Here's the icky truth: many of us (read: me) are guilty of using kitchen sponges on our dishes and surfaces for far longer than we probably should. Don't believe me? Microbiologists responsible for a recent study on the subject in the Scientific Reports journal recommend replacing your sponge every week.
If you're holding out hope that boiling or microwaving your favorite sponge frequently will keep it clean enough to remain in regular rotation, well, don't. According to the study, doing so can initially reduce roughly 60 percent of bacteria, but it will not sterilize the sponge. Even sponges routinely cleaned in this manner were found to have just as much bacteria as uncleaned ones.
But, hey, we get it — sponges don't grow on trees, guys. If you can't bring yourself to start tossing those suckers every week, you should probably shoot for at least once a month if you're washing dishes daily.
Even then, you don't necessarily have to chuck your trusty kitchen sponge entirely. Why not try a clever recycling hack instead?
Cut a Corner and Start Re-Purposing Your Kitchen Sponge
Where sanitary work is concerned, you should put that tired sponge out to pasture. But when it gets to that point — the point when it's obviously too gross to clean your counters and dishes with — cut off one corner.
That cut corner serves to identify that particular sponge as a utility sponge. It goes without saying you should make sure you cut the corner enough that you will actually notice it is cut, lest this entire endeavor prove to be an exercise in futility.
Stash it a respectable distance from your new, still-squeaky-clean sponges and break it out when you need to scrub grubby things like the trash can, toilets or even your tires. At some point, that hard-working little sponge will give out and truly be ready to be tossed. By then, though, you can rest easy knowing you quite literally squeezed it for all it's worth.