Stinky sponges, women smelling stinky kitchen sponge

Ask Me Anything: Smelly Sponges, Linx Stick Vac, Wood Cleaner, Kids’ Savings Accounts and More

Once again, it’s time to reach into my inbox and pull out a handful of questions from you my lovely readers. Every day I get questions galore, great stories, lots of love, and tons of encouragement. Please, never stop writing to me!

Laptop computer illustrating email by envelopes coming out of the screen

While I do read every message, I simply cannot respond to all of them. And honestly, I don’t have specific criteria for which questions to answer in posts like this.

Generally, I select questions with universal appeal and a high likelihood that others have the same or similar questions. And here’s a hint: Well-written, complete messages with a clear situation and question get special consideration.

Here is a quick summary of the questions I’ll answer in today’s post. You can click on one to go straight to it, or just scroll down to read all. Enjoy!


1. Smelly Sponge Syndrome

2. Which Hoover Linx?

3. Wood Floor Cleaner OK for wood cabinets?

4. Costco or Sam’s Club?

5. Kids’ Savings Accounts

6. Pesky Ant Invasion

7. Print option, please!


Q1: Serious case of smelly sponge syndrome

I was wondering if you had a quick and easy way to keep the dish scrubbers—like ScotchBrite with a sponge on one side attached to a pad for scrubbing pans on the other side—from smelling like mildew.

Mine is fine for a few days and then starts smelling. I try to run it in the dishwasher, but don’t always remember. I sometimes spray it with bleach and let it sit for a minute or two before rinsing, and that seems to work, but I was wondering if there was a better way. I tried microwaving a wet sponge, and that just created a hot smelly sponge. Bronson

Smelly sponge, stinky kitchen sponge


Dear Bronson: First, let me congratulate you on discovering a popular cleaning hack that doesn’t work—sponges in the microwave. 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. As reported in The New York Times citing this study, nuked sponges still harbor about 40% of their bacteria, some of which can be life-threatening.

Putting that kitchen sponge in the dishwasher daily, or as often as you run a load of dishes, is a better solution. The heat, and detergent are sufficient to kill bacteria and mildew.

I’m going to assume that you use one 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. Do this without fail for a couple of weeks and soon it’ll become a habit.

All that being said, a better choice is to use cotton or microfiber cloths that can be tossed in the washer after every use.

Q2: But which Hoover Linx cordless stick vac?

How did you know I’ve been looking for a cordless stick vacuum? I open my newspaper Sunday and there you are, reviewing one! I went online to look for the Hoover Linx you recommend and found there are different models. Which model is it? A loyal reader, Judy

Dear Judy: First, I should let readers know that my blog posts routinely show up in several hundred print newspapers around the country, syndicated by Creators. Local editors often edit for space, dropping details such as specific resources. But not to worry. This is the model you want: Hoover Linx Signature Cordless 18V Lithium-Ion Stick Vacuum Cleaner (Amazon and Walmart). You can read the whole thing here: Best Inexpensive Cordless Stick Vacuum. 

Thanks for being such a loyal reader and feel free to write anytime!

Q3: Wood Floor Cleaner on Cabinets?

Can I use your Wood and Laminate Floor Cleaner to clean my wood cabinets? Millie

Dear Millie: Cleaning wood cabinets with our Wood and Laminate Floor Cleaner (one part rubbing alcohol to four parts distilled water plus a few drops blue Dawn dishwashing liquid) will not harm your cabinets. But that would not be my first choice if you want to deep clean and at the same time condition the wood to bring it back to its original beauty.

Howards Feed-N-Wax Orange Oil Polish and Conditioner  is what I recommend for this job. It melts away grease and grime and conditions the wood with beeswax and orange oil. You won’t believe the results. Now by the same token, please do not use Howards on your floors. It would make them too slick for safety.

Q4: Should we join Costco or Sam’s Club?

I love your blog and have learned a lot from you. Now I have a question. My husband and I are considering a membership to either Sam’s Club or Costco. What is your opinion on these types of stores, good idea or not? Any good tips I should know? I am really wanting to stock up on things for future use. Thanks! Terri

Dear Terri: I’ve been a member of both Costco and Sam’s Club in the past but have let my Sam’s Club membership expire. It really is a matter of personal preference, so I recommend you check out both stores as a visitor before making your decision. At Sam’s Club simply request a one-day visitor pass. At Costco, say that you would like to visit the pharmacy, the optical or hearing services (access to all three services are protected by Federal law, which means a Costco membership is not required to use those warehouse club services).

Personally, I find Costco to be more consumer-friendly, while Sam’s Club caters more to small businesses. You should also consider the location. I like the close proximity of my Costco. If my closest Costco were 25 miles away and Sam’s Club was much closer, I might reconsider.

As for how to make a warehouse club work for you, read more here: How to Win the Warehouse Club Game. Thanks for being an EC fan!

Q5: Should kids have real savings accounts?

My son is saving cash in envelopes. That seems kind of cumbersome. What is your opinion? Why not in a savings account then assign categories, keeping track of the amounts for each category? Dick

Dear Dick: I agree. Kids need savings accounts. In my book, Raising Financially Confident Kids, I recommend that kids be required to save at least 10 percent of everything they receive in a real savings account at a bank or credit union.

Of course, your son could save more than 10 percent, and keep a record for how much in his savings account he is allocating for say “College Savings,” or “New Bike,” “Summer Camp” and so forth.

Since most banks now allow customers to track their accounts online, your son could watch his money closely via computer or mobile device.

Tell him that I’m proud of him and those envelopes! Not many kids are aware of how important it is to take good care of their money. But now he needs to learn about a real, live bank, too, by keeping some of his money there.

Q6: Ant invasion!

We just discovered that we have a small ant invasion. How can we get rid of them with a Mary’s home remedy before this turns into all-out war? Thank you in advance. Janice

Dear Janice: You have options depending on what items you have in your pantry or around the house, from boiling water to vinegar, black pepper, and citrus peel or products like WD-40 and diatomaceous earth. Exact recipes and instructions for 10 different methods are here.

Q7: Print option, please!

It would be so helpful if you could add a print option to your blog posts. As it is, when I want to keep a paper copy of a recipe etc., I have to copy and paste and it’s a pain. Would you consider that, please? Rich

Dear Rich: If you scroll all the way to the bottom of any blog post, you will see tiny Print and also PDF icons. If you’ve missed that, it looks like this:

Click on either one and you’ll get a print-friendly version with further options so you can decide which parts you want to print—with or without images. Hope that helps!


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6 replies
  1. ros says:

    Deodorizing sponges, plastic containers, fabric, whatever – soak in hydrogen peroxide for a couple days. – safe, ecological.

  2. Chris says:

    I never used sponges, but I used dishcloths and they would have the same smelly problem. I solved the problem by throwing them all away and purchasing Mabu cloths from amazon, They are naturally bacteria resistant and never smell!

  3. D Mello says:

    Do you do a separate load with just dish cloths and towels? I sometimes feel that I am asking for more contamination by throwing them in a washing machine that has dealt with all kinds of nasty germs.

  4. tboofy says:

    As far as Sam’s vs. Costco…If you have a gift card from Costco, you can enter and purchase items. You will have to use the card and leave it if you use the entire balance (not a problem if you use MORE than what’s on it; you can pay the rest with a credit card or cash). If you choose a one-day complimentary pass to Sam’s, you’ll have to pay a 10% surcharge; not the case if you have a Costco gift card in hand. So I pay for the Sam’s membership and pay my sister to get me a couple $10 Costco gift cards whenever I need to make a Costco run.


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