We’ll get straight to the point: kitchen sponges are dirty. They’re so full of germs that it’s one of the dirtiest things in your home, surpassing your toilet and the trash can.
Think about it. You probably use your sponge to clean most things in your kitchen including the chopping board, sink and countertop. Any pathogens previously on the surfaces you’ve cleaned are now on your sponge. Your sponge is so germ infested that there's 10 million bacteria per square inch on it, according to a study published by the University of Arizona. That’s 200,000 times dirtier than a toilet seat.
The number one culprit you should be looking at is your chopping board. Your chopping board, the one you’ve been using to chop up raw meat and veggies, could potentially have the most common food-poisoning bacteria namely salmonella and E. coli. It doesn’t help either that the most environment of the sponge and its little nooks and crannies provide suitable breeding ground for them.
“Soap and water don't kill germs -- they only wash germs away. But if you have a dirty sponge to start with, you have a nice layer of germs to cover your plate,” Dr. Philip Tierno, a clinical professor at the Microbiology and Pathology departments at NYU Langone, told The Huffington Post. And this doesn’t just apply to plates, it includes everything you’ve cleaned your sponge with including your baby’s bottles. Therefore, you could be transferring all the nasties on your sponge to your baby. Not good.
The best thing to wash your baby’s bottle with is, most definitely, a bottle brush mainly because of two things. First, it can easily reach all the parts of the bottle, including the bottom, unlike a sponge. Second, it’s solely dedicated to your little one’s bottles and it’s definitely not touching any surfaces raw meat has been on. If you currently don't own one, go buy one.
If the thought of a germ-infested kitchen sponge still bothers you, here are a couple of ways you can disinfect it.
1. With bleach Mix one part chlorine bleach with nine parts water (that’s the bleach being dumped into the water). Fully submerge your sponge in the mixture for 30 seconds. That’s enough to clean all the germs on your sponge. Then, rinse your sponge thoroughly, wring it of excess water and allow todry. The drying is important as germs, as mentioned, like moist environments.
2. Using the microwave Turn the microwave on high. Place the sponge in a bowl of water making sure it’s fully submerged. And, this is important, once the bowl with the sponge is spinning in the microwave, you have to make sure that the water bubbles. The water has to boil for the sponge to disinfect. Afterwards, allow your sponge to dry.
Sources: November 17, 2014. "Your Kitchen Sponge Is As Revolting As It Smells" (huffingtonpost.com) December 2, 2013. "Kitchen Sponge Confidential" (wsj.com)