Cleaning with Sponges

Cleaning with Sponges. Did You Know That Cleaning a Dirty Sponge Only Helps Its Worst Bacteria? So you’ve been microwaving your dirty sponge to kill dangerous bacteria and ward off the obnoxious smell? Bad idea! According to a new study published in Scientific Reports, it would be much better if you just tossed it away. It turns out that cleaning a dirty sponge only kills off some of the bacteria, especially the frail ones. But the strongest, smelliest, and potentially dangerous bacteria will survive and continue thriving like never before.

Evaluation of DNA and RNA

After evaluating the DNA and RNA in samples from 14 dirty sponges, Dr.Egert, a microbiologist at the University of Furtwangen and his team found 362 species of bacteria thriving within them.

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This didn’t come off as surprising due to the fact that bacteria grow just anywhere, so it’s no wonder that a kitchen sponge would be ridden with them. What shocked them however is how densely populated the bacteria were. Approximately 82 billion bacteria occupy just a cubic inch of space. According to Dr. Egert, it’s almost the same density of bacteria found in human stool samples as there is no likelihood of any other places with such high bacteria densities. That’s a really huge number, and to think all this has been living in your spotless clean kitchen!

So how is it possible for a kitchen sponge to host such a vast number of bacteria?

Well, the sponge itself attracts bacteria and the fact that it’s used in the kitchen makes it easy for them to arrive via food, skin, and other surfaces. The sponge is an ideal living condition since it’s always warm, moist, and most importantly, a nutrient rich space for them to thrive in.


One of the culprits is Moraxella osmosis, a type of bacteria commonly found in human skin and is known to cause infections, especially in people with weak immune systems. The risk posed by this bacteria in sponges is however pretty hard to assess. Dr. Egert recommends replacing your sponge at least once a week since cleaning it only makes it worse. According to him, cleaning a sponge is pretty much similar to how people encourage antibiotic resistance when they don’t heed to doctor’s instructions.

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