Sponges are great for almost every cleaning project around the kitchen from doing the dishes to sweeping away crumbs and other food residue. They really are pretty versatile, but they can also hang onto traces of those chores in the nooks and crannies and become a full-blown breeding ground for bacteria.
Unfortunately, a quick rinse under hot water from the kitchen faucet is not sufficient cleaning. According to the USDA Food Safety Laboratory, regularly used kitchen sponges used to wash dishes can actually transfer bacteria to stainless steel surfaces, where they can survive for up to four days, gross!
Along those same lines, the pathogens transferred by our sponges to stainless steel surfaces were subsequently transferred to cut vegetables and other foods at varying rates. In fact, in a study of about ten kitchens in the US, 33% tested positive for E. coli and 67% of the sponges tested positive for fecal coliforms. All of this is to say it’s probably past time to clean your kitchen sponges, and we’re here to help you find out how.
How to Clean a Kitchen Sponge With Bleach
- Add about three-fourths of a cup of chlorine-based bleach to one gallon of hot water in a sink or deep dishpan. Remember to wear some protective rubber kitchen gloves if you are sensitive to chlorine bleach.
- Drop in your sponges and leave them to soak for five to ten minutes. This method works best for materials like cellulose and nylon scrubbing sponges.
- After soaking, remove the sponges and squeeze out excess water. Place your sponges on a drying rack to fully air-dry.
How to Clean a Kitchen Sponge in the Microwave
Using the microwave is the best way to get rid of almost all the germs, mold, and yeast hiding in your sponge, as discovered by scientists from the USDA and Michigan State University Extension. But, before you do that, check if your sponge has any metal or a plastic scrubbing pad. DO NOT place any type of sponge that has metallic fibers for scrubbing in the microwave to prevent sparking and fire.
- Start by thoroughly soaking the sponge so that it is fully saturated and dripping wet to prevent potential sparks and fire. Place the sponge on a microwave-safe plate or bowl.
- Set the microwave on high power. You should microwave wet cellulose sponges for two minutes and wet nylon scrubbing sponges for one minute. The sponges will be very hot so remember to allow them to cool before you touch them.
- Once they’re cool, wring out any excess water from the sponges and place them on an open drying rack to air-dry.
How to Clean a Kitchen Sponge in the Dishwasher
- Place your sponge on the top rack of your dishwasher. You can also use a dishwasher basket if you are concerned that the sponge may fall through the rack.
- Add your go-to dishwasher detergent and set the machine for a regular wash cycle with a heated drying cycle.
- If your sponge is not completely dry when the cycle is complete, remove it from the dishwasher and place it on a rack to fully air-dry.
How to Clean a Kitchen Sponge With Distilled White Vinegar
- Fill a dishpan or bowl with enough undiluted distilled white vinegar to completely submerge your sponge or sponges.
- Add the sponges to the vinegar and allow them to soak fully submerged for about five to ten minutes. Rinse the sponges in clean water and wring them out well. You can pour the remaining vinegar down your kitchen sink drain with a bit of baking soda to help remove build-up.
- Place the sponges in a drying rack to completely air-dry before using them again.
Check out Southern Living’s practical guide on how you can keep your kitchen sponges fresh and germ-free in a snap!
Tips to Keep Your Kitchen Sponge Clean Longer
- Rinse your sponge after every use in hot water.
- Place your rinsed wet sponges on a rack to air-dry quickly and help prevent bacterial growth between cleanings.
- Do not use your kitchen sponge to wipe up the juices from any meat products. Use a disposable paper towel instead.
- Remember to disinfect your sponges every other day.
- Dispose of older sponges that have begun to smell or fall apart, you should replace these.
- Keep your kitchen dishwashing sponges, floor sponges, and sponges for cleaning bathrooms or other areas around the house separate so as to avoid cross-contamination. (Remember to disinfect all of your cleaning sponges on a regular schedule, as well!)
How often should I wash my sponges?
Most cleaning professionals, like us, recommend that you clean and disinfect your sponges daily as a part of your regular cleaning schedule.
How often should I replace my sponges?
The answer is probably a lot more frequently than you may think. We recommend that you replace your sponges every one to two weeks. The frequency that you replace them really depends on how often you use your sponges. Keep an eye on the grime and foul smells as both are good indicators that it’s time to replace the sponge.
What are the risks of a dirty sponge?
For the most part, the bacteria that accumulate on sponges isn’t harmful. However, after some regular use or cleaning after meat preparation, they can have the potential to carry and spread bacteria like salmonella, E. coli and staphylococcus. Both of these can be quite harmful.
What can I use instead of a sponge?
Now that you’ve discovered how nasty a regularly used kitchen sponge can be, you may be thinking about potential replacements. In place of your usual sponge, you can use a nonporous silicone scrubber, machine-washable dishcloths, biodegradable Swedish dishcloths made of wood cellulose, or a compostable luffa scrubber. All of these are great alternatives.
Now that you know how to keep your kitchen sponges clean, you’re well on your way to a happier and healthier home! For more cleaning tips, tricks, and guides, check out our blog! It’s full of helpful hints and information straight from your favorite residential cleaning service in Boston. You can also contact us today to book your cleaning services and find out how we can help you keep your home happy, healthy, and tidy all year long.