How to Clean and Disinfect Your Kitchen Sponge

Kitchen Sponge Cleaning and Safety Tips

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Like a smelly dishcloth, dirty kitchen sponges are ideal breeding grounds for yeast, mold, and bacteria. So it’s important to know how to clean your kitchen sponge to keep it safe for use and, as a bonus, odor-free.

Using the dishwasher or the microwave are the most effective convenient methods, and boiling works, too. But plot twist: bleach does not!

Cleaning a Sponge in the Microwave

Microwaving a sponge is the most effective method to eliminate bacteria. It works by heating up the water inside, which breaks down bacterial cell membranes and structures with hot steam. I do this as part of my daily cleaning routine.

To clean your sponge in the microwave, first squeeze soapy water through it a few times to get rid of food particles. Then, get it wet with warm water and microwave it on high for 1 minute.

In The Dishwasher

Cleaning your kitchen sponge in the dishwasher is also an effective way to eliminate bacteria as well as mold spores.

Rinse food particles out of your sponge then squeeze it out and pop it on the top rack of your dishwasher for a full wash and heated drying cycle.

Boiling

An old school method to clean kitchen sponges is by boiling them for 2 minutes in a solution of 3 parts water to 1 part white vinegar.

This method relies on heat plus acetic acid to eliminate the bacteria. The vinegar also helps strip away grease and soap residue, too.

Pro Tip

Wait for your sponge to fully cool before you wring it out.

Surprise, Bleach Does Not Work!

In a surprise twist, popular internet suggestions like spraying a sponge with vinegar, lemon juice or hydrogen peroxide, or even soaking it in a 10% bleach water solution, are not enough to kill the bacteria inside. Because: science.

As I’ve explained before, too much organic matter or too many germs can overwhelm a disinfectant so it doesn’t work properly. So, spraying a disinfectant on a dirty sponge can still leave harmful bacteria behind that multiply quickly.

How To Keep Your Sponge Clean

Rinse it with soapy water after every use to get rid of grease and food particles.

Dry your sponge between uses by keeping it in a sponge holder or on a rack. This helps control bacteria.

Clean it daily by microwaving or running it through the dishwasher as described.

Then, replace your sponge every two weeks because, even with routine attention, sponges wear out and stop cleaning well.

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4 Comments

  1. Suzan Oxenreider says:

    I started to microwave my sponge and dishcloth every night after I finished cleaning up the kitchen about 13 years ago. I NEVER have a smelly dishcloth or sponge. It is the best kitchen “trick” I ever learned!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      It’s wonderful when such a simple trick works, isn’t it?

  2. Leetah Guilford says:

    I don’t have a microwave but I do have a toaster oven, is there any way I could clean my sponge in the toaster oven or will I have to use the dishwasher?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      You’d want to use the dishwasher for that one, Leetah. Alternatively, you could boil it as described.

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