5-Minute Health Tip: Nuke Your Sponges!

What’s the germiest thing in your kitchen? Your dishwashing sponge! We use them to wipe down counters, clean up food particles, wash dishes over and over again…and then we leave them sitting out damp, collecting bacteria over night! In fact, your kitchen sponge offers cozy shelter to over 150 times more bacteria, yeast, and mold than your toothbrush holder does.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), decreasing the risk of foodborne illness by just 10% could lead to 5 million fewer Americans getting sick each year. One way to help cut risk is to start disinfecting your sponges. All it takes is two minutes to nuke your sponges in the microwave!

How to Nuke Your Sponges in the Microwave

University of Florida researchers determined that microwaving a sponge for two minutes killed 90% of pathogens in sponges dipped in fecal bacteria, viruses, protozoan parasites, and bacterial spores. Just follow the steps below:

  1. Mix two tablespoons of full-strength white vinegar with 1 cup of water.
  2. Soak the sponge in the vinegar water (never microwave a dry sponge—it could start a fire).
  3. Nuke the sponge in the microwave for 2 minutes—30 seconds will get rid of most germs, but it takes 2 minutes to eliminate E. coli.
  4. Let the sponge cool before removing it from the microwave.

Nuke your sponges once a week to a few times a week, especially if they’ve come into contact with uncooked meat, raw eggs, or raw vegetables.

Alternate Disinfecting Methods

Don’t want to use a microwave to disinfect your sponge? Mix ¾ cup of bleach with 1 gallon of water and soak the sponge for 5 minutes. A more eco-friendly option is to soak the sponge in white vinegar for 5 minutes and then let it air dry in the sun.