Kitchen sponges won’t stay clean. On the contrary, they can get really dirty and I am here today to tell you how to clean a dirty kitchen sponge.
The truth is that it won’t be an easy job. Even more, in some cases, it will be almost impossible or at least not cost-effective to clean a really dirty kitchen sponge. And it all depends on what made it so dirty in the first place.
My top recommended way to clean a sponge to destroy bacteria
Bacteria will form on your kitchen sponge even if it doesn’t look like it’s been through hell and back. This is why it’s always a good idea to clean it as often as possible, once every 4-5 days, even if it doesn’t look that bad.
The thing with bacteria is that you can’t really see it and it’s best to be safe than sorry. So here is what to do in order to clean a sponge and destroy the bacteria:
Mix 1/3 cups of bleach with half a gallon of water. Then handle your dirty kitchen sponge with a glove and soak it in water, squishing it a few times, then leave it in the solution for 5 minutes. Remove it (using gloves!) and rinse it very well in fresh water.
Doing this will destroy around 99.9% of the bacteria, as they don’t really like bleach.
Using the method above, if the sponge looks dirty and full of goop, you should rinse it well before placing it in the bleach mixture. Also, if you want to clean it some more, squish it a few times before removing it from the mixture.
Other methods of cleaning a kitchen sponge
Working with bleach might not be something that you’re happy doing and fortunately there are other methods that are almost as effective when it comes to cleaning your dirty sponge:
1. The vinegar method
Mix one cup of water with half a cup vinegar (8% acidity aka the regular white vinegar) and 2 teaspoons of salt. Leave your sponge soak in the solution for a couple of hours or even overnight.
If you want to risk nothing, you can soak the dirty kitchen sponge in nothing but vinegar for 20 minutes and you’re all set. Just rinse the sponge well afterwards and you can use it again.
2. The dishwasher method
This is probably the easiest method, if you’re already regularly using a dishwasher. Simply put the sponge in with your regular load and run the heated dry program. This should also kill 99.9% of the bacteria.
3. The microwave method
You can also microwave your sponge to clean it well and destroy bacteria. However, make sure that you soak it in water before placing it in the microwave (always on a microwave-friendly plate).
Then microwave your sponge for 2 minutes. Do keep an eye on it during the entire process, though, as there’s a minimal risk of it catching fire if you haven’t soaked it well enough.
IMPORTANT: Make sure to never microwave sponges that have plastic or metallic components (some do as it helps with scrubbing).
And these would be the methods that you have for cleaning a kitchen sponge to remove the bacteria.
But what to do if the sponge is really, really dirty?
Sometimes – especially after cleaning up very greasy dishes or things that were sticky or burnt a bit, your sponge will get really dirty and it’s not the bacteria that makes you hate it, but the filth itself.
Your only bet here is to rinse it really, really well, but in most cases, you won’t be able to get it back to 100% clean. And those remains of food and grease that you simply can’t take out can become the house of unhealthy microorganisms.
So the best way to deal with sponges that are really dirty is to simply throw them away and replace them with a new one. The same should be done even with sponges that you clean using the recommended methods above: replace your used sponges every 2-3 weeks or even sooner if they get dirty really fast.
I know that we have to think about saving the planet and creating a massive waste of kitchen sponges doesn’t feel right for many of us, but we shouldn’t risk our health either!