Sponges Are Not A Hygienic Way to Wash Dishes New Study Warns

By Bill Galluccio

June 7, 2022

Close-up of hand in a yellow glove with sponge.
Photo: Getty Images

It might be time to ditch your dirty kitchen sponges and find another way to wash your dishes. A new study from researchers at Nofima, a Norwegian food research institute, found that kitchen sponges can harbor harmful bacteria such as salmonella.

"The sponge is humid and accumulates food residues which are also food for bacteria, leading to rapid growth of bacteria," Trond Møretrø, a research scientist at the institute, said, according to CNN.

Møretrø said that trillions of bacteria can inhabit a single sponge.

"A single sponge can harbor a higher number of bacteria than there are people on Earth," he said.

He noted that no matter how often people cleaned their sponges, they still became the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.

"That the way the consumers used their sponges did not matter much regarding growth of bacteria. It is very difficult for consumers to avoid bacterial growth in the sponges as long as the sponges are not replaced daily," Møretrø said.

Møretrø suggested that people should use brushes instead of sponges because the brushes were easier to clean and dry faster than sponges, limiting the ability of the bacteria to grow.

"Since the brush dries very fast, harmful bacteria will die. Also, most brushes have a handle which prevents you from direct hand contact with potential harmful bacteria, in contrast to sponges," he said.

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