This Kitchen Tool is Dirtier Than Your Toilet Seat


Chances are, sitting near your kitchen sink is a common cleaning item: a sponge. Although this universal cleaning tool is associated with cleanliness; sponges harbor thousands of dangerous bacteria.

But my mother never advised me about kitchen sponges or when to throw one away.

Have you ever wondered when a sponge was completely used and ready to be tossed?

You use them in hot, soapy water, so you may presume your kitchen sponges are remotely clean.  According to University of Arizona professor, Charles P. Gerba, also known as Dr. Germ, kitchen sponges harbor bacteria – lots of them. Dr. Gerba teaches in the Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science.

The sponge’s moist, micro-crevices that make them a dynamite, flexible cleaning tool, create an oh-so-cozy home for germs. They can harbor 10 million bacteria per square inch of sponge, and it is important to remember these dangerous bacteria can be easily transferred from surface to surface when cleaning your countertops. So now you know that your sponge is dangerous.  What do you do?

Choice #1:

Immediately toss all of them.  Replace them with new sponges.

Choice #2:

According to a Good Housekeeping article on how to clean a sponge, there are six ways to clean a sponge: running it through the dishwasher, microwave, or washing machine, or trying a bleach, ammonia, or vinegar soak.

The Good Housekeeping crew tested all six and reported results in this article.

A study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that microwaving a wet sponge for 60 seconds, or running one through a regular dishwashing cycle, decreased bacteria by nearly 100 percent.

Sponges are 200,000 times dirtier than a toilet seat, according to decades of research conducted at the University of Arizona.

When it doubt, toss it out. When was the last time you cleaned your sponge?

About the author

Susan Hall
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Susan joined Baylor many years ago when Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas was the only Baylor facility in the area. When not at work, she’s outside – Big Bend National Park is her favorite with Glacier National Park a close second.

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This Kitchen Tool is Dirtier Than Your Toilet Seat