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The Kitchen Sponge – Dirtier Than A Toilet

(POR) Before we start, we need to say this – never leave a sponge in the bottom of the sink after finishing the dishes. Always (1) rinse it thoroughly, (2) squeeze it out, and (3) set it to dry above the sink to prevent it from soaking up dirty dish water and contaminants between uses. Leaving a sponge in the sink with wet dishes between washes is the fastest way to contaminate it with harmful bacteria and destroy (rot) it. And using a sponge like this just increases the chance of (1) spreading harmful bacteria, and (2) ultimately the possibility of food poisoning! Now some expert advice from Roxanne B. Sukol, medical director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Enterprise:

After a couple of weeks of normal use, kitchen sponges can be among the dirtiest objects in the home. Studies published by the University of Arizona over the past decade showed that a sponge can harbor 10-million bacteria per square inch and can be as much as 200,000 times dirtier than a toilet seat.

“There is a forest of bacteria, spores, even pathogens, in a sponge —not just one single culture,” cautions Dr. Sukol, who spent seven years in the field of environmental science and now works in preventive medicine. “It becomes contaminated the minute you touch it,” she says.

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Cleaning A Kitchen Sponge: There are ways to clean a sponge and keep salmonella, E. coli and other harmful bacteria counts very low. Washing it with antibacterial soap and hot water is effective to some degree, says Dr. Sukol, but the water will rarely be hot enough to render it completely sterile.

In a 2007 study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, microwaving a wet sponge for 60-seconds, decreased bacteria by nearly 100%. However, this comes with a WARNING — Do not do this with sponges containing metal of any kind! And for any other type of sponge, always make sure that it is very wet before microwaving. Otherwise it may melt down (plastic) or even catch on fire!

Aside from this, NaoNoMeu recommends a less hazardous method to help extend the life of a kitchen sponge – boiling it for 3-5 minutes in a little pot of water (video link).

Finally, cleaning a sponge is especially important if you’ve used it recently to clean up liquid from eggs or raw meat. So unless you want to be discarding sponges every two-weeks because of rapid contamination, clean it using either of the above two techniques after contact with raw meat or meat liquids. That will help to extend it’s life until it begins to fall apart.


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LINK to NaoNoMeu Archive: Kitchen Sponge Care

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