You’re probably privy to the handy tip that you can simply toss your sponge into the dishwasher or microwave to give it a good clean so you can continue using it. There’s a big problem with that. You actually shouldn’t be cleaning your sponge at all. A recent study published in Scientific Reports makes it pretty clear that the only way to refresh your bacteria-ridden sponge is to throw it in the trash can along with any of the 75 Unhealthiest Foods On the Planet.
That’s right, researchers recommend replacing your sponge with a brand new one every single week. That’s much shorter than our previously-held belief of a one-month cushion. However, if you don’t make a new sponge a grocery list staple, you’re risking exposure to potentially pathogenic bacteria—even if you’re cleaning it constantly.
When researchers compared the microbiomes of sponges that had been cleaned with boiling water or a microwave with those that hadn’t been cleaned at all, they didn’t find any differences. So, it turns out, disinfecting your sponge doesn’t result in bacteria reduction. And here’s the kicker: your sponge might actually be worse off because of your attempt to rid the cleaning utensil of grime.
According to the study, attempting to rid your sponge of bacteria may actually increase their presence, leading the really resistant survivors to quickly replicate themselves. And the bacteria left behind aren’t just any old bacteria. They’re disease-related bacteria like Moraxella osloensis, which doesn’t only give your used sponge its nasty odor, but it also is known to cause infections like meningitis and vaginitis, according to a study in Clinical Infectious Diseases.
Scary stuff, right? We wouldn’t blame you if you stopped reading a long time ago so you could track down every disease-ridden sponge in your house and dump it. Sponges did make it onto our list of The 17 Dirtiest Spots In Your Kitchen after all.