How To Clean A Sponge And Kill Bacteria

How To Clean A Sponge And Kill Bacteria

Each of us will likely have a sponge sitting by our sink, ready to clean dishes, and mop up spills on the side. However, how often has it crossed our minds that we also need to clean the sponge? Kitchen sponges are used for a variety of different tasks, and can begin to harbour bacteria if uncleaned. There are plenty of different methods for cleaning sponges, but we’ll be focussing on some more chemical-free, eco friendly ways. 

Why are kitchen sponges so dirty?  

Whilst sponges spend the majority of their time submerged in water and cleaning products, their highly-porous nature means they will also hold onto a lot of that water, as well as food and beverage residue. Sponges are able to function due to the multitude of tiny holes across their surface, helping them to retain water – but unfortunately this makes them great at holding onto the things they clean up, too. A study conducted in 2017 actually discovered that there are more germs in your kitchen sponge than there are in your toilet – yuck!

Why do I need to clean a sponge? 

Sponges can harbour harmful bacteria, and when waterlogged, can begin to go mouldy. When we consider that we use dish sponges primarily for cleaning our drinking glasses, cutlery and plates, the potential harm that a bacteria-ridden sponge could cause could be very detrimental to our health. Kitchen sponges, if unchecked, can spread bacteria across every surface they meet. 

They are also not self-cleaning, despite being constantly surrounded by dish soap and other anti-bacterial materials. So, they need a bit of TLC to stay fresh and safe for usage. Cleaning your sponges will also help them to last that little bit longer – however, it’s important to remember that even the best of sponge-cleaning routines won’t make them last forever. Dish sponges should be replaced every few weeks, or if they begin to develop a sour smell – for more information, visit our piece on how often a sponge should be replaced. 

How to clean dish sponges 

Here are three different methods you can use to clean your kitchen sponges: 

Clean a sponge with vinegar 

Cleaning a sponge with vinegar is inexpensive and non-harmful. Full strength vinegar has a higher concentration of acid than regular white vinegar, but both will do the trick. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to clean a sponge with vinegar: 

  1. Remove any solid particles attached to the sponge, such as food or other debris, and give the sponge a good squeeze to drain as much moisture as possible. 
  2. Drop the sponge into a container filled with enough vinegar that the sponge is completely submerged. 
  3. Allow the sponge to soak for five minutes before rinsing and squeezing – be sure to wear gloves for this, as the concentration of vinegar can sometimes irritate the skin. 

Clean a sponge in the microwave 

This is a pretty straightforward way of cleaning your sponge quickly and efficiently. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to clean your sponge in the microwave: 

  1. Rinse the sponge out well and get rid of as many crumbs and other food debris as possible. 
  2. Soak the sponge with enough water that it’s saturated, but not dripping. 
  3. Place the sponge on a microwaveable plate and add it to the microwave for about a minute – times will vary depending on your microwave, and your sponge can burn, so keep an eye on it. 
  4. Let the sponge cool completely before use. 

Clean a sponge in the dishwasher 

This is a simple solution – and a great way to conserve electricity (and your own energy), as you’ll be putting on a load anyway. Dishwashers are energy and water conserving, so popping your dirty sponge in with the load can clean it without any extra waste. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to clean your sponge in the dishwasher: 

  1. Give your sponge a good rinse and a squeeze to remove as much moisture as possible. 
  2. Pop it on the top rack of your dishwasher and turn the dishwasher on. 
  3. One cycle later and your sponge is ready to use. 
Back to blog