Before I realized you could disinfect sponges, I would throw mine away after a couple uses. I was sure I was just smearing germs around… and I probably was. Then, I discovered you can actually sanitize sponges very easily, and I wouldn’t need to throw them out until they started to wear.
What You Need to Sanitize Sponges
All you need is a microwave and water.
How to Sanitize Sponges
There are actually a couple ways you can sanitize sponges:
- Soak them in diluted bleach
- Wash them in the dishwasher
- “Cook them” in the microwave.
Here’s why I decided to go with the microwave method:
- I don’t love bleach. It’s a strong chemical that I try to avoid, unless the stomach flu hits, in which case bleach is my best friend.
- For some reason I’m grossed out by the thought of nasty sponges in the dishwasher with my forks and spoons. Plus, in order to disinfect the sponges properly, you’d need to use the sanitize setting to create really hot water, and the heated dry setting. I try to avoid excess energy costs whenever possible.
If you want to use a different method, go for it!
All you need to do is SOAK, as in, saturate, your sponges with water, and place them on a microwave safe plate. Put the plate of sponges into the microwave and run it on high for 2 minutes. Do not grab the sponges out of the microwave right away. I know you’re excited to get cleaning, but wait for them to cool first.
Please Note: I did the “microwave method” using cellulose sponges. This method may not work with other types of sponges.
Does This Method Actually Sanitize Sponges?
a bit of a nerd curious, I wanted to know whether this method did, indeed, kill germs. I set out to find the temperature required to kill bacteria, but found an article that was even better! Good Housekeeping actually tested all these methods to see how well they killed germs… in an actual lab, with real scientists. Here were the results:
Bleach: Killed 99.9%, which is what is needed to be considered “sanitized” by the EPA.
Dishwasher: Killed 99.9% on household sponges, but missed a few E. coli (99.88% killed) and salmonella (99.86% killed) in the lab-treated sponges… By lab-treated, I mean sponges that scientists actually infested with various bacteria. So, unless you’re deliberately pouring E. coli on your sponge, you should reach the coveted 99.9%
Microwave: Also achieved a 99.9% kill-rate on household sponges, but missed a couple E. coli on lab-treated sponges, getting only 99.83%.
I’m sticking with my microwave version because I have no intention of purposely infesting my sponges with bacteria.
*As a side note, the lab also tested the disinfecting power of vinegar, ammonia, and a washing machine. The results?
- Vineger: 99.6% killed
- Ammonia: 97% killed
- Washing Machine: 93% killed
Love it? Pin it!
I used the microwave method until I almost set a sponge on fire. It was seriously scorched. I’m not taking that risk anymore. I use the dishwasher daily and replace the sponges about every 2 weeks.
I use the microwave, but I do it for 3 minutes.
I am so glad I found your blog. Buying Febreeze was eating away our retirement and yours works wonders. Now I can save on sponges also. Good to know you will be out celebrating your anniversary. Tip one for us also, 39 years ago. He just keeps getting better and better! Hang onto the good ones and make them feel appreciated!
Erin Meyer says
Hi Sue! I’m so glad you found my blog too… and that you are finding some money saving ideas. Congratulations to you and your husband as you celebrate 39 years together!
I use the microwave or the dishwasher but it does not take the dark marks off. It still looks dirty to me. I am a compulsive tea drinker and that leaves a brown mark on the sponge. If anyone knows how to do that please let me know. And, Happy Anniversary to you.
Erin Meyer says
Thanks for the anniversary wishes Paula! In regards to the staining of the sponge, I would think running it through the dishwasher would have removed those stains, but you could try the bleach (which will most likely lighten the coloring of the sponge) or the vinegar. I also have a DIY stain remover you can try: http://www.the-organized-life.com/cleaning-tip-tuesday-diy-stain-remover/. Just spray it on the sponge, let it sit for an hour or two, and rinse (or run it through the dishwasher). I’m not sure how much work you want to put into the stain removal process. Just because there’s a stain wouldn’t mean the sponge is actually dirty or unsanitized, but if it bothers you, you can always try one of the ideas listed above. Thanks for you question!
I’m a tea drinker also and other than rinsing and rinsing, I sometimes add baking soda and rub it in then rinse. Of course if you clean your sink with comet, bar keepers friend, etc then rinse that will also take the stains out.
I think about this all the time and sanitzing my sponges. I tend to just throw them away but this is a much more cost effective way! Thanks for sharing and I’ll be doing this from now on!
Erin Meyer says
Awesome! I love when I find a trick to save me a little money, and because this is SO easy to do, I’ll actually do it.
I wonder if you can sanitize the heads of the sponges on sticks with the detergent inside. That’s the kind I like to use because I don’t like seeing dish soap on the counter. It has a plastic backing which is why I’m thinking I’d have to use the bleach or dishwasher method. I know I could look this up myself, but that’s what I’ve got you for! 🙂
Happy Anniversary–I hope you have something nice planned to celebrate!
Erin Meyer says
I’m thinking melting plastic in the microwave isn’t the best thing in the world. I definitely think the bleach is your best bet (or vinegar if you’re okay with only 99.6% bacteria death). You could certainly try the dishwasher, but make sure you get as much dish soap out as possible… Have you ever seen what regular dish soap does in the dishwasher? Bubbles, bubbles, everywhere. Pouring out on the floor… But you’d also have a clean floor which is nice.