The truth of the matter is, that pretty yellow, blue, or pink sponge is holding approximately 45 billion bacteria per cubic centimeter. The kitchen sponge that does not smell is the first priority of every person who is health-conscious. Not at all, Quinlan says. Indeed, a 2017 study found sinks and sponges are huge harborers of fecal bacteria in 44% of homes. Clean the sponge every few days. Studies have reported you should use a minimum of 8.25% sodium hypochlorite. That’s about the same amount found in an average human stool sample. Even the authors of this study were surprised by this number. When we do the dishes, we generally wring out the kitchen sponge after use. Previous research has shown that kitchen sponges contain more active bacteria than anywhere else in the house—including the toilet. Visit this article: Types of Bacteria Found on Money. Kitchen sponges: the dirtiest items in your home. A kitchen sponge can tend to harbor unwanted bacteria such as salmonella, pseudomonas and E. coli. So what in the heck is going on with this new sponge study? 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.. Use the hottest and longest setting on your dishwasher. The kitchen sink and the washing sponge are the worst culprits because they are usually damp, a condition that bacteria like. In the NSF study, 86% of sponges had mold and yeast, 77% contained Coliform bacteria, and 18% were filled with staph bacteria. The only issue with this is, most household bleach ranges anywhere between 5.25% to 6.0% sodium hypochlorite. If you’re gonna do this, use a paper towel. 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 … 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. Why? That result in itself is pretty remarkable. A 2017 study found that the kitchen sponge you’re using may contain as many as 45 billion bacteria per square centimeter. How often, though, depends on how frequently they’re used. However, it made much of the fact that some of th… Even then, the amount of the pathogens present was very small, her team reported in the Journal of Food Protection. It must remain in the microwave for no less than 2 minutes; however, due to the variance in wattage of microwaves, 2 minutes may not be long enough. In a 2017 published article in Scientific Reports it explains your sponge contains a little ecosystem. Although the microwave will kill most of the bacteria, it’s not going to kill all of it. 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. 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. Use 1/2 teaspoon of bleach to a quart of warm water. "If you're dealing with raw juices from meat or poultry, you should be using paper that can be disposed of," Quinlan says. The best way to store a sponge is by using a sponge drying rack, or someplace where air can circulate through the fibers. Even after you wash it and rinse it. "That could actually encourage the bacteria.". Wet sponge lying on the counter is the favorite habitat for bacteria to grow rapidly and produces smell, mildew, and mold. 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. 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. Wiping that sponge on other surfaces – your hands, for instance, or the kitchen counter – can leave a trail of microbes in its wake. And the results were jawdropping. The sink is a great … Like a nightclub, regular cleaning may help but many sponge owners don't seem to be cleaning their sponges … Strains of germs range from campylobacter, salmonella, and … With all of that, you’re probably wondering how to kill bacteria in a kitchen sponge? "That's why we cook food. How about in an old margarine tube under the sink? If you’re going to use a kitchen sponge, use it specifically for one purpose only. "Some people may think that microwaving a sponge kills its tiny residents, but they are only partly right," the Times story continued. You should never use a sponge to clean off your fruits and vegetables. Kitchen sponges are the No. Sponges are a hot spot for bacteria like salmonella, E. coli, staphylococcus, and much more. When your sponge starts to smell like rotten blue cheese mixed with curdled milk, or just dirty smelling, it’s time to go. If not, together we can make your kitchen one of your most favorite and safest rooms in your home. Egert and his team didn't find any of these food-borne-illness-causing bugs in their 14 sponges. "We do not want to make public health recommendations based on five sponges from Germany," Quinlan says. 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. Neither of these relatives are known to cause food poisoning. In the new study, cleaning apparently boosted the levels of two species. Back in 2007, I was a biochemistry postdoc slaving away in the lab. due to the different materials that make up each type of sponge. "There's hardly any habitat on Earth where you'll find similar densities of bacteria, except for the human intestinal tract.". 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. 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. They’re not that expensive and you can find them at your local dollar or big box store. Microwave the damp kitchen sponge 5 minutes. This is the third and final way to disinfect your kitchen sponge. Why are kitchen sponges such germ magnets? The study, published in Scientific Reports, undertook a thorough investigation into how many critters are living in used kitchen sponges. 2. Wiping meat juice off a plate, then using that same sponge to clean dishes. Kitchen hygiene: In the dishwasher, in the refrigerator, in the sponge: various germs are hidden everywhere in the kitchen. Place your freshly rinsed kitchen sponge on the top rack nestled between two slats. Make sure you use the heat setting when drying. I'm so happy you stopped by. This bug is responsible for infections in people with weak immune systems. Here are three ways to clean a kitchen sponge—and one thing you should never do. Mix 3/4 cup of bleach in one gallon of water and soak the sponge for five minutes, then rinse – and that's it. In the study, published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Food Protection, 15% of … Just because you’re using soap, it doesn’t necessarily mean your sponge won’t be harboring any harmful bacteria. It's time to stop wasting money throwing away food that spoiled before you were able to eat it. Just five species of bacteria are responsible for more than 90 percent of hospitalizations due to food-borne illnesses. 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. I’d love to know what the other 94% is. 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. Looking at 14 different used kitchen sponges, the researchers found up to 54 billion bacteria per cubic centimeter, spanning 118 genera. It has also … "It doesn't sterilize the sponge," she says. Do you disinfect your kitchen sponges, throw them out, or don’t even use them? “There’s more E. coli in a kitchen sink than in a toilet after you flush it. If you think your cell phone is dirtier than your toilet, the kitchen sponge has that one beat. 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. Germs are everywhere, and they are part of life. Joy Ho for NPR Of course not. The login page will open in a new tab. To prevent your sponges from spreading germs you need to sanitize them. due to the different materials that make up each type of sponge Lather a sponge with dish soap and then flush it with hot water. The other is related to bacteria that, on rare occasions, cause infections in people with suppressed immune systems. But when we looked carefully at the study, we realized much of the news coverage about it was incorrect. 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. To prevent cross-contamination, each sponge should have its specific job and you shouldn’t intermingle them with other duties. 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. Yes, your kitchen sponge is a huge and shady nightclub for bacteria. Wash it with soap and rinse it thoroughly after each use. Share in a comment below! But the heat targets the dangerous ones, Quinlan says. I fed them, harvested them, fished out their genes, studied their guts — and killed them — day after day after day. The drier it is the better. The latter can actually make the sponge stinkier, Quinlan says. Food Safety Superhero provides food safety, kitchen safety, kitchen cleaning & disinfection tips, as well as, food storage solutions. Doing this will avoid any confusion you might have, especially if both sponges are the same color. Enter your best email address to get your free refrigerated food storage guide with helpful storage tips. Back in August, a study came out about bacteria in kitchen sponges that sent home chefs into a frenzy. 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. Scrubbing fruit and vegetable skin. By doing this you’ll stand a much greater risk at cross-contamination, which can promote a foodborne illness. 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. That’s crazy! In fact, she says, you can't draw any conclusions about the effect of washing sponges from this study. There is a very strong possibility you can transfer some of the sponges’ bacteria to your family member. Despite recent news reports, there is something you can do about it. Is it just laying in the sink? The study, conducted by researchers based in Germany, found that kitchen sponges have 'the capability to collect and spread bacteria with a probable pathogenic potential.'. Print. The Mail Online carried a reasonably accurate report of the research. And then you can rest easy that washing the dishes will not make you sick. This is because the kitchen provides the perfect environment for different types of bacteria to breed and thrive. Not great. You just put a gross stinky bacteria-laden sponge that’s probably filled with fecal bacteria, parasites, and other types of bacteria in the same place you’re planning on heating your Hot Pocket. Does that mean you can’t use it? 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. If you use your kitchen sponge daily, you should change it out every week or so. 3. A sponge can be cleaned and sanitized safely if you follow some guidelines. 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. After you use your microwave to disinfect the sponge, make sure you disinfect the microwave immediately after. 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. "Cleaning a Dirty Sponge Only Helps Its Worst Bacteria, Study Says," The New York Times put it. And it makes you think twice about using the sponge to wipe up your dining room table. STK Heavy Duty Silicone Scrubber Sponges (10 Pack) - Modern Antimicrobial Kitchen Sponges - 100% Mold Mildew and Bacteria Resistant - Zero Smell Technology - Silicone Sponge - 10x More Durable 4.2 out of 5 stars 699 The study stated that the sponges were either microwaved or put in hot, soapy water. If you scale that up, that's like stuffing all the people who live in Manhattan into the Rockefeller ice rink. By some estimates, they are dirtier than toilet seats. "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. 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. In other words, there can be spots on your kitchen sponge with just as high concentrations of bacteria as in a toilet. As it turns out, germ experts say the average kitchen sponge really is one of the dirtiest items in the home. Please log in again. The problem with sponges is that they don’t dry out between uses and the moisture helps harmful bacteria multiply. I have both Great Value and Dollar General bleach in my home. Since the kitchen is the most pivotal location in our homes, it's the one we must ensure is clean and safe. Although the microwave will kill most of the bacteria, it’s not going to kill all of it. Let it dry out between uses to minimize the undesirable lifeforms. Great Value is listed as 6.0% sodium hypochlorite and 94% other. I love my kitchen. The kitchen is the heart of every household and it's so important to keep our family healthy & safe at all times. And these bacteria are actually quite rare in sponges, Quinlan says. "Nobody would recommend hot, soapy water as a way to disinfect a sponge," Quinlan says. We know that heating will kill the pathogens," says Jennifer Quinlan, a food microbiologist at Drexel University. Let it complete the full drying cycle before removing your kitchen sponge. 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. "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. « 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 ». 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. Microwaving and boiling sponges were shown to reduce bacteria by 60 percent, but this only worked in a lab setting, not in used kitchen sponges. It was funded by the Institute of Applied Research (IAF) of Furtwangen University and published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Scientific Reports on an open-access basis, so it can be read free of charge online. A dirty kitchen sponge can breed bacteria and contaminate your kitchen. Dish Sponges The single germiest item in your home is your average kitchen sponge. Ring it out as best as you can to remove all of the excess water. But when we looked carefully at the study, we … "It may nuke the weak ones, but the strongest, smelliest and potentially pathogenic bacteria will survive.". Can you say the same thing about yours? What would you say if I told you all you needed were some simple & actionable storage guidelines for keeping your refrigerated food fresh? The kitchen is a breeding ground for a number of bacteria. Intrigued? This conclusion just didn't fit with my firsthand experience as a scientist. The best way to preserve your food is by utilizing proper food storage techniques. Hi There! You heat them up just a little bit and they literally pop! They are weaklings. "Even then the methods were very vague.". Why do you ask? 7. If … Some sponges are made up of a synthetic metallic property that can catch on fire in the microwave. Jan 14, 2016 This content is … The study also looked at only five sponges that people said they "cleaned" regularly — and study participants did not say whether this cleaning took place in the microwave or in soapy water. Julia Child Was Wrong: Don't Wash Your Raw Chicken, Folks. One strain of bacteria stood out: Moraxella osloensis. Place it in a shallow microwave-safe container. Keep the sponge away from raw meat. Massimiliano Cardinale-Dominik Kaiser-Tillmann Lueders-Sylvia Schnell-Markus Egert – https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-06055-9. Are the findings upturning decades of public health recommendations? Something smelled fishy here. It … The media reports were simply not accurate. If you want to rid them of pesticides or germs from other grocery shoppers, you’ll want to invest in a vegetable scrubber. Your kitchen sponge: A world of disease. I spent many of those days growing huge flasks of bacteria closely related to food-borne pathogens. Place the wet sponge on a paper plate. Did you know a household kitchen sponge holds 200,000 times more germs than your entire house? Stop Using a Microwave to "Kill" Bacteria on Your Kitchen Sponge. 1 source of germs in the whole house. For starters, there was no clear explanation of what "regular cleaning" meant, she says. 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. 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. Instead, it was a line in the study's abstract: Two species of bacteria "showed significantly greater proportions in regularly sanitized sponges [compared to uncleaned sponges], thereby questioning such sanitation methods in a long term perspective," the study says. "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. 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. Anyone who has worked with food-borne pathogens — or their close relatives — knows that these little critters aren't "the strongest." Due to the number of bacteria the sponge harbors, and regardless if you disinfect the sponge, you may not have disinfected it thoroughly enough. Sink. "After you contacted me for an interview, I read the study in great detail," she says. It’s also the one that makes sponges smell… Nope, heck I’m sure a few of the bacteria spores are using the fibers of the dishtowel as a hammock. If you can’t part with throwing them out that frequently, then your best bet would be to disinfect your sponge. The purpose of Food Safety Superhero is to help you keep a safe, happy, and healthy kitchen. But that finding isn't what got people riled up. Kitchen sponges “Sponges are a breeding ground for bacteria, so they need to be replaced relatively often,” Berliet says. Even if you’re not using it that often you still need to replace it at a minimum of once a month. Fill your sink with a gallon of water and 3/4 cup of bleach and submerge the sponge in it for five minutes. Back in August, a study came out about bacteria in kitchen sponges that sent home chefs into a frenzy. Use the bleach you have on hand, but to be on the safe side, let the sponge soak for 3 minutes instead of 2. If you or your family member either has an immunosuppressed illness or cancer, you should never allow a sponge into your home. For the first time, scientists have carefully analyzed all the critters in a kitchen sponge. For the first time, scientists have carefully analyzed all the critters in a kitchen sponge. Using the microwave is another great way to kill bacteria in a kitchen sponge. Microwave Sterilizes Sponges In the study, published in the Journal of Environmental Health, researchers evaluated the effects of zapping sponges … Bacteria from a kitchen sponge A sponge can be a medium for the growth of harmful bacteria or fungi, especially when it is allowed to remain wet between uses. Don't keep sponges around for too long. Putting your sponge in the dishwasher is a very easy and effective disinfection method. Wiping your hands on a dishtowel after using a kitchen sponge. 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. After reading these stories, including one posted on NPR's Facebook page, I started becoming a bit skeptical. If your kitchen hygiene there, you can turn the kitchen into a real spinner in a short time. Hey, that’s great but what about that other teeny-tiny percentage it doesn’t kill? Are you kidding? This new trick is the most effective way to prevent food poisoning, by far. NSF International is a non-profit agency that sets safety standards for water filters and other equipment. There turns out to be a huge number. Egert has no idea exactly what these species are, but one is related to bacteria that give your dirty laundry that stinky, musty smell. "But remember, the bacteria we want to kill are the ones that will make you sick.". Forty-five billion microbes per square centimeter? Then the media took this idea and ran with it. But we’ve all lived with roommates or family members who do the opposite. When using this method, always soak the kitchen sponge in water first because a dry sponge can start a fire. "That's a very huge number of bacteria, indeed," Egert tells NPR. Sponges can spread harmful bacterial all over your kitchen. hide caption. "That's reasonable to me.". The researchers also … 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. Although sponges absorb a lot of water, the absorption level only goes so far. "I feel now that the comments they make about not recommending washing in the abstract are really, really misleading.". Are you tired of spending oodles of money on food storage systems that don't work? This guide is your secret weapon to keeping your food fresh, even if you don't eat it right away! Instead, families should stick with the same recommendations Quinlan has given for years: 1. Of course, this method will leave many still alive since there are billions in the sponge. "I replace mine every one to two weeks," she says. By Alexis Hobbs. Do you honestly think the fibers of the dishtowel are going to repeal the bacteria? According to the USDA, microwaving sponges kill 99.9999% of bacteria, while dishwashing kills 99.99998%. Kitchen sponges are notorious for being bacteria-ridden. "Your Kitchen Sponge Is Gross, and Cleaning It Isn't Helping," New York magazine's headline read. Now, on the other hand, Dollar General bleach doesn’t list the active ingredients on the packaging at all. It becomes problematic when the body is confronted with (too many) pathogenic germs. I'm Stacey. After logging in you can close it and return to this page. The same thing goes for cutting boards. Despite recent news reports, there is something you can do about it. Is it sitting on the back edge of the sink? There turns out to be a huge number. Sure, that may seem like you’re throwing money down the drain, but the truth of the matter is, it’s still breeding bacteria. Scientific Reference: Microbiome Analysis and Confocal Microscopy Of Used Kitchen Sponges Reveal Massive Colonization By Acinetobacter , Moraxella and Chryseobacterium Species. California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) Policy. Why are Sponges So Dirty?
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