How to Clean Sponges, and Other Surprising Sources of Germs in Your Kitchen

| 7/6/2015 10:12:00 AM

Tags: germs, sponges Chelsea Clark, Washington,

You use a reusable bag to bring home your food, a sponge to clean your dishes after you cook, and a kitchen towel to dry those dishes off. But did you know that each of these items can be an unseen source of germs and bacteria?

Most of us probably have some bad habits when it comes to keeping our homes free of contamination. You might think that your bathroom is the dirtiest place in your house, but think again. Studies show that the kitchen is often the most contaminated spot in a household.[1] Learn how to clean sponges and other unexpected germ-laden kitchen items to reduce your exposure.


At the top of the list of contaminated kitchen items is the dish sponge.[1] The very thing we use to clean our dishes and wipe off our counters is usually one of the most-germ laden items in the kitchen; sponges are porous, moist environments that make the perfect home for growing bacteria.[2,3] This means that we are often spreading germs to our dishes, our countertop, our hands, and the rest of the house when we use our kitchen sponge.

How to Clean Sponges

Use dishcloths instead of sponges when you can. They are less prone to contamination. But if you prefer a sponge (I personally prefer using a sponge over a dishcloth) make sure to sanitize it often to rid it of harmful bacteria. This can be done in numerous ways, but my favorite technique is simple and doesn’t require harsh chemicals like bleach: to effectively clean your sponge of bacteria, mold, and yeasts, put your sponge in the dishwasher and run it in a cycle along with your dishes.[4] Store your sponge in a place that allows it to dry in between uses, and replace your sponge often for a fresh start.

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