With millions of bacteria on kitchen sponges that make them stink, some say they can be killed off by a minute or two in the microwave. Others say that microwaving is useless to destroy the bad stuff. What’s the answer?
Dear Mary: With all those gazillions of bacteria on kitchen sponges*, some say they can be killed off by a minute or two in the microwave. Others say that microwaving is useless to destroy the bad stuff. Do you have a definitive answer one way or the other?
Many thanks for all your advice and recipes. I’m still reaping raves for your Italian Sausage Vegetable Soup! Pat B., San Gabriel, Calif.
Dear Pat B: This is an important subject. Thanks for bringing it up. The theory is that high heat kills most bacteria. However, the amount of time needed in a microwave to reach the desired temperature to kill the bacteria and mildew harbored in the center of a sponge will result in a flaming, incinerated sponge!
Putting that kitchen sponge in the dishwasher daily, or as often as you run a load of dishes, is a much better solution. The heat and detergent are sufficient to kill bacteria and mildew.
I’m going to assume that you use one kitchen sponge at a time, and that may be the problem. Let me suggest you have at least two sponges going. This way, one will always be available to wipe the counter and so forth, while the other is getting sanitized in the dishwasher. Just get into the habit of adding one kitchen sponge to every dishwasher load. Do this without fail for a couple of weeks and soon it’ll become a habit.
DIY antibacterial solution
Another option, espeically if you don’t have a dishwasher is to soak that daily sponge in a good antibacterial sanitizer for at least 10 minutes up to overnight. But don’t spend $8 for a 16-oz. bottle from the store. Make it yourself for pennies!
According to the FDA, one teaspoon of liquid chlorine bleach per quart of clean water can be used to sanitize all kitchen surfaces like cutting boards, counter tops, refrigerator shelves—and sponges!
Hope that helps, Pat B., and keep impressing your guests with that soup!
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