Sanitation tips on how you can keep your dirty dish sponges clean.
E. coli, salmonella – nasty things can lurk in a kitchen sponge. Our resourceful research editor, Mary Levitski, shows you how to keep it germ-free.
How to keep dish sponges germ-free
Step 1: Forever moist and full of dark nooks and crannies, a kitchen sponge is ideal breeding ground for all kinds of harmful bacteria. Sterilize it on a regular basis, preferably daily. The best method is soaking it for a few minutes in a mixture of two teaspoons chlorine bleach and one cup water. But if you’re looking for a more environmentally friendly approach, you can also place the sponge in a pot of boiling water for five minutes and hang it to dry.
Step 2: To deter germs from thriving in your sponge, keep it as dry as possible. Always rinse and wring it well before depositing it in a designated spot that has good drainage. If possible, the spot should also be in direct sunlight, which will significantly speed up drying time.
Step 3: Replace the sponge about once a month. If your sponge has a foul odour even after you sanitize it, toss it out immediately.
Give your sponge a home that’s beautiful and practical. The Meridian from Umbra ($5, umbra.com) attaches to the wall of your sink with a suction cup. The fun plastic lattice pattern and ventilated bottom keep air circulation at a maximum, encouraging fast drying.
To keep bacteria in check, consider replacing your dish sponge with an alternative.
Made of peach pits or corn cobs, these stringy scrubs are so good at resisting microbes that you can use them sans soap! Goodbye Detergent! The Original Spaghetti SCRUBS, $10 US per pack of 2 each, vat19.com.
The recycled plastic bristles dry quickly when this brush is propped up or hung by its bamboo handle. Be Good Dish Brush, $8, williams-sonoma.com.
A washable microfibre dishcloth is a great substitute for a sponge. No matter how grimy it gets, just toss it in the washing machine to disinfect. We love this one’s scrub pad for lifting stuck-on foods. MÜ Kitchen Dishcloth in Red Poppy, $7, bedbathandbeyond.ca.
TIP: To minimize cross-contamination, designate a sponge for each surface: one each for dishes, countertops and floors.