Ways To Clean Sponges + Tip For Clipping Them

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Did you know sponges used for day-to-day wiping up should be sterilized at least every other day? They are nice for scrubbing and wiping up, but make sure to wash them regularly to help prevent spreading grubbies around your home.

HandfulAccording to Simmons Center for Hygiene and Health in the Home:

A sponge that’s been in use for no more than two or three days in a kitchen will harbor millions of bacteria, said Elizabeth Scott, co-director of the Simmons Center for Hygiene and Health in the Home at Simmons College in Boston. That’s a problem, she said, if you pick up the pathogen or a pathogenic E. coli, salmonella or campylobacter.

She added: That means that any time you use one to wipe up a surface you are potentially spreading those pathogens.

Source: NYTimes

Cleaning methods depend on what they’re used for and what chemicals they’re already holding.

Used For Kitchen Counters & Dishes:

  • Toss them in the dishwasher when you do a load of dishes. The detergent and the heat should sterilize them.
  • You could also put them in hot soapy water with a good splash of vinegar, rinse well, then when still wet microwave for a couple of minutes. Bleach and water could be used as well rather than soap and vinegar.

Used For Wiping Up Toilets, Bathrooms, Showers & Floors:

  • You can soak them in a bleach solution*, then toss in the laundry. If you’re going to add them with other items, don’t mix with clothing, dish clothes or towels–keep them with other household rags.

Containing Ammonia:

  • Don’t add bleach. Use hot soapy water*, then toss in the washing machine.

More Methods:

  • Soak in bleach and hot water (as long as they haven’t been in contact with ammonia). Use one ounce of bleach per gallon of water.
  • Soak them in vinegar and hot water.
  • Add them to a pot of boiling water with vinegar added. Boil for a few minutes, cover pot and remove from heat. Let sit for an hour.

*Soaking and rinsing before tossing in the laundry helps remove most of the hair and grubbies before being tossed with other items in the machine.

Here’s a tip sent in from Margie and it’s a great way to keep those used for nasty jobs separate from your good stuff:

If you are going to use old face cloths, dish cloths, tea towels or sponges as dust rags or for messy cleaning jobs, cut a piece off one corner so they don’t get mixed up with your good items. You’ll recognize them right away.

I have a stash I use just for the bathroom that I wash and store separately, clipping them will be a useful way to know at a glance that these guys didn’t get mixed with the good stash by mistake.

Thanks very much for sharing that Margie!

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Published: January 3, 2007
Updated: July 3, 2012

What Readers Are Saying:
6 Comments to “Ways To Clean Sponges + Tip For Clipping Them”
  1. Mrs. Salber says:

    I run our sponges through the dishwasher all the time, they come out looking NEW, it saves us tons of money since I only need to replace them once a month or when they start falling apart.

  2. Amanda says:

    I zap my kitchen sponge (a microfibre imitation) in the microwave for 2 minutes. It comes out steaming and with no smell.

  3. James says:

    I put my sponge in the microwave for 20 seconds and watch the suds boil out of it (1200 watts). Using tongs, I let cold water from the faucet run over the sponge. I’m still careful when I handle it because the sponge can be cold on the outside and contain hot water on the inside.

    I’ve experimented with smelly sponges using this method and they come out fresh smelling.

    I saw on TV some place that a clean kitchen can have more germs than a dirty kitchen because the same sponge is used on all surfaces that just spreads the germs.

    I bought a box of rags from Home Depot. They must be dish rags that did not make the cut. I have a drawer full of them and try to use them once. They are better than paper towels for covering large bowls because they don’t curl up. I even put wet ones on the floor and stand on them for a quick floor wash. Then the whole stack or rags goes in with the other whites and I hit “sanitary” which includes bleach.

  4. Cindy says:

    I am constantly using sponges in the kitchen during the day.
    Now and then my husband would say how nasty they smell and made his hands smell when he’d use them. To de-smell them (smile) I used to put them in with my laundry (as I do not have a dishwasher). That worked ok, but I do not always get the laundry done in a timely manner (hah, seldom!) so I would end up getting a fresh one each time. I would end up with a dozen or more sponges sometimes.
    One day the idea hit me…I have a bottle of hand sanitizer sitting on the top of my sink…this is used to ‘sanitize’…
    Each time I am done with the sponge for the time being, I pump some sanitizer on it and squeeze it in. The sanitizer sort of liquifies and spreads as I squish it around. Then I just set it down until the next time I use it.
    He has not said it smelled since….not one time.

  5. Treay Cohen says:

    Cindy, what a great idea! I shall definitely be using it. On the BBC TV series,”How Clean Is Your House?”, they recommended that sponges be kept in a bowl of water and bleach or vinegar, in between washing dishes. I haven’t tried it, as I dislike having things in or on my sink; looks too messy.

  6. Kay Genio says:

    I keep a medium sized spray bottle under the sink that’s filled with water, a couple of tablespoons of laundry bleach, and two teaspoons of Dawn liquid dishwashing soap. I don’t try to measure exactly. I spritz my cutting board with the solution whenever I cut meat or cheese on it– before moving on to the next item to cut. I spritz the sink, counters, and both sides of the scrubbing sponge before going to bed. It’s so easy. The lightweight sponges deteriorate a little faster, but the stronger sponges with the Scotch scrubber on the back of them are just fine.


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