Kitchen sponges can harbor masses of unsavory germs and bacteria. Just think about it: they're constantly coming into contact with food remains and water, sometimes left damp to sit for hours, only to be used again in the same process. To say that keeping them clean is a good practice to pick up is putting it lightly. Here are a few helpful, easy, and safe ways to disinfect your sponges and keep them in good condition for as long as possible.

"Photo by every nothing wonderful"

Soak your sponges in lemon juice or white vinegar

Vinegar and lemon juice are actually pretty effective at killing bacteria! All you need to do is let your sponges sit in a bit of white vinegar or lemon juice for 1 - 2 minutes, and your sponges should be better than before. According to the USDA, this method kills off anywhere between 30 - 80% of harmful bacteria, so while it's not the most consistent strategy, it's still helpful for day to day maintenance.

Microwave your wet, non-metallic sponge

Zapping your wet sponge in the microwave for 2 minutes is an effective way of killing off bacteria too. Make sure it's got at least 1/2 a cup of water in there with it though, as microwaving a dry sponge (or a sponge with any metallic material in it at all) is a serious fire hazard.  Let it cool for a while before using, as it will be quite hot. This method is said to get rid of 99.99999% of bacteria, according to the USDA, so it's probably the best strategy for plain, non-metallic sponges.

Put your sponges in the dishwasher

If you let your sponges take a ride in the dishwasher through the whole wash and dry portions, you'll find your sponge about 99% freer of bacteria for it. The USDA found that many sponges washed this way (and in the microwave) contained .00001% of the previous amount of yeast and mold too!

Source: USDA

14 Must-Make Cauliflower Recipes.
Broccoli and Cauliflower Recipes Even Kids Will Love.
Hearty, Chunky Soups for a Cold Day.
Healthy, Easy New Ways to Enjoy Salmon.
10 Tasty Ways to Make Canned Tuna Gourmet.
What's in Season: Fall Vegetables You Can't Miss.
Crispy, Creamy, and Perfectly Cheesy Gourmet Gratins.
10 Creative New Ways to Cook Salmon.
Cozy into Fall with Savory Seasonal Soups.
Creamy, Comforting Macaroni and Cheese Recipes.
12 Terrific New Takes on Jalapeño Poppers.
Quick and Easy 5 Ingredient Pastas.
Edible Flowers from The Garden of Eat'n.
Snack Healthy with Homemade Hummus.
Every Dish is Made Better with Beer.
10 Exceptional Coffee Drinks to Make at Home.
10 Handy Meals Made in a Muffin Tin.
Vegan Appetizers Anyone Will Love.
Simple, Hearty Mexican Dishes for a Crowd.
10 Succulent Salmon Dishes for Healthier Eating.
Appetizer Ideas for the Big Game.
Italian Dishes Minus the Indulgence.
Cozy Chili Recipes and Creative Ways to Enjoy Them.
Fantastic, Flavorful 5-Ingredient Chicken Dinners.
10 Savory Curries You Can Make in a Hurry.
Top 10 Christmas Cookies of the Season.
5 Creative Cinco de Mayo Recipes to get the Fiesta Started!.
Fun Football Shaped Bites for the Super Bowl.
The Ultimate Super Bowl Appetizer: 5-Layer Football Field Dip.
Complete Your Meal With a Perfect Wine Pairing.
Pass the Chickpeas! 10 Healthy Garbanzo Bean Recipes.
Food Pairings with Sean McKenzie and Dave Matthews.
Top 10 Tips for Winning Dinners!.
From Apples to Kale to Salmon, How to Keep What You Love Fresh.
Cooking with Silk®.
Grow Your Own Ingredients: Fresh Garden Favorites.