No, I don't mean your living aquatic sponge that you forgot to feed bacteria to in order to sustain its life. I'm talking about dish sponges. Sponges you use to clean dishes and kitchen surfaces with. If you are a regular reader of Stay Frugal, you would know that using a dishwasher saves money. If you can't afford a dishwasher, or have no space or intentions on purchasing one, do not fret. There are frugal ways to save while staying manual and old school with dish washing sponges, cleaning sponges, kitchen sponges, or whatever you may call them. I've heard it all. Aside from tips concerning the conservation of water and dish soap, there are a few things to put into practice to make your dish sponges last longer.
- When you purchase dishwashing sponge you can double it's efficiency by cutting it in perfect halves. I know this sounds silly, but the area provided by the half sponge is perfectly capable of cleaning the dishes well. Now instead of one sponge, you have two sponges. You can even allot one half of the sponge to a certain area, such as a bathroom, and keep another sponge in the kitchen as a kitchen sponge.
- Many homeowners will throw their sponges away after awhile because they can become very dirty and bacteria laden. There is a simple and easy trick to learn, and it's how to disinfect a sponge. Disinfecting sponges is fortunately an easy process. Place your damp sponge in the microwave. Microwaving sponges you say? Yes, actually! Set the microwave on high for about 5 minutes. You may want to wrap the sponge in paper towel as it will begin to form bubbles and become wetter than desired. Exercise caution when removing the sponge from the microwave. At first, it will be hot. Once you've learned how to clean your sponge, it will be disinfected and rid of bacteria due to the high heat of the microwave and ready to clean again!
Does this work?
This surprisingly does work. Nearly all bacteria die around the tepid temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Although a microwave doesn't technically produce heat like an oven does, it does heat the material itself up. This is why there are no temperature settings on a microwave. At a high setting on the microwave, however, the sponge should heat up past the point of 165 degrees effectively disturbing and killing the bacteria found on the sponge.
Why does my sponge have bacteria in the first place?
Well, it's pretty obvious. Cleaning sponges aren't made to grace surfaces that are already clean, their purpose is TO clean. Whether you use your sponge in the kitchen to clean up potentially harmful liquids from eggs, chicken, to other meats, or in the bathroom where urine and other unsightly matters may be cleaned. Not to mention, people don't clean their sponges very often. Even if you aren't cleaning up after questionable liquids possibly containing Salmonella or other bacteria, you can pick up food particles and other things that can help contribute to an increasingly dirty and bacteria laden sponge.
How often should I clean my sponge?
There really is no defined time limit. Some people may feel most comfortable doing it everyday. Others will do it on a weekly basis. I don't believe that it should go any longer than a month without a proper visit from the microwave, however.