer to check the temp. Don't rely on the little red popup thermometer that comes with the turkey.

Pro tip: To be sure your turkey is safe to eat, check out the recent turkey recalls to make sure your bird isn't on the list.

Turkey still frozen? Here's how to defrost it, fast.

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