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You should probably throw out your kitchen sponge

New research shows cleaning it won't save you from the bacteria.
The thing you use to clean your dishes is as filthy as shit. Photo: ISTOCK

There are plenty of filthy, germy items we interact with on a daily basis, and we usually just try not to think about the gross factor or we wouldn’t be able to go on. Our iPhones, our pets (not an item, but still), the office door knob, are a few that come to mind. Oh, and the kitchen sponge. Ironically, the tool that you use to clean your dirty dishes is bacteria-ridden and there’s nothing you can do to disinfect it. According to a new study published in Scientific Reports, your best bet is to toss it in the garbage after a week’s use and get a new one. 

Researchers from Germany found that the trusted methods of cleaning the grease pad, boiling it in water or nuking in the microwave, are little more than old wives’ tales and are not effective at removing the bacteria. In fact, trying to clean the thing could make it worse: of the 14 used kitchen sponges that they tested, the ones that had been sanitized contained even more bacteria than those that had been left alone in their muck. 

They discovered millions of microbes, including one known as Moraxella osloensis, which could be the culprit if your kitchen stinks. It also can cause infections in folks with a weakened immune system. According to Science Daily, when the researchers examined the sponges under the microscope, they determined a “bacterial density...found only in feces.” 

The researchers concluded that “sponge sanitation methods appear not sufficient to effectively reduce the bacterial load in kitchen sponges and might even increase the shares of [disease]-related bacteria.” Instead, they suggested “a regular (and easily affordable) replacement of kitchen sponges, for example, on a weekly basis.” 

A tad wasteful, and that kind of weekly purchase, while no cold-brew coffee or avocado toast, certainly adds up after time. But, we suppose, that’s the price you pay to keep from perpetuating a grime fest in the very same place you put the dishes you eat off of. You know, you don’t want to shit where you eat... Now what to do about everything else you touch in a day?