What You Need to Know About Cleaning Sponges

spongesMany home kitchens use sponges for cleaning up messes or for quickly getting up a spills. But sponges house a high source of germs if not cleaned continuously. When selecting a sponge which one do you choose? Today, we will discuss – the standard rubber sponge.

Rubber Sponges

Excellent for most cleaning jobs in the kitchen and other areas around the house, sponges are generally used for cleaning various surfaces. Made from cellulose wood fibers or foamed plastic polymers, sponges provides the perfect environment for harmful bacteria, food pathogens, yeast and molds to grow and multiply – especially when they are allowed to remain wet between uses.

So how can you keep them clean?

  • Clean sponges daily: Sanitize your sponge to lower the risk of cross-contamination. Disinfect your sponge in a bleach/water solution (1/2 t concentrated bleach to 1 quart of warm water) for about 2/3 minutes. Alternately, one can also disinfect a sponge using the microwave. The USDA found that 99% of bacteria, yeasts and molds were killed by microwaving a damp sponge for about 1 minute.
  • Replace frequently: Though you may use your sponge daily, after about 2/3 uses, sponges may be loaded with bacteria. And even with regular cleaning, sponges should be replaced regularly to keep bacteria and germs at bay.
  • Store sponges in a dry location: After sanitizing a sponge, let the sponge rest in a location that will give it a chance to dry out. This will help to minimize bacteria growth.
  • Don’t wipe up meat juices with sponges. Doing so will increase your chances of spreading harmful food borne pathogens that can cause illness. Instead, use paper towels or disinfectant wipes.
  • Avoid using a sponge to wipe off counter-tops. Because sponges contain millions of harmful bacteria, reduce yours and your family’s chance of contracting germs. Instead, think about using a dishcloth. Although less porous than a sponge, a dish cloth does not have the cavernous moist spaces that the sponges do. But be careful, dishcloths can hold just as much bacteria as sponges do without proper cleaning.

In the end, use sponges sparingly in the kitchen. And by all means, keep them clean and dispose them regularly.

Resource: Kitchen Sponge Safety Tip Sheet

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