The Most Effective Way to Sanitize Your Kitchen Sponges

Have you ever thought about cleaning your dishes with a sponge full of germs? We all heard about different kinds of methods and ways in cleaning them. Which is the best and most effective?

We took to a science lab to find out the most effective strategy.

-GH (Good Housekeeping)

Workers with EMSL Analytical testing lab in Westmont, New Jersey, figures out the best possible solution. People used sponges for a week in their kitchens, and the lab contaminated others with three common pathogens: salmonella, E. coli, and pseudomonas.

They have tested 6 cleaning methods, to see which will removed the most bacteria:

  • Dishwasher
  • Microwave
  • Washing machine
  • Bleach soak
  • Ammonia soaks
  • Vinegar soak

The Best Germ Killer

The bleach solution killed 99.9% of the three bacteria strains from all our test sponges (scrub and regular cellulose), a benchmark based on the EPA’s requirement for sanitization of non-food-contact surfaces.

Here’s how to do it:
Mix 3/4 cup of bleach in one gallon of water, and soak the sponge for five minutes.

Runners Up

The microwave and the dishwasher were the next most effective, zapping 99.9% of germs from the home-used sponges and from the lab-treated scrub sponges. However, on the lab-treated cellulose sponges, microwaving just missed the mark for E. coli (99.83% reduced), and the dishwasher didn’t quite get all the salmonella or E. coli (99.88 and 99.86% reduced, respectively).

Here’s how to do it:
Put a sponge into a regular dishwasher load, using the “heated dry” setting. In the microwave, saturate the sponge (we used 1/4 cup of water for scrub sponges and 1/2 cup for cellulose); heat on High for one minute (scrub) or two minutes (cellulose). Keep an eye on it.

The Rest

A five-minute soak in full-strength vinegar averaged 99.6% bacteria elimination; in full-strength ammonia, 97.0%. The washing machine proved least effective, killing on average 93.0% of bacteria.

When It’s Time to Replace

No matter how diligent you are about cleaning, your kitchen sponges won’t last forever. Clean sponges weekly, and toss shabby ones (about every two to eight weeks, depending on use).

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