Manufacturers of dishwashing products have long been telling everyone that kitchen sponges play host to millions of bacteria in order to sell its products, but scientists have now discovered that no amount of cleaning product could actually make sponges safer.
According to a study published in the journal Scientific Reports, the best course of action is to replace kitchen sponges weekly because simply cleaning them is not effective in getting rid of or even reducing bacteria in sponges.
Testing For Bacteria From Real Homes
In order to determine just how dangerous the seemingly innocent kitchen sponges are, the German researchers analyzed 28 different samples from 14 kitchen sponges collected from private homes in 2012.
Not only did they discover that there are more bacteria in kitchen sponges that originally believed, the researchers also found that several types of them are disease-causing bacteria.
"Our work demonstrated that kitchen sponges harbor a higher bacterial diversity that previously thought," the study authors reveal.
If anyone is wondering just how diverse bacterial activity is, the scientists involved in the study actually found a whopping 362 different types of bacteria and that five out of the 10 most common bacteria they found could potentially lead to human diseases.
Proper Sanitation For Sponges
Many people are probably thinking of heading to the kitchen to give their sponges a hot water wash or even a microwave treatment in order to kill all those harmful bacteria, but the researchers say those won't work at all.
"Sanitation by boiling or microwave treatment has been shown to significantly reduce the bacterial load of kitchen sponges and can, therefore, be regarded as a reasonable hygiene measure. However, our data showed that regularly sanitized sponges (as indicated by their users) did not contain less bacteria than uncleaned ones," the researcher reveal.
Not only did some of the bacteria survive the sanitation process, the researchers found that those "sanitation resistant" strains were able to quickly infest the sponge again and could even increase the number of disease-causing bacteria.
The researchers admit that further analyses are needed to substantiate their findings, but they still advise against DIY sanitation of kitchen sponges because it may actually do more harm than good. Their short-term advice is to simply replace kitchen sponges on a regular, weekly basis.
The result of the study is pretty concerning but some experts assure that there is no need to panic yet because bacteria can be found anywhere. The best thing to remember is to maintain good kitchen hygiene, disinfect utensils and surfaces especially after preparing uncooked food, and properly wash one's hands to avoid the spread of bacteria.