Sure, that may seem like you’re throwing money down the drain, but the truth of the matter is, it’s still breeding bacteria. Another important factor is, if your sponge isn’t thoroughly wet, it can cause a fire, regardless if it has synthetic metallic properties in it. Although the microwave will kill most of the bacteria, it’s not going to kill all of it. Back in August, a study came out about bacteria in kitchen sponges that sent home chefs into a frenzy. Dish Sponges The single germiest item in your home is your average kitchen sponge. There's been evidence that using a bleach solution is the best way to clean a sponge, but truly, the only way to ensure you're working with a clean sponge is to replace it once a week. Print. Despite recent news reports, there is something you can do about it. In the new study, cleaning apparently boosted the levels of two species. Do you disinfect your kitchen sponges, throw them out, or don’t even use them? Place the wet sponge on a paper plate. The sink is a great … "What really irked me is that you had to go all the way into the supplemental material to find how people reported washing the sponges," Quinlan says. The USDA recommends putting it in the dishwasher with a heated dry cycle, or wetting the sponge and popping it in the microwave for a minute. due to the different materials that make up each type of sponge Kitchen sponges “Sponges are a breeding ground for bacteria, so they need to be replaced relatively often,” Berliet says. By some estimates, they are dirtier than toilet seats. By doing this you’ll stand a much greater risk at cross-contamination, which can promote a foodborne illness. Despite recent news reports, there is something you can do about it. Due to the number of bacteria the sponge harbors, and regardless if you disinfect the sponge, you may not have disinfected it thoroughly enough. In fact, she says, you can't draw any conclusions about the effect of washing sponges from this study. Just because you’re using soap, it doesn’t necessarily mean your sponge won’t be harboring any harmful bacteria. Some sponges are made up of a synthetic metallic property that can catch on fire in the microwave. When your sponge starts to smell like rotten blue cheese mixed with curdled milk, or just dirty smelling, it’s time to go. Sponges can spread harmful bacterial all over your kitchen. They’re not that expensive and you can find them at your local dollar or big box store. The latter can actually make the sponge stinkier, Quinlan says. "That's reasonable to me.". After you use your microwave to disinfect the sponge, make sure you disinfect the microwave immediately after. The truth of the matter is, that pretty yellow, blue, or pink sponge is holding approximately 45 billion bacteria per cubic centimeter. A sponge can be cleaned and sanitized safely if you follow some guidelines. "So when you microwave the sponge," she says, "it will likely get rid of them all" — if they are even there in the first place. Not great. Did you know a household kitchen sponge holds 200,000 times more germs than your entire house? Use the bleach you have on hand, but to be on the safe side, let the sponge soak for 3 minutes instead of 2. I’d love to know what the other 94% is. Is it sitting on the back edge of the sink? By starting today, and implementing these simple food storage solutions, you can save time, money, headaches, and give you peace of mind by learning the simple & actionable techniques to store your food properly. Food Safety Superhero provides food safety, kitchen safety, kitchen cleaning & disinfection tips, as well as, food storage solutions. A kitchen sponge can tend to harbor unwanted bacteria such as salmonella, pseudomonas and E. coli. Intrigued? Are the findings upturning decades of public health recommendations? It has also … Visit this article: Types of Bacteria Found on Money. Looking at 14 different used kitchen sponges, the researchers found up to 54 billion bacteria per cubic centimeter, spanning 118 genera. They are weaklings. "Even then the methods were very vague.". "If you're dealing with raw juices from meat or poultry, you should be using paper that can be disposed of," Quinlan says. I'm so happy you stopped by. Why? They state every home harbors different bacteria – which is understandable – but they did find a great deal of salmonella and staphylococcus in a kitchen sponge. The only issue with this is, most household bleach ranges anywhere between 5.25% to 6.0% sodium hypochlorite. Nope, heck I’m sure a few of the bacteria spores are using the fibers of the dishtowel as a hammock. Let it complete the full drying cycle before removing your kitchen sponge. I spent many of those days growing huge flasks of bacteria closely related to food-borne pathogens. Of course not. California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) Policy. "Your Kitchen Sponge Is Gross, and Cleaning It Isn't Helping," New York magazine's headline read. There turns out to be a huge number. According to a 2017 study published in the journal Scientific Reports , samples taken from kitchen sponges harbored 362 different kinds of bacteria in incredibly large quantities of up to 45 billion per square centimeter. « How to Understand Food Best Used-By, Sell-By, and Use-By Dates, 3 Utterly Disgusting Things You Should Avoid Like The Plague At A Restaurant ». In the NSF study, 86% of sponges had mold and yeast, 77% contained Coliform bacteria, and 18% were filled with staph bacteria. The researchers also … Microwaving the sponge will knock down the bacteria living in it by about a million-fold, scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported back in 2009. Jan 14, 2016 This content is … In other words, there can be spots on your kitchen sponge with just as high concentrations of bacteria as in a toilet. Lather a sponge with dish soap and then flush it with hot water. And in a study published earlier this year, Quinlan and her colleagues detected pathogens in only about 1 to 2 percent of sponges collected from kitchens in Philadelphia. Joy Ho for NPR In the study, published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Food Protection, 15% of … The kitchen is the heart of every household and it's so important to keep our family healthy & safe at all times. To prevent cross-contamination, each sponge should have its specific job and you shouldn’t intermingle them with other duties. Do you honestly think the fibers of the dishtowel are going to repeal the bacteria? Just five species of bacteria are responsible for more than 90 percent of hospitalizations due to food-borne illnesses. Please log in again. I'm Stacey. One strain of bacteria stood out: Moraxella osloensis. And then you can rest easy that washing the dishes will not make you sick. Back in 2007, I was a biochemistry postdoc slaving away in the lab. SMELL RESISTANT: Antibacterial & Antimicrobial SKURA style sponges are crafted from a patented polyurethane foam base, with an antimicrobial agent in the foam and scouring surface that inhibits the growth of odor-causing bacteria, mold, and mildew on the sponge. There is a very strong possibility you can transfer some of the sponges’ bacteria to your family member. Neither of these relatives are known to cause food poisoning. If you use your kitchen sponge daily, you should change it out every week or so. "After you contacted me for an interview, I read the study in great detail," she says. Previous research has shown that kitchen sponges contain more active bacteria than anywhere else in the house—including the toilet. hide caption. Even after you wash it and rinse it. The study stated that the sponges were either microwaved or put in hot, soapy water. Make sure you use the heat setting when drying. The login page will open in a new tab. Wet sponge lying on the counter is the favorite habitat for bacteria to grow rapidly and produces smell, mildew, and mold. The best way to preserve your food is by utilizing proper food storage techniques. Forty-five billion microbes per square centimeter? Kitchen hygiene: In the dishwasher, in the refrigerator, in the sponge: various germs are hidden everywhere in the kitchen. The kitchen sponge that does not smell is the first priority of every person who is health-conscious. 3. But that finding isn't what got people riled up. Before placing it on a drying rack you’ll want to: The good thing about sponges is, they’re pretty darn cheap, so it shouldn’t hurt your wallet to throw them out on a bi-weekly to monthly basis. A 2017 study found that the kitchen sponge you’re using may contain as many as 45 billion bacteria per square centimeter. Therefore, you want to make it your mission to disinfect a sponge in the best way possible to avoid illness, especially now with COVID-19 adding to our collective misery. 1 source of germs in the whole house. What would you say if I told you all you needed were some simple & actionable storage guidelines for keeping your refrigerated food fresh? That’s about the same amount found in an average human stool sample. Let it dry out between uses to minimize the undesirable lifeforms. Share in a comment below! Using the microwave is another great way to kill bacteria in a kitchen sponge. One of the most important aspects of keeping a clean kitchen is to ensure the food we feed our family is safe and free from any foodborne pathogens. If you still want to keep it, you may want to put it in rotation to clean the inside of your toilet bowl or to clean the insides of the trash can or recycle buckets. If you still want to keep a sponge in your kitchen, the best bet would be to always wash your hands with hot soapy water after using the sponge. Sponges are a hot spot for bacteria like salmonella, E. coli, staphylococcus, and much more. Something smelled fishy here. To prevent your sponges from spreading germs you need to sanitize them. The solution to your problem isn't buying less food, but to learn how to store it the correct way, where it will remain fresh. If you or your family member either has an immunosuppressed illness or cancer, you should never allow a sponge into your home. Before using your microwave to disinfect a kitchen sponge, it’s imperative to make sure your sponge is wet enough to cause enough steam to penetrate all of the sponge fibers. Researchers from Furtwangen University described kitchen sponges as a "common microbial hot spot," International Business Times reports.The study included DNA analysis of 14 kitchen sponges taken from private … If you can’t part with throwing them out that frequently, then your best bet would be to disinfect your sponge. Strains of germs range from campylobacter, salmonella, and … After reading these stories, including one posted on NPR's Facebook page, I started becoming a bit skeptical. "We found 362 different species of bacteria, and locally, the density of bacteria reached up to 45 billion per square centimeter," says Markus Egert, a microbiologist at Furtwangen University in Germany, who led the study. This new trick is the most effective way to prevent food poisoning, by far. Kitchen sponges: the dirtiest items in your home. The best way to store a sponge is by using a sponge drying rack, or someplace where air can circulate through the fibers. Great Value is listed as 6.0% sodium hypochlorite and 94% other. Although sponges absorb a lot of water, the absorption level only goes so far. But the heat targets the dangerous ones, Quinlan says. If you’re going to use a kitchen sponge, use it specifically for one purpose only. Mix 3/4 cup of bleach in one gallon of water and soak the sponge for five minutes, then rinse – and that's it. For the first time, scientists have carefully analyzed all the critters in a kitchen sponge. That was true in the NSF International survey of U.S. homes, where 77 percent of the sponges and dish cloths contained coliform bacteria, 86 percent had yeast and mold, and 18 percent had Staph bacteria. Use the hottest and longest setting on your dishwasher. Germs are everywhere, and they are part of life. Don't keep sponges around for too long. It … Ring it out as best as you can to remove all of the excess water. You can also place your sponge in the utensil holder; however, more than likely you’ll need to fold it a bit for it to fit. Clean the sponge every few days. Like a nightclub, regular cleaning may help but many sponge owners don't seem to be cleaning their sponges … "Some people may think that microwaving a sponge kills its tiny residents, but they are only partly right," the Times story continued. Not at all, Quinlan says. If you’re gonna do this, use a paper towel. I have both Great Value and Dollar General bleach in my home. "Nobody would recommend hot, soapy water as a way to disinfect a sponge," Quinlan says. Bacteria and viruses need warm, moist conditions to colonize your sponge, so leaving a sponge in the sink can cause the microbes and smells to grow. When a recent study suggested that cleaning your sponge can promote the growth of harmful bacteria, coverage went viral in no small part because most everyone has one sitting next to their sink. Doing this will avoid any confusion you might have, especially if both sponges are the same color. Now, on the other hand, Dollar General bleach doesn’t list the active ingredients on the packaging at all. Even if you’re not using it that often you still need to replace it at a minimum of once a month. Hey, that’s great but what about that other teeny-tiny percentage it doesn’t kill? This is because the kitchen provides the perfect environment for different types of bacteria to breed and thrive. Wiping that sponge on other surfaces – your hands, for instance, or the kitchen counter – can leave a trail of microbes in its wake. And these bacteria are actually quite rare in sponges, Quinlan says. The study, published in Scientific Reports, undertook a thorough investigation into how many critters are living in used kitchen sponges. Indeed, a 2017 study found sinks and sponges are huge harborers of fecal bacteria in 44% of homes. Place your freshly rinsed kitchen sponge on the top rack nestled between two slats. But we’ve all lived with roommates or family members who do the opposite. The Mail Online carried a reasonably accurate report of the research. Anyone who has worked with food-borne pathogens — or their close relatives — knows that these little critters aren't "the strongest." You heat them up just a little bit and they literally pop! The media reports were simply not accurate. Then the media took this idea and ran with it. Putting your sponge in the dishwasher is a very easy and effective disinfection method. This bug is responsible for infections in people with weak immune systems. Why are Sponges So Dirty? Scrubbing fruit and vegetable skin. And it makes you think twice about using the sponge to wipe up your dining room table. It’s also the one that makes sponges smell… Why do you ask? "Cleaning a Dirty Sponge Only Helps Its Worst Bacteria, Study Says," The New York Times put it. If … There turns out to be a huge number. Place it in a shallow microwave-safe container. The kitchen is a breeding ground for a number of bacteria. The study was carried out by researchers from Justus-Liebig University Giessen, Furtwangen University and the German Research Centre for Environmental Health, all in Germany. Is it just laying in the sink? Since the kitchen is the most pivotal location in our homes, it's the one we must ensure is clean and safe. When using this method, always soak the kitchen sponge in water first because a dry sponge can start a fire. We know that heating will kill the pathogens," says Jennifer Quinlan, a food microbiologist at Drexel University. Keep the sponge away from raw meat. This guide is your secret weapon to keeping your food fresh, even if you don't eat it right away! Back in August, a study came out about bacteria in kitchen sponges that sent home chefs into a frenzy. However, it made much of the fact that some of th… Wiping meat juice off a plate, then using that same sponge to clean dishes. I fed them, harvested them, fished out their genes, studied their guts — and killed them — day after day after day. Massimiliano Cardinale-Dominik Kaiser-Tillmann Lueders-Sylvia Schnell-Markus Egert – https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-06055-9. This is the third and final way to disinfect your kitchen sponge. While in theory, the utensil holder sounds like the best option, there’s a slight possibility the hot water and detergent won’t be able to reach the folded part of the sponge. The purpose of Food Safety Superhero is to help you keep a safe, happy, and healthy kitchen. For the first time, scientists have carefully analyzed all the critters in a kitchen sponge. Stop Using a Microwave to "Kill" Bacteria on Your Kitchen Sponge. Are you kidding? "There's hardly any habitat on Earth where you'll find similar densities of bacteria, except for the human intestinal tract.". Microwave Sterilizes Sponges In the study, published in the Journal of Environmental Health, researchers evaluated the effects of zapping sponges … Are you tired of spending oodles of money on food storage systems that don't work? With all of that, you’re probably wondering how to kill bacteria in a kitchen sponge? To be sure you don’t get your new toilet cleaning sponges confused with your kitchen, you’ll want to cut off a corner of the old sponge. Use 1/2 teaspoon of bleach to a quart of warm water. In a 2017 published article in Scientific Reports it explains your sponge contains a little ecosystem. En español | Dangerous bacteria can linger in a dish sponge even after attempts to sterilize it, according to a new German study published in the journal Scientific Reports.. For starters, there was no clear explanation of what "regular cleaning" meant, she says. If you scale that up, that's like stuffing all the people who live in Manhattan into the Rockefeller ice rink. You should never use a sponge to clean off your fruits and vegetables. So what in the heck is going on with this new sponge study? Egert has no idea exactly what these species are, but one is related to bacteria that give your dirty laundry that stinky, musty smell. Let’s say you have a sponge you use for cleaning off the counter; you wouldn’t want to use that same sponge to clean the sidewalls of your refrigerator. They state every home harbors different bacteria – which is understandable – but they did find a great deal of salmonella and staphylococcus in a kitchen sponge. Kitchen sponges are the No. "But remember, the bacteria we want to kill are the ones that will make you sick.". If you use a sponge to clean the kitchen dishes, you wouldn’t want to use the same sponge to clean the dog or cat bowl. Of course, this method will leave many still alive since there are billions in the sponge.
2020 kitchen sponge bacteria