Wiping meat juice off a plate, then using that same sponge to clean dishes. Are the findings upturning decades of public health recommendations? By doing this you’ll stand a much greater risk at cross-contamination, which can promote a foodborne illness. According to the USDA, microwaving sponges kill 99.9999% of bacteria, while dishwashing kills 99.99998%. "But remember, the bacteria we want to kill are the ones that will make you sick.". But that finding isn't what got people riled up. Ring it out as best as you can to remove all of the excess water. Putting your sponge in the dishwasher is a very easy and effective disinfection method. "That's a very huge number of bacteria, indeed," Egert tells NPR. "That's reasonable to me.". With all of that, you’re probably wondering how to kill bacteria in a kitchen sponge? Egert and his team didn't find any of these food-borne-illness-causing bugs in their 14 sponges. If you’re going to use a kitchen sponge, use it specifically for one purpose only. For the first time, scientists have carefully analyzed all the critters in a kitchen sponge. "I replace mine every one to two weeks," she says. After you use your microwave to disinfect the sponge, make sure you disinfect the microwave immediately after. 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. 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. The same thing goes for cutting boards. "It may nuke the weak ones, but the strongest, smelliest and potentially pathogenic bacteria will survive.". I spent many of those days growing huge flasks of bacteria closely related to food-borne pathogens. I fed them, harvested them, fished out their genes, studied their guts — and killed them — day after day after day. 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. The best way to store a sponge is by using a sponge drying rack, or someplace where air can circulate through the fibers. NSF International is a non-profit agency that sets safety standards for water filters and other equipment. Germs are everywhere, and they are part of life. Dish Sponges The single germiest item in your home is your average kitchen sponge. A 2017 study found that the kitchen sponge you’re using may contain as many as 45 billion bacteria per square centimeter. The media reports were simply not accurate. In the study, published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Food Protection, 15% of … 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. Can you say the same thing about yours? Although sponges absorb a lot of water, the absorption level only goes so far. Are you kidding? "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. Kitchen hygiene: In the dishwasher, in the refrigerator, in the sponge: various germs are hidden everywhere in the kitchen. Use the bleach you have on hand, but to be on the safe side, let the sponge soak for 3 minutes instead of 2. Back in 2007, I was a biochemistry postdoc slaving away in the lab. If you scale that up, that's like stuffing all the people who live in Manhattan into the Rockefeller ice rink. Kitchen sponges: the dirtiest items in your home. Neither of these relatives are known to cause food poisoning. In the NSF study, 86% of sponges had mold and yeast, 77% contained Coliform bacteria, and 18% were filled with staph bacteria. 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. Even after you wash it and rinse it. A kitchen sponge can tend to harbor unwanted bacteria such as salmonella, pseudomonas and E. coli. Fill your sink with a gallon of water and 3/4 cup of bleach and submerge the sponge in it for five minutes. Is it sitting on the back edge of the sink? 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 Enter your best email address to get your free refrigerated food storage guide with helpful storage tips. Some sponges are made up of a synthetic metallic property that can catch on fire in the microwave. And these bacteria are actually quite rare in sponges, Quinlan says. This is the third and final way to disinfect your kitchen sponge. Instead, families should stick with the same recommendations Quinlan has given for years: 1. How often, though, depends on how frequently they’re used. Keep the sponge away from raw meat. hide caption. The truth of the matter is, that pretty yellow, blue, or pink sponge is holding approximately 45 billion bacteria per cubic centimeter. That’s crazy! The sink is a 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. One strain of bacteria stood out: Moraxella osloensis. And then you can rest easy that washing the dishes will not make you sick. If your kitchen hygiene there, you can turn the kitchen into a real spinner in a short time. Egert has no idea exactly what these species are, but one is related to bacteria that give your dirty laundry that stinky, musty smell. Place it in a shallow microwave-safe container. 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 … Joy Ho for NPR 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. It’s also the one that makes sponges smell… "That's why we cook food. Julia Child Was Wrong: Don't Wash Your Raw Chicken, Folks. 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. Kitchen sponges are the No. due to the different materials that make up each type of sponge Back in August, a study came out about bacteria in kitchen sponges that sent home chefs into a frenzy. There turns out to be a huge number. If you can’t part with throwing them out that frequently, then your best bet would be to disinfect your sponge. Microwave the damp kitchen sponge 5 minutes. Not great. But we’ve all lived with roommates or family members who do the opposite. Let it dry out between uses to minimize the undesirable lifeforms. By Alexis Hobbs. 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. California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) Policy. Please log in again. The study, published in Scientific Reports, undertook a thorough investigation into how many critters are living in used kitchen sponges. The Mail Online carried a reasonably accurate report of the research. Of course not. That’s about the same amount found in an average human stool sample. Wet sponge lying on the counter is the favorite habitat for bacteria to grow rapidly and produces smell, mildew, and mold. The only issue with this is, most household bleach ranges anywhere between 5.25% to 6.0% sodium hypochlorite. If you think your cell phone is dirtier than your toilet, the kitchen sponge has that one beat. In the new study, cleaning apparently boosted the levels of two species. Sure, that may seem like you’re throwing money down the drain, but the truth of the matter is, it’s still breeding bacteria. 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. The problem with sponges is that they don’t dry out between uses and the moisture helps harmful bacteria multiply. How about in an old margarine tube under the sink? 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. "Some people may think that microwaving a sponge kills its tiny residents, but they are only partly right," the Times story continued. 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. The login page will open in a new tab. Yes, your kitchen sponge is a huge and shady nightclub for bacteria. Use the hottest and longest setting on your dishwasher. 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. "After you contacted me for an interview, I read the study in great detail," she says. Does that mean you can’t use it? "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. Wiping that sponge on other surfaces – your hands, for instance, or the kitchen counter – can leave a trail of microbes in its wake. In other words, there can be spots on your kitchen sponge with just as high concentrations of bacteria as in a toilet. 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. This new trick is the most effective way to prevent food poisoning, by far. Great Value is listed as 6.0% sodium hypochlorite and 94% other. “There’s more E. coli in a kitchen sink than in a toilet after you flush it. If not, together we can make your kitchen one of your most favorite and safest rooms in your home. I’d love to know what the other 94% is. It's time to stop wasting money throwing away food that spoiled before you were able to eat it.
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