How to Disinfect the Kitchen Sponge

| November 15, 2010

A few years ago I wrote a post on disinfecting the kitchen sponge. It included using hydrogen peroxide and soaking the sponge in the liquid until it stopped foaming.

Very recently I found a much cheaper and easier (and embarrassingly obvious) way to disinfect the kitchen sponge. I can’t believe that I overlooked such an obvious method. After all, I used the very same method to sterilize my children’s baby bottles instead of relying on the heat of the dishwasher. Why not use the same method for disinfecting the kitchen sponge?

Sterilizing the Kitchen Sponge the Old Fashioned Waysponge

If you check out my old post, you see that I used a heck of a lot of hydrogen peroxide. Not only is that wasteful, but it can be time consuming depending on how dirty the sponge. I mean, pour on the hydrogen peroxide, allow it to foam, wash it off, repeat the process until no more foam. Yikes. Forget that…the easiest way to sterilize a sponge is to put it in hot boiling water for about 2 or 3 minutes (a dishwasher does the same thing, but I couldn’t wait to run the dishwasher).

The Raw Chicken Test

As my mom would say, necessity is the mother of invention. This weekend I was playing around with raw chicken (cutting whole chickens into parts for my crock pot recipe), when I realized that I was out of sponges. I didn’t want to use the same sponge that I had used to clean the raw chicken juice from the counter. After all, using the same sponge would spread all the chicken bacteria everywhere.

I started to disinfect the sponge with hydrogen peroxide but didn’t have enough, so I was faced with a couple of choices:

  1. Go to the store and get sponges
  2. Go to the store and get sponges and hydrogen peroxide
  3. Make lemonade out of lemons

You guessed it, I made lemonade instead. I suddenly remembered that boiling water would do the trick (honestly, I only remembered after I used half a bottle of hydrogen peroxide). So, I boiled the water and stuck the sponges in for about 3 minutes. When I took them out I tested their “bacteria-free-ness” by pouring a little more hydrogen peroxide on one of the sponges.

I was pleased to see that it didn’t foam at all. That told me that I had killed all of the nasty stuff and could continue cooking and cleaning. It’s amazing how the small things in life can be so rewarding. 🙂

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Category: Cleaning, Kitchen, Natural Products, Recycling, Saving Money

About the Author ()

Felicia is a bit of a tree hugger and likes to share ways to lighten the toxic burden on the environment.

Comments (6)

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  1. Isis says:

    Disagree, running through a cycle in the washing machine and dryer won’t kill everything. Water has to be 160 degrees and the new washing machines and dryers don’t get hot enough. Even new hot water heaters are breeding grounds for bacteria unless they are set to 160 degrees.

    Best thing for sponges is two minutes in a microwave every few days. Next best is soak in water with a little bleach. Next best is boiling water, but you can burn your fingers by accident if you pick the sponge up too soon. Not everything is killed in boiling water, sometimes it has to be boiled for 13 minutes (I read that somewhere).

    Growing up, I was taught that boiling water kills everything, but a few years ago scientists discovered some critters actually THRIVE in boiling temperatures. Yikes!

    There are pros and cons about going green. Sanitation is a big con especially in hotels (from luxury hotels to affordable hostels) where they “go green” by not washing the sheets and towels daily and never washing in hot water.

    Felicia, thanks for your writing blogs, I’m getting a lot of good info from them!

  2. Lara says:

    I do the boiling water trick when I am short on time. Usually, (when I remember!) I toss the sponge into the dishwasher, or, the washing machine. A trip through the clothes washer and dryer will kill anything.

    • Felicia says:

      Lara, that’s another good method (for some reason your comment got caught in my spam folder). I’ve tried the dishwasher and the microwave, but never thought of the washer and dryer. I guess the goal is to get it hot enough to kill all of the bad stuff.

      I’m getting in the habit of boiling my sponges before I go to bed so I have a clean fresh bacteria free sponge in the morning. No sense in cleaning the morning coffee spill with last night’s chicken juice. 🙂

  3. Bevlion says:

    I just can’t wait for the weekends to really go through this blog. I would have used the microwave too but I don’t have it nor a dishwasher any more. So I used the boiling water. After I boiled some eggs in my crock pot, (it took forever), I put the sponges into the still boiling water. That took care of d’em little critters! Thanks a lot for your ideas.

  4. Bevlion says:

    I can’t tell you how interesting I’ve found your blog…I was just asking myself, “how do I disinfect the kitchen sponge” I used to just throw it in the dishwasher or just microwave it. Bless you.

    • Felicia says:

      Bevlion, dishwashers and microwaves work too. I probably should have used the microwave, but there was something about old fashioned boiling water that just seemed right to me. 🙂