Sorry, but your kitchen sponge is secretly filthy.
If you keep your kitchen spick and span but pay little attention to the cleanliness of your kitchen sponge, I’m afraid you are likely unknowingly spreading bacteria all over the place.
Yep, correct you should be cleaning your trusty old kitchen sponge quite regularly, in fact, every day or two.
It’s very common for kitchen sponges to be teeming with bacteria. Yes, gross, huh? In fact, studies have shown that 45 billion microbes per square centimetre have been found on kitchen sponges, according to a study published in Nature.com.
Given that kitchen sponges are used to wipe surfaces with raw meat and perhaps even contaminated produce, and they are also usually damp and warm themselves, they are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to multiply. Even the bacteria on our skin could potentially transfer to the sponge.
While most of the bacteria will not be harmful, you still do not want to spread this around the kitchen as you wipe down surfaces and appliances. The problem is, that unless you’re a scientist and are going to whip out your microscope to study the types of bacteria, you won’t be able to tell if your kitchen sponge contains the good or bad kind.
Studies have shown, however, some bad guys such as listeria, e. coli, campylobacter, and staphylococcus (all known to cause stomach bug-like symptoms) have been found on kitchen sponges. Yuck!
Here are four ultra-easy fixes to keep your kitchen sponge clean and bacteria-free.
1. The one-minute microwave blitz
Wet your sponge and pop it into the microwave for one minute. Yep, it’s that simple! The moisture and heat will kill the bacteria. To stay on the safe side, you should do the microwave kitchen sponge blitz once a day.
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2. Pop it in the dishwasher
Another super-simple method to ensuring your kitchen sponge is clean, is to pop it in the dishwasher and run it on the longest and hottest setting. Ideally, you would clean the sponge this way every few days
3. A bleach bath
If you’re into natural, non-toxic cleaning methods, you might want to look away. Another full-proof way to clean a dirty kitchen sponge is to simply soak the sponge in a diluted bleach bath. In the kitchen sink, combine a three-quarter cup of bleach with three litres of water and bath the sponge for five minutes. Again, you will want to do this at least once a week. Perhaps, interchanging with the dishwasher or microwave methods every other day.
4. If in doubt, chuck it out
Sorry to say, but if in doubt it might be time to bin it. After all, kitchen sponges are only meant to last a couple of weeks before replacing. So, if your sponge has a foul smell or is stubbornly grimy, it’s time to toss it.
Originally published as 4 hacks to keep kitchen sponges bacteria-free by Alexandra O’Brien.