Dish Sponges The single germiest item in your home is your average kitchen sponge. You heat them up just a little bit and they literally pop! Indeed, a 2017 study found sinks and sponges are huge harborers of fecal bacteria in 44% of homes. Of course, this method will leave many still alive since there are billions in the sponge. California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) Policy. After logging in you can close it and return to this page. When we do the dishes, we generally wring out the kitchen sponge after use. Microwaving the sponge will knock down the bacteria living in it by about a million-fold, scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported back in 2009. Is it sitting on the back edge of the sink? But when we looked carefully at the study, we … Use the bleach you have on hand, but to be on the safe side, let the sponge soak for 3 minutes instead of 2. They’re not that expensive and you can find them at your local dollar or big box store. The media reports were simply not accurate. hide caption. The truth of the matter is, that pretty yellow, blue, or pink sponge is holding approximately 45 billion bacteria per cubic centimeter. If you use your kitchen sponge daily, you should change it out every week or so. Microwave the damp kitchen sponge 5 minutes. I fed them, harvested them, fished out their genes, studied their guts — and killed them — day after day after day. If not, together we can make your kitchen one of your most favorite and safest rooms in your home. STK Heavy Duty Silicone Scrubber Sponges (10 Pack) - Modern Antimicrobial Kitchen Sponges - 100% Mold Mildew and Bacteria Resistant - Zero Smell Technology - Silicone Sponge - 10x More Durable 4.2 out of 5 stars 699 Like a nightclub, regular cleaning may help but many sponge owners don't seem to be cleaning their sponges … It has also … Yes, your kitchen sponge is a huge and shady nightclub for bacteria. Before placing it on a drying rack you’ll want to: The good thing about sponges is, they’re pretty darn cheap, so it shouldn’t hurt your wallet to throw them out on a bi-weekly to monthly basis. That’s about the same amount found in an average human stool sample. Egert has no idea exactly what these species are, but one is related to bacteria that give your dirty laundry that stinky, musty smell. I'm Stacey. The best way to store a sponge is by using a sponge drying rack, or someplace where air can circulate through the fibers. Even the authors of this study were surprised by this number. It was funded by the Institute of Applied Research (IAF) of Furtwangen University and published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Scientific Reports on an open-access basis, so it can be read free of charge online. Even if you’re not using it that often you still need to replace it at a minimum of once a month. Print. Please log in again. Strains of germs range from campylobacter, salmonella, and … When using this method, always soak the kitchen sponge in water first because a dry sponge can start a fire. To be sure you don’t get your new toilet cleaning sponges confused with your kitchen, you’ll want to cut off a corner of the old sponge. Doing this will avoid any confusion you might have, especially if both sponges are the same color. And it makes you think twice about using the sponge to wipe up your dining room table. Your kitchen sponge: A world of disease. Instead, it was a line in the study's abstract: Two species of bacteria "showed significantly greater proportions in regularly sanitized sponges [compared to uncleaned sponges], thereby questioning such sanitation methods in a long term perspective," the study says. Kitchen sponges are the No. They are weaklings. Does that mean you can’t use it? So what in the heck is going on with this new sponge study? If your kitchen hygiene there, you can turn the kitchen into a real spinner in a short time. Did you know a household kitchen sponge holds 200,000 times more germs than your entire house? Germs are everywhere, and they are part of life. "I feel now that the comments they make about not recommending washing in the abstract are really, really misleading.". « How to Understand Food Best Used-By, Sell-By, and Use-By Dates, 3 Utterly Disgusting Things You Should Avoid Like The Plague At A Restaurant ». I have both Great Value and Dollar General bleach in my home. Previous research has shown that kitchen sponges contain more active bacteria than anywhere else in the house—including the toilet. I love my kitchen. How about in an old margarine tube under the sink? By Alexis Hobbs. Wash it with soap and rinse it thoroughly after each use. "Some people may think that microwaving a sponge kills its tiny residents, but they are only partly right," the Times story continued. En español | Dangerous bacteria can linger in a dish sponge even after attempts to sterilize it, according to a new German study published in the journal Scientific Reports.. One of the most important aspects of keeping a clean kitchen is to ensure the food we feed our family is safe and free from any foodborne pathogens. Fill your sink with a gallon of water and 3/4 cup of bleach and submerge the sponge in it for five minutes. This new trick is the most effective way to prevent food poisoning, by far. "If you're dealing with raw juices from meat or poultry, you should be using paper that can be disposed of," Quinlan says. The study, published in Scientific Reports, undertook a thorough investigation into how many critters are living in used kitchen sponges. We know that heating will kill the pathogens," says Jennifer Quinlan, a food microbiologist at Drexel University. Something smelled fishy here. Hey, that’s great but what about that other teeny-tiny percentage it doesn’t kill? Are you kidding? Microwaving and boiling sponges were shown to reduce bacteria by 60 percent, but this only worked in a lab setting, not in used kitchen sponges. The kitchen is a breeding ground for a number of bacteria. This bug is responsible for infections in people with weak immune systems. 1 source of germs in the whole house. It … Since the kitchen is the most pivotal location in our homes, it's the one we must ensure is clean and safe. Although the microwave will kill most of the bacteria, it’s not going to kill all of it. SMELL RESISTANT: Antibacterial & Antimicrobial SKURA style sponges are crafted from a patented polyurethane foam base, with an antimicrobial agent in the foam and scouring surface that inhibits the growth of odor-causing bacteria, mold, and mildew on the sponge. "But remember, the bacteria we want to kill are the ones that will make you sick.". By doing this you’ll stand a much greater risk at cross-contamination, which can promote a foodborne illness. "Even then the methods were very vague.". In the NSF study, 86% of sponges had mold and yeast, 77% contained Coliform bacteria, and 18% were filled with staph bacteria. Ring it out as best as you can to remove all of the excess water. For the first time, scientists have carefully analyzed all the critters in a kitchen sponge. Wiping your hands on a dishtowel after using a kitchen sponge. Researchers from Furtwangen University described kitchen sponges as a "common microbial hot spot," International Business Times reports.The study included DNA analysis of 14 kitchen sponges taken from private … That’s crazy! Sink. Intrigued? The researchers also … Kitchen sponges “Sponges are a breeding ground for bacteria, so they need to be replaced relatively often,” Berliet says. But when we looked carefully at the study, we realized much of the news coverage about it was incorrect. If you want to rid them of pesticides or germs from other grocery shoppers, you’ll want to invest in a vegetable scrubber. That result in itself is pretty remarkable. The kitchen is the heart of every household and it's so important to keep our family healthy & safe at all times. The only issue with this is, most household bleach ranges anywhere between 5.25% to 6.0% sodium hypochlorite. The problem with sponges is that they don’t dry out between uses and the moisture helps harmful bacteria multiply. "There's hardly any habitat on Earth where you'll find similar densities of bacteria, except for the human intestinal tract.". Do you disinfect your kitchen sponges, throw them out, or don’t even use them? Back in 2007, I was a biochemistry postdoc slaving away in the lab. Are the findings upturning decades of public health recommendations? For the first time, scientists have carefully analyzed all the critters in a kitchen sponge. "That's why we cook food. Do you honestly think the fibers of the dishtowel are going to repeal the bacteria? Enter your best email address to get your free refrigerated food storage guide with helpful storage tips. Now, on the other hand, Dollar General bleach doesn’t list the active ingredients on the packaging at all. The study, conducted by researchers based in Germany, found that kitchen sponges have 'the capability to collect and spread bacteria with a probable pathogenic potential.'. Putting your sponge in the dishwasher is a very easy and effective disinfection method. Use the hottest and longest setting on your dishwasher. Some sponges are made up of a synthetic metallic property that can catch on fire in the microwave. Let it dry out between uses to minimize the undesirable lifeforms. Bacteria and viruses need warm, moist conditions to colonize your sponge, so leaving a sponge in the sink can cause the microbes and smells to grow. "I replace mine every one to two weeks," she says. Just because you’re using soap, it doesn’t necessarily mean your sponge won’t be harboring any harmful bacteria. Kitchen sponges are notorious for being bacteria-ridden. Forty-five billion microbes per square centimeter? If you still want to keep it, you may want to put it in rotation to clean the inside of your toilet bowl or to clean the insides of the trash can or recycle buckets. The USDA recommends putting it in the dishwasher with a heated dry cycle, or wetting the sponge and popping it in the microwave for a minute. Stop Using a Microwave to "Kill" Bacteria on Your Kitchen Sponge. Place the wet sponge on a paper plate. The login page will open in a new tab. Kitchen hygiene: In the dishwasher, in the refrigerator, in the sponge: various germs are hidden everywhere in the kitchen. Why are Sponges So Dirty? The Mail Online carried a reasonably accurate report of the research. Due to the number of bacteria the sponge harbors, and regardless if you disinfect the sponge, you may not have disinfected it thoroughly enough. When your sponge starts to smell like rotten blue cheese mixed with curdled milk, or just dirty smelling, it’s time to go. And in a study published earlier this year, Quinlan and her colleagues detected pathogens in only about 1 to 2 percent of sponges collected from kitchens in Philadelphia. Why do you ask? "It doesn't sterilize the sponge," she says. This is the third and final way to disinfect your kitchen sponge. 2. Sponges can spread harmful bacterial all over your kitchen. By starting today, and implementing these simple food storage solutions, you can save time, money, headaches, and give you peace of mind by learning the simple & actionable techniques to store your food properly. "After you contacted me for an interview, I read the study in great detail," she says. The study stated that the sponges were either microwaved or put in hot, soapy water. Julia Child Was Wrong: Don't Wash Your Raw Chicken, Folks. Kitchen sponges: the dirtiest items in your home. Hi There! Don't keep sponges around for too long. "We do not want to make public health recommendations based on five sponges from Germany," Quinlan says. Food Safety Superhero provides food safety, kitchen safety, kitchen cleaning & disinfection tips, as well as, food storage solutions. As it turns out, germ experts say the average kitchen sponge really is one of the dirtiest items in the home. The kitchen sink and the washing sponge are the worst culprits because they are usually damp, a condition that bacteria like. After you use your microwave to disinfect the sponge, make sure you disinfect the microwave immediately after. The same thing goes for cutting boards. This conclusion just didn't fit with my firsthand experience as a scientist. It becomes problematic when the body is confronted with (too many) pathogenic germs. Studies have reported you should use a minimum of 8.25% sodium hypochlorite. There's been evidence that using a bleach solution is the best way to clean a sponge, but truly, the only way to ensure you're working with a clean sponge is to replace it once a week. 7. If you still want to keep a sponge in your kitchen, the best bet would be to always wash your hands with hot soapy water after using the sponge. I’d love to know what the other 94% is. Place it in a shallow microwave-safe container. A sponge can be cleaned and sanitized safely if you follow some guidelines. "That could actually encourage the bacteria.". Let it complete the full drying cycle before removing your kitchen sponge. The best way to preserve your food is by utilizing proper food storage techniques. Not great. Although the microwave will kill most of the bacteria, it’s not going to kill all of it. due to the different materials that make up each type of sponge. And then you can rest easy that washing the dishes will not make you sick. "That's reasonable to me.". If you scale that up, that's like stuffing all the people who live in Manhattan into the Rockefeller ice rink. "We found 362 different species of bacteria, and locally, the density of bacteria reached up to 45 billion per square centimeter," says Markus Egert, a microbiologist at Furtwangen University in Germany, who led the study. The study was carried out by researchers from Justus-Liebig University Giessen, Furtwangen University and the German Research Centre for Environmental Health, all in Germany. Visit this article: Types of Bacteria Found on Money. You can also place your sponge in the utensil holder; however, more than likely you’ll need to fold it a bit for it to fit. Can you say the same thing about yours? "Your Kitchen Sponge Is Gross, and Cleaning It Isn't Helping," New York magazine's headline read. While in theory, the utensil holder sounds like the best option, there’s a slight possibility the hot water and detergent won’t be able to reach the folded part of the sponge. A dirty kitchen sponge can breed bacteria and contaminate your kitchen. "So when you microwave the sponge," she says, "it will likely get rid of them all" — if they are even there in the first place. "Cleaning a Dirty Sponge Only Helps Its Worst Bacteria, Study Says," The New York Times put it. Bacteria from a kitchen sponge A sponge can be a medium for the growth of harmful bacteria or fungi, especially when it is allowed to remain wet between uses. There turns out to be a huge number. Back in August, a study came out about bacteria in kitchen sponges that sent home chefs into a frenzy. "What really irked me is that you had to go all the way into the supplemental material to find how people reported washing the sponges," Quinlan says. Back in August, a study came out about bacteria in kitchen sponges that sent home chefs into a frenzy. But the heat targets the dangerous ones, Quinlan says. I'm so happy you stopped by. The kitchen sponge that does not smell is the first priority of every person who is health-conscious. If you think your cell phone is dirtier than your toilet, the kitchen sponge has that one beat. Despite recent news reports, there is something you can do about it. And these bacteria are actually quite rare in sponges, Quinlan says. The drier it is the better. Wiping that sponge on other surfaces – your hands, for instance, or the kitchen counter – can leave a trail of microbes in its wake. Great Value is listed as 6.0% sodium hypochlorite and 94% other. A kitchen sponge can tend to harbor unwanted bacteria such as salmonella, pseudomonas and E. coli. Clean the sponge every few days. If you’re going to use a kitchen sponge, use it specifically for one purpose only. And the results were jawdropping. But we’ve all lived with roommates or family members who do the opposite. But that finding isn't what got people riled up. In other words, there can be spots on your kitchen sponge with just as high concentrations of bacteria as in a toilet. This is because the kitchen provides the perfect environment for different types of bacteria to breed and thrive. Why? 3. Wet sponge lying on the counter is the favorite habitat for bacteria to grow rapidly and produces smell, mildew, and mold. "It may nuke the weak ones, but the strongest, smelliest and potentially pathogenic bacteria will survive.". Wiping meat juice off a plate, then using that same sponge to clean dishes. Anyone who has worked with food-borne pathogens — or their close relatives — knows that these little critters aren't "the strongest." This guide is your secret weapon to keeping your food fresh, even if you don't eat it right away! Instead, families should stick with the same recommendations Quinlan has given for years: 1. If you’re gonna do this, use a paper towel. Even after you wash it and rinse it. "That's a very huge number of bacteria, indeed," Egert tells NPR. The purpose of Food Safety Superhero is to help you keep a safe, happy, and healthy kitchen. If … By some estimates, they are dirtier than toilet seats. Therefore, you want to make it your mission to disinfect a sponge in the best way possible to avoid illness, especially now with COVID-19 adding to our collective misery. Microwave Sterilizes Sponges In the study, published in the Journal of Environmental Health, researchers evaluated the effects of zapping sponges … According to a 2017 study published in the journal Scientific Reports , samples taken from kitchen sponges harbored 362 different kinds of bacteria in incredibly large quantities of up to 45 billion per square centimeter. You just put a gross stinky bacteria-laden sponge that’s probably filled with fecal bacteria, parasites, and other types of bacteria in the same place you’re planning on heating your Hot Pocket. To prevent cross-contamination, each sponge should have its specific job and you shouldn’t intermingle them with other duties. The solution to your problem isn't buying less food, but to learn how to store it the correct way, where it will remain fresh. In the study, published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Food Protection, 15% of … The latter can actually make the sponge stinkier, Quinlan says. NSF International is a non-profit agency that sets safety standards for water filters and other equipment. With all of that, you’re probably wondering how to kill bacteria in a kitchen sponge? Just five species of bacteria are responsible for more than 90 percent of hospitalizations due to food-borne illnesses. Jan 14, 2016 This content is … Despite recent news reports, there is something you can do about it. Here are three ways to clean a kitchen sponge—and one thing you should never do. Sure, that may seem like you’re throwing money down the drain, but the truth of the matter is, it’s still breeding bacteria. When a recent study suggested that cleaning your sponge can promote the growth of harmful bacteria, coverage went viral in no small part because most everyone has one sitting next to their sink. That was true in the NSF International survey of U.S. homes, where 77 percent of the sponges and dish cloths contained coliform bacteria, 86 percent had yeast and mold, and 18 percent had Staph bacteria. What would you say if I told you all you needed were some simple & actionable storage guidelines for keeping your refrigerated food fresh? Nope, heck I’m sure a few of the bacteria spores are using the fibers of the dishtowel as a hammock. Even then, the amount of the pathogens present was very small, her team reported in the Journal of Food Protection. Mix 3/4 cup of bleach in one gallon of water and soak the sponge for five minutes, then rinse – and that's it. They state every home harbors different bacteria – which is understandable – but they did find a great deal of salmonella and staphylococcus in a kitchen sponge. The study also looked at only five sponges that people said they "cleaned" regularly — and study participants did not say whether this cleaning took place in the microwave or in soapy water. Using the microwave is another great way to kill bacteria in a kitchen sponge. A 2017 study found that the kitchen sponge you’re using may contain as many as 45 billion bacteria per square centimeter. Use 1/2 teaspoon of bleach to a quart of warm water. The other is related to bacteria that, on rare occasions, cause infections in people with suppressed immune systems. "Nobody would recommend hot, soapy water as a way to disinfect a sponge," Quinlan says. However, it made much of the fact that some of th… Place your freshly rinsed kitchen sponge on the top rack nestled between two slats. There is a very strong possibility you can transfer some of the sponges’ bacteria to your family member. It's time to stop wasting money throwing away food that spoiled before you were able to eat it. Egert and his team didn't find any of these food-borne-illness-causing bugs in their 14 sponges. Massimiliano Cardinale-Dominik Kaiser-Tillmann Lueders-Sylvia Schnell-Markus Egert – https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-06055-9. Not at all, Quinlan says. Neither of these relatives are known to cause food poisoning. Share in a comment below! It’s also the one that makes sponges smell… Make sure you use the heat setting when drying. Keep the sponge away from raw meat. Scrubbing fruit and vegetable skin. Lather a sponge with dish soap and then flush it with hot water. How often, though, depends on how frequently they’re used. It must remain in the microwave for no less than 2 minutes; however, due to the variance in wattage of microwaves, 2 minutes may not be long enough. Another important factor is, if your sponge isn’t thoroughly wet, it can cause a fire, regardless if it has synthetic metallic properties in it. For starters, there was no clear explanation of what "regular cleaning" meant, she says. There turns out to be a huge number. Looking at 14 different used kitchen sponges, the researchers found up to 54 billion bacteria per cubic centimeter, spanning 118 genera. According to the USDA, microwaving sponges kill 99.9999% of bacteria, while dishwashing kills 99.99998%. One strain of bacteria stood out: Moraxella osloensis. Then the media took this idea and ran with it. If you can’t part with throwing them out that frequently, then your best bet would be to disinfect your sponge. To prevent your sponges from spreading germs you need to sanitize them. Are you tired of spending oodles of money on food storage systems that don't work? In the new study, cleaning apparently boosted the levels of two species. Joy Ho for NPR Scientific Reference: Microbiome Analysis and Confocal Microscopy Of Used Kitchen Sponges Reveal Massive Colonization By Acinetobacter , Moraxella and Chryseobacterium Species. After reading these stories, including one posted on NPR's Facebook page, I started becoming a bit skeptical. I spent many of those days growing huge flasks of bacteria closely related to food-borne pathogens. If you use a sponge to clean the kitchen dishes, you wouldn’t want to use the same sponge to clean the dog or cat bowl. The sink is a great … In a 2017 published article in Scientific Reports it explains your sponge contains a little ecosystem. Sponges are a hot spot for bacteria like salmonella, E. coli, staphylococcus, and much more. due to the different materials that make up each type of sponge You should never use a sponge to clean off your fruits and vegetables. Let’s say you have a sponge you use for cleaning off the counter; you wouldn’t want to use that same sponge to clean the sidewalls of your refrigerator. Is it just laying in the sink? In fact, she says, you can't draw any conclusions about the effect of washing sponges from this study. If you or your family member either has an immunosuppressed illness or cancer, you should never allow a sponge into your home.