Is my kitchen sponge likely to kill me?

Every year or so I’ll see or read a news blurb about how many germs there are in the average kitchen sponge. This doesn’t sound too scary to me because even if true the germs will get washed away with the soap and go down the drain. Then the dish will be left to dry for several hours at least, killing off any germs that somehow jumped from the sponge to the plate.

Is this correct?

You gotta be careful around those sponges. One killed my great-aunt Bertha. Snuck up behind her, it did, and . . . .

Well, that’s another story.

Your sponge won’t likely kill you, but it may make you or one of your family members ill. You can’t assume all germs are being killed by the soap you use to wash dishes. Nor does being on a dry surface kill them all, IIRC.

Most likely, you’ll only get an upset tummy from it-- you probably won’t even connect the two, but there are more serious germs which can lurk in a sponge, like salmonella. It’s better safe than sorry. I’d leave off using them all together, if I were you. Dishrags are a much better choice.

However, if you insist, you want to properly maintain your sponge, and towards that end, there are a few things you can do: Soak it overnight in a bleach-water solution frequently-- preferably every time you clean up something germy. Or, put it in the microwave (wet) for a half a minute or so. )Let cool before removing, obviously.)

Yep- nuke it. Or you can just buy a new one fairly often- they are really cheap.

OK, on the one hand, soap and water is NOT going to kill all the bacteria on your sponge. Not by a long shot. And the ones that survive will breed quite happily once you’re done with the sponge.

On the other hand, the odds of this making you sick are not great. It’s not something I’d lose sleep over. Sanitize it or replace it if it’s the type of thing that worries you, as has been proposed already.

My wife uses more than enough dishwashing liquid & adds chlorine bleach as a disinfectant to wash dishes, rinses with running water and racks up to air dry.

Sponge gets disinfected every time she washes dishes! Rinses lightly, air dried.

Also it is very important to be extra careful with poultry and possible salmonella contamination of kitchen and equipment.

Don’t be alarmed by the overdramatic TV presentations. They want your attention so they can sell you their latest and greatest product, whatever it may be. :rolleyes:

I don’t replace my sponges nearly as often as I should, and I don’t have a microwave in my kitchen, so I periodically squeeze out the sponge and pour boiling water from my tea kettle onto it. For what it’s worth, I never get sick!

I put my sponges in the dishwasher or the washing machine from time to time. I wonder if this is sufficient to sanitize them?

Og, you guys are too funny. I had the most wonderful image of a giant sponge with arms and no legs towering over your great-aunt while she chopped carrots…

Well, This is pretty damned horrifying. Some Straight Dope on the subject.

I do put the sponge, Dobie Pad ™ and ScotchBrite Pad ™ into the dishwasher once or twice. After that, I ditch them. I cannot tolerate the idea that for saving .99 cents I am risking schmearing bacteria all over my dishes and pots and pans.

The highly coarse copper bundled pads would be less likely to harbor bacteria since they have no nooks and crannies ( well, there goes my love of Thomas’ English Muffins… ). I do use those things for a few pots, but mostly they’re too abrasive for the day to day stuff.

Lissa? I’m really sorry about Aunt Bertha. The Backgammon Club misses her too. :wink:


Sorry for the second post, but spingears said something up there that didn’t ring a bell in time.

I never, ever use the sponge currently in use if I am cleaning up blood. By that I mean uncooked animal blood, gravy, cuttings from chicken, pork, steak, buffalo, what have you. NEVER.

I use paper towels, because the odds of some of those items becoming a high risk of infection by breeding is greater than the odd veggie or fruit drop of juice. If I’m slicing steak and the juice gets away from me, I grab a dish drying towel. They wash up nicely in hot water and OxyClean™.

I recall reading something maybe six months ago (perhaps even here on the SDMB) that a recent study showed the heat inside a dishwasher is generally insufficient to sterilize the sponge, but damned if I can come up with a cite at the moment.

Our new KitchenAid dishwasher has a “SaniRinse” cycle option, that heats the rinse water to something like 180°F – the manual claims that it’s sufficient for sanitizing infant bottles, etc. Occasionally the wife will put the dish sponge in there.

But I still just toss a sponge if it’s looking or smelling off. They’re inexpensive for a reason…