Stinky Kitchen Sponge – Sterilize It

January 30, 2007 13 Comments

How to Clean and Sterilize a Stinky Sponge

How to Clean and Sterilize a Stinky Sponge

I read in the paper today that you can sterilize your kitchen sponge in the microwave for a couple of minutes.  I know after a couple of days our sponges start to stink of grease and whatever we were cooking. You think if they smell that bad, they must have some funky germs on them that you are transmitting from the sponge to the plate or pan you are cleaning.

Some researchers at the University of Florida found out by contaminating a bunch of sponges with stuff like E. coli, parasites, bacterial spores and viruses.  They determined it took a full 10 minutes of micro waving to kill everything but most of the bugs were killed after just 2 minutes.

Did you know that 80 million people in America get sick from food-borne illnesses each year? And of those 9,000 die. Who knew?  I know I will be nuking our kitchen sponges a little more frequently.

CAUTION!!!!!!!  WARNING!!!!!!!

After posting this news item, I received a lot of emails and comments (see below) about the dangers of putting a DRY sponge in the microwave. The people who commented all said you have to WET your sponge before trying to sterilize it or you risk starting a fire or stinking up your house.  Again, if you do try this yourself, make sure your sponge is very wet.

Also, remember the sponge is going to be VERY, VERY HOT so don’t try grabbing it with a bare hand. Use your kitchen tongs or wait until it cools down or you risk burning your hand.

For the record, I am not recommending anybody try this at home. I was just passing on something I read in the newspaper that sounded interesting. As with any cooking utensil, cookware or cutlery, please be careful not to hurt yourself.

Last modified on Tue 21 October 2014 11:09 am

Filed in: Tips and Facts

Comments (13)

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  1. iPont Shuffle says:

    Important addendum to this news article! After Reuters distributed the results of the University of Florida study, they got some angry e-mails from people who tried it at home. The problem was that the people put DRY sponges in their microwave ovens which gave somewhat different results. One of the e-mails said, “[the sponge] caught fire, smoked up the house, ruined my microwave, and pissed me off”.

    Please remember to thoroughly WET your sponge before nuking it. Also, in this age where people will sue you for not reminding them not to touch a hot pan, please remember that after its microwave bath, your sponge will be HOT!

    And I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t disinfect my sponge while making popcorn. I’ve smelled my kitchen sponge and it does get kind of funky. I’d rather not have any of that airborne funk (whether dead or alive) landing on my popcorn.

  2. ruthiebabes says:

    It’s actually been on the news recently that this is unsafe and causes fires….

    Check out the bbc…http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6293735.stm

  3. Tim Daniels says:

    Please note several folks tried this with kitchen sponges and set fires in their microwaves. Let your readers know the sponges need to be really wet. Also, keep in mind that the sponge will be really HOT when you remove it from the microwave. Happy nuking.

  4. Rick R says:

    A lot of other people saw this report and put the sponge into the microwave DRY. It ruined the microwave and gave their house the lovely smell of burning tires. Make sure the sponge is WET before you start nuking it.

  5. modivin says:

    Just remember to put it in the microwave wet, or it will melt in a spectacular manner, destroying your oven and stinking your house 🙂

  6. Chef Ricco says:

    All I been doing for the last 20 years is boiling the sponge in two quarts of water with two tablespoons of baking soda or one oz of bleach, boil for 5 mins. Very easy this works a lot better that the microwave. Just make sure that you use a stainless steel pan.

  7. common sense says:

    For those of you who are uncomfortable heating a sponge in your microwave, you may want to consider a little dish soap, bleach and hot water. Rinse it out by hand.

  8. Tracy says:

    Why not run your sponge thru the dishwasher every couple of days? Or better, buy sponges in bulk and replace them every week.

    Another thought: use a sponge for cleaning dishes only (with hot water, and still either bleaching or running your sponge thru the dishwasher) and use a fresh wash cloth every day for counters and other prep/eating surfaces.

  9. Paige D says:

    What about putting it in the dishwasher on the sanitize cycle?

  10. Shane says:

    I second the notion of boiling the thing.

    Or tossing it.

  11. sana says:

    I actually started microwaving my sponge for 2 minutes, and it does keep it more clean and not smelly.

  12. teri o's says:

    Toss it and buy a new one––it’s just a sponge!

    I have 2 small pails in my sink––one with bleach, one with soapy water & a dishrag.

  13. Claude Balls says:

    I use a sponge to wash my dishes and never thought of nuking the thing.How often should this be done?Once a week maybe.Sounds logical

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