This Is the Safest Way to Clean Your Sponges

A cleaner home starts with a cleaner sponge.

It should come as no surprise that sponges are a breeding ground for potentially harmful bacteria. Not only are sponges used to clean up all kinds of messes, but they're also left out damp and at room temperature, creating a perfect environment for the proliferation of pathogens.

Research published in the International Journal Of Food Microbiology reveals that sponges often harbor bacteria like salmonella and E.coli, and their use as cleaning tools means those pathogens are being spread to our household surfaces. Scarier yet, a study published in the International Journal Of Health Research identifies sponges and the wet areas around sinks to be the most contaminated places in the home.

Luckily, it's easy to get your sponges clean. Even sponges that have been infected by harmful pathogens can be sanitized for further use. A study from the Food Control journal compared soaking sponges in bleach and other disinfecting chemicals to dishwashing and microwaving them. The results clearly showed that sponges retain less pathogens after microwaving or dishwashing versus soaking in disinfectants.

Unfortunately, the variety of wash temperatures and soaps used in dishwashing mean there's a lot of room for error. However, microwaving is a consistently-effective technique for ridding your sponge of potential illness-causing germs. In fact, research published in the Journal of Environmental Health reveals that the bacterial content of a sponge's wastewater was reduced by 99 percent after just one to two minutes in the microwave at full power. To do this at home, wet the sponge slightly and stick it in the microwave. Of course, there are a few exceptions to this sponge cleaning rule. Microwaving works for most synthetic sponges, but sponges with metal scrubbers should never be nuked.

And you definitely need to be cleaning your sponges more than you think. It's a good idea to zap your all-purpose sponge in the microwave at least every other day. If it's getting more use usual, nuke it more often. Now that you know how to keep your sponges squeaky clean and safe for the entire family, it's time to address The 50 Deadliest Items In Your Home.

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