Are your Kitchen Sponges Trying to Kill You?

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Who else shivered at the thought of dirty germy kitchen sponges being used to wipe down cabinets or countertops?


Facts are facts, Jack.  Most kitchen sponges harbor harmful pathogens that have the potential to make us sick with potentially life-threatening food poisoning.

~double ugh~

That’s why I wanted to share this simple household tip that can keep your family healthy and you happy knowing that your sponge isn’t spreading around illness instead of soaking up messes: microwave those babies for two minutes to kill 99.9% of bacteria!

How to Eliminate 99.9% of Bacteria in Kitchen Sponges

Scientists tested the effectiveness of cleaning a sponge, with the purpose of eliminating food-borne pathogens, five different ways.

#1: Soak for three minutes in a 10 percent chlorine bleach solution.

#2: Soak in lemon juice or deionized water for one minute.

#3: Heat in a microwave for two minutes.

#4: Place in a dishwasher operating with a drying cycle.

#5: Left untreated.

When I first read the studies, I was sure that #1 would be the clear winner.  I mean bleach kills everything, right? Turns out, not so much.

The absolute winner was #3: Heat in a microwave for two minutes…AND…#4: Place in a dishwasher operating with a drying cycle.

Microwaving sponges killed 99.99999 percent of bacteria present on them, while dishwashing killed 99.9998 percent of bacteria.


For years I have thrown my sponges in the microwave about every other day or so and zapped for two minutes.

Three Caveats:

#1: Make sure your sponge does not contain any metal pieces.

#2: Rinse sponges thoroughly with water prior to zapping to guard against fire.

#3: When done, the sponges are HOT to the point of steaming!  Handle with care.

I have read that some sponges are so lightweight (I use the heavier ones) that they can melt in the microwave.  As a precaution to that, always microwave your sponges on a paper plate or napkin.

Also, know that microwaving sponges can accelerate their breakdown.  I’ve never noticed that I’m going through sponges like nobody’s business, but they will look a bit shabby before their time.  That’s why I buy the cheaper cellulose kind and toss them when they start falling apart.  My Scotch-Brite heavy duty sponges hold up a bit better. ~ A gentle reminder: OMT! uses Amazon referral links. When you do your shopping through the Amazon links on this page, you support the blog at no cost to yourself. It’s much appreciated!~

Don’t you feel better now knowing you can win this germy fight?  I know I do.

Zap those germ breeders and say Adios, Bacteria!


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  1. Great tips…I throw my sponges in the dishwasher constantly!! Pinned on my cleaning tips board and I will stumble too…this is important info!

  2. I have been running mine through the dishwasher for years. I feel vindicated now. My hubby would prefer to find single use sponges. Alas they don’t make that yet.

  3. I do this, but I think I need to do it more often. Another great tip is that if you put the sponge in vinegar water before placing in in the microwave and then you put it in the microwave really wet it will make it easy to clean the inside of the microwave when the 2 minutes is up. Thanks for the reminder.

  4. I had no idea but it makes sense! I have been taking a normal sponge and cut it into 4 strips and toss as I go.

  5. I’ve done the dishwasher but never thought if using the microwave for sponges. That I will do today to see how it works!

  6. What a great tip! I love this! I am always looking for guest bloggers on my website Blissful and Domestic. My blog is about creating a beautiful life on less and this post fits right in with that 🙂 Check out my blog and see if it would be a good fit for you. I’d love to have you!

    Danielle@ Blissful and Domestic

  7. I shared this on Google Plus.
    I do this every few days, but I’ve found I like to soak the sponges first in water and some lemon juice so the kitchen doesn’t smell like wet sponge after treating.


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