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.

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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

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