#2: Clean Your Sponge!

The word clean has a lot of definitions but most often when we use the word clean we simply mean that something “looks clean”. Many of our cleaning tips will take things a step further. We don’t want our home to just look clean but we also want it to be free of germs and pathogens! The biggest offender of looking clean but being dirty is the kitchen sponge! Disease-causing bacteria can survive longer in the sponge because of the wet environment. What makes this even worse is that the sponge is our trusted companion to making the kitchen clean but the reality is that an unclean sponge could be spreading salmonella and other badness all over the place!

Luckily the fix is easy and already present in 90% of homes- the microwave! Research done at the University of Florida concluded that “People often put their sponges and scrubbers in the dishwasher, but if they really want to decontaminate them and not just clean them, they should use the microwave.” The researchers tested this by soaking sponges in a lot more types and quantity of bacteria than should be present in anybody’s kitchen (i.e. large volumes of fecal and other contaminants…yuk!) What they found was that “Two minutes of microwaving on full power mode killed or inactivated more than 99 percent of all the living pathogens in the sponges and pads.” This is great news!

Let’s break this down:

  • Add microwaving your sponge to the end of your kitchen cleaning routine. If you live with a lot of others that may not be as diligent as you are (you know who I mean =D) then add microwaving the sponge to the start of your kitchen cleaning routine too.
  • Make sure the sponge is wet. Microwaves work through water molecules and the effect is much greater when the sponge is wet.
  • The research says that high power for two minutes is needed for fully kill or inactivate the baddies but if you aren’t sure if your high power is the same as theirs then use something like 4 – 6 minutes for your sponge.
  • Bacillus cereus requires 4 minutes at high power. This bacteria is found in milk and other foods that are left out. If you find yourself tackling this kind of mess, or you just want to play it safe, then go for at least 4 minutes.
  • Replace your sponge with some regularity. For our household, I have found that replacement once every two weeks is ideal. Any longer and the frequent microwaving and cleaning starts to deteriorate the sponge.

Remember! You can’t change everything at once. Do your best to work microwaving your sponge into your routine until it becomes a habit!