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A Healthy Kitchen: question about sponges vs. scrubbers vs. dish towels

By June 26, 2008 - 1:30pm
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My husband and I don't agree, maybe you can help!

He grew up with his mom using a sponge at the kitchen sink, to wipe down everything from food off plates (before putting in dishwasher) to the countertops, and also to use to clean dishes. He read that you can easily disinfect sponges by putting them in the microwave or dishwasher. Is this true? If so, how many times can you do this before you throw it away? The sponge looks rather nasty after just a week. Also, is it okay to use the same sponge to wipe off countertops AND dirty dishes? What about to CLEAN dishes, too? Seems rather gross to me!

I grew up with my mom using paper towels, which seems wasteful. I thought a scrubber is good for wiping off dirty dishes before putting in dishwasher, but do these items (with bristles) need to be disinfected, too? If so, how?

And, what about dish towels. These can easily be thrown in the washing machine after one use, but it is difficult to clean dishes with.

Thanks for any information, and to put an end to our little friendly squabble!

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EmpowHER Guest


February 20, 2009 - 1:46pm

Your husband is right about being able to disinfect a sponge in the microwave or dishwasher. However, that doesn't mean it can last indefinitely.

You're right about limiting the use of the sponge to certain tasks. It's best to use one sponge for the dishes, and something else to wipe up foodstuffs or counter tops.

My grandmother used to say never use the sponge you wipe dishes with for cleaning anything else, especially the floor. She had a point. She would also change out her sponges every month, or sooner if necessary.

Have you ever tried one of those "super chamois" type cloths? They come in large sheets that you can cut in half, or quarter, and use for wiping down surfaces. They're easily washed and will last a long time.

Real Simple has a great article on How to Keep Sponges Germ-Free. Maybe it will help put an end to your family disagreement. :)

June 26, 2008 - 6:48pm
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