Would you chop your vegetables in your bathroom? The kitchen sponge is thought to be 200,000 times dirtier than your toilet seat, or even your garbage can and diaper pail! The many pores in the sponge serve as a breeding ground for bacteria, especially since many thrive in damp environments. Combine this with food remnants from dirty dishes, and you have the perfect storm of bacteria – sometimes harmful – that you are unknowingly spreading across your counter, tables, and other surfaces. In fact, while the sponge is wet and stagnant between uses, new bacteria grow at a rate of once every 20 minutes.
How, then, do you keep your sponge and kitchen clean? There’s no need to boycott sponges – just make sure to smartly sanitize them on a regular basis. Though bleach is an effective cleaning solution, it is not particularly eco-friendly. Bleach exposure can also cause irritation to the mouth, lungs, nose, eyes, and on the skin, especially for those with asthma or other sensitivities. Consider these green, environmentally friendly options for sanitizing your sponges:
Microwave your sponge.
This is an effective and simple way to combat germs. Here’s how you do it – saturate the sponge with water, using ¼ cup for scrub sponges and ½ cup for cellulose sponges. Microwave for one minute for scrub sponges and two minutes for cellulose sponges. Make sure you keep an eye on it!
Soak the sponge in vinegar.
Vinegar is a great alternative to bleach, since it is less harsh. Make sure to soak for five full minutes. This is a less effective method in comparison to microwaving the sponge, but it still eliminates about 99.6% of bacteria.
Opt for antibacterial wipes and other sponge technology.
If you use a lot of sponges, this could be a great, low maintenance way for you to keep your household clean and your costs low. The Clean Sponge is a fantastic product made of polyester fiber that can be machine-washed for longer use. It also scrubs better and more effectively than traditional kitchen sponges. The SMART Antibacterial Cloth is another alternative that uses silver particle technology woven into the fabric. This helps prevent bacteria that create mildew and odor build up. When you need to clean the cloth, just toss it in the wash! The SMART Antibacterial Cloth was also featured in our August Ecocentric Mom boxes.
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