The kitchen sponge is a handy and common clean up tool! Sponges save both money and the environment because they are re-useable. What you may not be aware of is that some sponges are actually dirtier than an average toilet seat. Some studies have found that kitchen sponges contain as many as 10 million bacteria per square inch. If you routinely use a sponge to wipe your kitchen counter top, plates and cups, or cutting board, those surfaces could also end up being dirtier than your toilet seat! Before you swear off sponges, here are a few tips to help you keep them clean and safe!
1. Let kitchen sponges dry thoroughly between uses.
Rinse and thoroughly wring the sponge after use. Purchase a binder clip (from office supply store) and clip it to the bottom of the sponge. The clip will serve as a “base” and allow the sponge to stand upright so that it will dry faster.
2. Sanitize your sponges!
Never let food and dirt remain on the sponge, and never use a sponge to wipe a cutting board or plate used for cleaning raw chicken. Sponges can be sanitized by soaking them in 1 quart of hot water mixed with 3 tablespoons of household bleach. Soak for five minutes, squeeze excess water out, and let air-dry.
3. Use your microwave!
Make sure your sponge is thoroughly wet and then microwave on high for 2 minutes. You can also place the sponge in a microwave safe bowl with a small amount of water. Do not microwave any sponge or scrub pad that contains metal, do not microwave dry sponges, and do not microwave sponges that contain any type of cleaning solution or chemical! Also, be very cautious when handling freshly microwaved sponges as they can be extremely hot.
After microwaving the sponge, there will be quite a bit of steam and moisture in your microwave… which provides the perfect opportunity to remove some of that stuck-on gunk and debris from the microwave interior!
4. Replace sponges often!
The average sponge should be replaced after two to eight weeks, depending on frequency of use!
Always remember, if your sponge has developed an unpleasant or musty odor, it is probably best to be cautious and throw it out!
Microwave sponges at your own risk! Although many laboratory studies have been unable to duplicate this result, there have been rare instances of people reporting sponges catching fire while being microwaved. Make sure you adjust microwave times according to size of sponge and power of microwave. Never microwave metal, never microwave a dry sponge, and never microwave a sponge that contains cleaning solutions or other chemicals.