How to clean and disinfect a kitchen sponge
You probably already knew that kitchen sponges are hotbeds of germs that can become one of the dirtiest objects in your kitchen. You likely use these sponges in wiping up spills, cleaning dishes, and then leave them in a dish or on the sink in room temperature, nice and damp, then wash your dishes again.
Scientifically speaking, one single cell of bacteria can grow to become more than 8 million cells in less than 24 hours! That’s one nasty bacteria!
Wiping your counters with a previously used sponge can promote the transfer of bacteria from one surface to another. While many of us usually clean our sponges by rinsing them with hot soapy water or throw them in a dishwasher, the question is, can you really disinfect your kitchen sponge? The answer: Absolutely!
No matter how diligent and meticulous you are when it comes to cleaning, your sponges will not last forever, however, washing and disinfecting them is necessary to prevent any sort of bacterial growth, because it’s better to be safe, than sorry.
According to studies, here are the most effective ways to sanitize your kitchen sponge.
The Microwave method
One way to disinfect a kitchen sponge is by microwaving it for a full 2 minutes- just make sure that you never microwave a sponge containing metal. Most bacteria can survive about 30 seconds in the microwave, however heating up your sponges for two minutes at full power is enough to kill 99.9% of notorious germs like the E.Coli and Norovirus that can cause moderate to severe abdominal illnesses. A dry sponge on the other hand, can literally cause fire, hence you need to saturate your sponge with water prior to hitting that “start” button. Look out for a burst of steam when you open the microwave door and never touch it with your bare hands as it will be extremely hot! Allow it to cool and use tongs to pick it up.
The Dishwasher method
Putting your sponge in the dishwasher on the longest and hottest setting will help kill 99.9% of germs. Place the sponge in the utensil compartment, load the dishwasher like normal together with dishes, cutlery, and detergent. Run your dishwasher using the heated dry setting or use the “sanitize” option if desired.
Mix 3/4 cup of bleach with one gallon of water and soak your kitchen sponge for about five minutes, then rinse it. The bleach solution can potentially kill 99.9% of harmful pathogens, thus leaving your sponges squeaky clean, inside and out.
The Organic way
For an eco-friendly way of killing bacteria, soak your kitchen sponges for at least five minutes or even overnight in white vinegar, then air-dry under the sun. This method can kill roughly 99.6% of harmful germs in sponges.
While there is really no recommendation for how long you can use your sponge, it is a good idea to retire your kitchen sponge to other general cleaning duties (use it in cleaning other areas like the bathroom, etc), since the bacterial ecosystem in the sponge evolves over time.
Always remember, whichever kitchen sponge you are using, don’t forget to wring out excess liquid after each use. This way, it will dry faster and will prevent bacterial growth.