This piece originally appeared on MyRecipes.com.
Have you ever had a conversation with someone who’s passionate about their disgust for kitchen sponges? I never knew the little yellow (or blue, if you’re that kind of person) things were such a hot topic. Oh, but they most certainly are.
I mean, I don’t much enjoy touching them either, but I really don’t see what the big deal is. Just replace them every month or two once they start showing some wear and tear (and grime)–right?
That was, until I started learning about them. These things are pretty gross, you guys. The kitchen sponge is actually the dirtiest item in the house, ranking above your garbage can and toilet seat. Considering this is what you “clean” the surfaces that you eat off of with, this is rather upsetting. But don’t freak out just yet–this doesn’t mean you need to immediately toss that 10-pack stash in your cupboard. The biggest problem people make is that they simply rinse off their sponge instead of sanitizing it. If you don’t disinfect and dry your sponge properly after each use, bacteria will take up residence and grow inside the holes of the damp sponge (gross, I know). And the next time you wash your dishes, you may clean the visible food and grime off, but you’ll also add a lovely layer of germs to plates, bowls, silverware, and cups. That said, this nastiest can be easily avoided. Simply learning how to clean your kitchen sponge properly will go a long way towards stopping bacteria in its path and ensuring a clean, safe kitchen.
(*One caveat: Sanitizing your sponge does not equate to keeping the same sponge forever. Sponges should be replaced at least every month regardless of how often you go through the steps below.)
Here are 5 of our best tips for sanitizing and deodorizing your dish sponge:
#1. Microwave: Submerge the sponge into a bowl of water (make sure it’s microwave safe) and heat for 1-2 minutes, or until the water begins to boil. Remove the bowl and allow it to rest until the water has cooled enough for you to remove the sponge and wring it out. Allow the sponge to fully dry before using again.
#2. Dishwasher: Place sponge into the utensil compartment and leave it there for the entirety of the wash and dry cycle.
#3. Chlorine: Mix 1 part bleach with 9 parts water and soak the sponge in the mixture for 1 minute. Then, ring it out and allow it to dry.
#4. Lemon juice: Mix 1 part lemon juice with 8 parts water and drop the sponge into the mixture for 1 minute. Ring it out and allow it to dry.
#5. If all else fails . . . Just throw the damn thing out and buy a new one. I mean, really.