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You probably use it every day — multiple times if you don’t have a dishwasher — but are you sure that the kitchen sponge you use to wipe your dirty dishes (and ultimately clean ones) is safe? A new study says probably not.
Researchers in Germany found that icky RG2-related bacteria (the kind that can cause foodborne disease) stays on your sponge even if you clean it in the microwave or boiling water.
“From a long-term perspective, sponge sanitation methods appear not sufficient to effectively reduce the bacterial load in kitchen sponges and might even increase the shares of RG2-related bacteria,” the researchers wrote in the paper.
They went on to suggest we should be changing our sponges every week, adding that it’s an easily affordable option for staying hygienic.
While the study shows that cleaning a sponge doesn't help with all bacteria, Good Housekeeping found that if you mix 3/4 cup bleach in one gallon of water, and soak the sponge for five minutes, it can help kill some germs in between replacements.
The takeaway? It’s probably best to just invest in a giant Costco-size pack of sponges and swap out on a weekly basis. And when it comes to cleaning your kitchen counters, opt for an antibacterial kitchen wipe from Lysol, Clorox or another brand just to be safe.