The humble sponge is a power-tool in the kitchen—it soaks, scrubs, and rubs the dirt and grime away, leaving our dishes spotless. But even the sponge needs a little TLC—in fact, it's one of the dirtiest items in our kitchens .
Thankfully, cleaning your sponge can be easy and quick. Keep reading to find out how often you should be cleaning your sponge. Here are three different ways to clean it and how to keep it clean longer.
How Often Should You Clean Sponges?
As the item that cleans all the dirty items in your kitchen, it's no surprise that the sponge is one of the dirtiest items in a home. To keep sponges from harboring germs and bacteria , they should be cleaned daily (if you don't use a sponge daily, make sure you clean it each day you do use it). Depending on how often they're used, sponges should be replaced every two to four weeks.
Things You'll Need
There are three different methods for cleaning your sponge: bleach, a microwave, or a dishwasher. Here's what you'll need for each.
- Bleach (or vinegar)
- Warm water
- Microwave-safe bowl
Method 1: Bleach
As one of the strongest cleaners out there, cleaning your sponge with bleach is an easy win that can also clean and sanitize your kitchen sink too.
Step 1: Rinse
Once the dishes are done and the sink is clear, rinse out your dirty sponge and sink to rid them of any leftover pieces of food or dirt.
Step 2: Fill Up Your Sink
Next, fill up your sink with a gallon of warm water and 3/4 of a cup of bleach. This ratio can be doubled or tripled if you want a higher water level, thus sanitizing more of your sink.
Step 3: Soak Your Sponge
Place your sponge in the bleach and water solution, and let it soak for five minutes. Once this time has passed, drain the sink, rinse out your sponge, and let it air-dry.
You can also get similar results with white vinegar—soak your sponge in a bowl of white vinegar for five minutes before draining and rinsing.
Method 2: Microwave
A fast and easy sponge-cleaning solution comes in one of the most multipurpose kitchen tools—the microwave.
Step 1: Rinse
Before you microwave your sponge, rinse it out to ensure there aren't any large food particles left in it or smears of grime. Additionally, double check that there's no metal or plastic materials on the sponge, as these could be hazardous.
Step 2: Microwave
Next, soak your sponge in some clean water and place in it a bowl (a dry sponge could catch on fire in the microwave). Place the bowl in the microwave for one minute on high, then let the bowl and sponge cool off for a few minutes before taking it out. Once it's cooled, squeeze out any excess water and enjoy your newly cleaned sponge.
Method 3: Dishwasher
This method takes the longest, but it also has the least amount of work involved, making it a great choice for lazy, late-night clean ups.
Step 1: Rinse
Just like the microwave method, rinse out your dirty sponge to remove any excess food or grime before going any further.
Step 2: Place It in the Dishwasher
Next, take your sponge and place it in the top rack of the dishwasher. Unlike the microwave method, metallic scouring pads can be cleaned with this method too. Run it with the rest of your dirty dishes on a high-temperature setting. Once the cycle is finished, you'll have clean dishes and a clean sponge.
How to Keep Your Sponges Clean Longer
One of the best ways to extend your sponge's life depends on the way you store it. Excess moisture over long periods of time can harbor bacteria and germs, ensuring your sponge will need to be thrown out sooner rather than later.
So, to keep your sponge dry while it's not in action, rinse and wring it out after each time you use it. Additionally, store the sponge somewhere with lots of airflow so that it can dry quickly, like in a sponge rack or caddy filled with holes.
Cardinale, Massimiliano et al. "Microbiome Analysis And Confocal Microscopy Of Used Kitchen Sponges Reveal Massive Colonization By Acinetobacter, Moraxella And Chryseobacterium Species." Scientific Reports 7.1 (2017).