OK, I Sterlizied My Sink Sponge-How Long Till It's a Bacteria Farm?

All the reports you read about , showing that your kitchen is so filthy , make me confused. If to take the sponge and microwave it (till all the bugs are killed), then put it back in the sink-how long till the sponge is dangerous again? I assume the bugs feed on the food residues in the sponge-so is it best to get rid of them altogether?

I think the best option, if this is a concern of yours, is to do dishes with a dishcloth that you put in the hamper every day (so if you do dishes once a day, and wash laundry once a week, buy 7 dishcloths and rotate them in as such). The next-best option would be to microwave the sponge every day before you use it. My stepdad used to microwave our sponge about once a week, but I rarely got sick in the 14 years before we did such things in my house. It didn’t seem to have any effect other than increasing his peace of mind. Which, truthfully, is a good enough reason to do a lot of things. It’s not going to hurt you to be more anal-retentive about the cleanliness of your dishwashing implement… I just don’t think it’s necessary. I replace my sponge once it wears out (every 6 months or so) and I’m happy with that.

Has anyone ever got sick from an unsterilized sink sponge? Certainly many millions use them every day without coming to any harm.

This is such a confusing post. Are you speaking English here? Parodying a non-native speaker? I don’t understand why this is written this way.

I would think that’s hard to determine, since most people don’t get sick enough for the source of a bug to be investigated (and identified as the sponge).

I’m unsure how this is different than anything else in your house that you clean and it gets dirty again, so you clean, it gets dirty again etc. Common sense helps too, like not wiping up chicken juice and then using the same sponge to wash out a cereal bowl to use.

I agree with Rachellelogram. Don’t use sponges. I use a cloth that I wring out to near dry when I am finished with it and gets replaced each time I do dishes (which is only about every two or three days, I mostly use the dishwasher). I hang it up to completely dry out between uses.

It then gets washed and returned to the rotation until it gets to the point of looking kinda yucky (since not all stains come out) and gets relegated to a painting rag.

I find sponges stay too wet to every dry between uses and that’s just gross (IMHO).

“Too wet”?? Why, that’s one of the benefits! I can just grab the sponge right out of the holder and use it to clean off a plate. One quick rinse later, and it’s ready to…hey, where’re you going? I’m just about to put dinner on the table – come back!

I boil my kitchen sponge once a week. I have never had sponge cancer.

I am not a germaphobe. I think my immune system works better if I challenge it regularly. This is not a joke; I’ve read several reports that claim that the increase in allergies is directly related to our not being sufficiently exposed.

Can you link to at least one of them?

I don’t think you can be too paranoid with kitchen sponges/cloths.

They’re really the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Warm water, warm air, food deposits, etc.

I’m pretty casual about it, changing/microwaving maybe every week or so and I don’t get sick very often. However, I don’t think it takes much more than a day for dangerous bacteria to grow in a warm, moist medium.


If you are concerned with the cleanliness of your kitchen, just use the standard cleaning system that the food service industry uses: Wash, rinse, sanitize. Use it every time, on every food contact surface, and you will be golden. Its stupid that the evening news trolls us with scary details about our dirty kitchens, but doesn’t inform us of a a proven effective method of cleaning. Oh well.

After I do the dishes in the evening, I microwave the sponge for one minute.

If there is any visible dirt in the microwave, I use a single paper towel to wipe it up, after the steam has loosened it.

I don’t worry about my sponge being nasty.

Just google hygiene hypothesis, there’s lots of good stuff out there. I don’t think the theory is double-blind testable, because you can’t remove kids from their parents to experiment on them for their formative years. Lots of good evidence, though. This is a very funny, related quote:

“Let me tell you a true story about immunization, ok. When I was a little boy in New York city in the nineteen-forties, we swam in the Hudson river. And it was filled with raw sewage! OK? We swam in raw sewage, you know, to cool off. And at that time the big fear was polio. Thousands of kids died from polio every year. But you know something? In my neighborhood no one ever got polio. No one! EVER! You know why? Cause WE SWAM IN RAW SEWAGE! It strengthened our immune system, the polio never had a prayer. We were tempered in raw shit!”
–George Carlin

I’ve never really thought of my sponge as dirty - doesn’t soap kill most bacteria? I squeeze it as dry as I can every night though. Also, is boiling water effective at sterilization?

I use bleach in my wash water. I have no idea of why I started this, but I started doing it decades ago and now I don’t feel like the dishes are clean if I haven’t used bleach. I also use bleach on my counters at the same time.

I understand some counters won’t take this and yes, all of my dish rags are bleached out. But, if anything survives to cause me problems, it probably would survive the wash machine as well. (But, I also have to admit that I have an unusually strong constitution. I’ve drank local waters in several foreign countries (Mexico, Korea, etc) and never had a problem with the exception of Bahrain)

Even though I use bleach, I wouldn’t count on my counters being totally germ free. I live in the country and leave the windows and doors wide open. That means bugs, birds, mice, etc all the time. I’ve had to shoo chickens out of there and one night walked into the kitchen to find a raccoon staring back at me. I’m not exactly winning the battle with mother nature here.

It started to become a bacteria farm the moment you took it out of the microwave.

The cleaner something is - the easier it is for bacteria/germs to set up on it - fact is - you can never ‘win’ against them.

use hot water - rinse regulary - toss occasionally - if you’re cleaning food prep areas, clean between types of food (raw meat, clean, then vegies - or vegies first, then raw meet, then clean ) and keep it simple.

I am with rachelellogram on this - people, thanks to media and cleaning product marketing way overthink these things.

Like the electric soap dispenser so you didn’t have to touch it - before you washed your hands.

ETA - the best defense against surface contamination is surfaces that do not contamiate easily - counters of stainless steel in resturaunt prep kitchens are there for a reason - germs cant stay unless you clearly never clean them, natural wood cutting boards - things that naturally keep the bad stuff at bay - make your life easier without having to go to extremes.

see this - http://whatscookingamerica.net/CuttingBoards/AllAbout.htm