You Dirty Little Thing | The Food Party! | Laura Stec | Mountain View Online |

Local Blogs

By Laura Stec

You Dirty Little Thing

Uploaded: Jan 11, 2017

I consider myself pretty easy to work for, but I do have a serious pet peeve about porous, squishy things. With the kitchen sponge – there is no patience.

AKK! I go crazy when people use the dish-wash sponge to clean. Don’t do it!! You just transfer the icky, stickies on the counter and in the sink to a perfect reproduction clinic. Your little buggies set up shop, spend the night, and proceed to grow to epic, world-conquering proportions.

“Sponges are usually the dirtiest thing in the kitchen,” says microbiologist Manan Sharma of the USDA’s Food Safety Laboratory. We should listen to her. A 2011 study from the public health non-profit NSF International (based in my hometown, Ann Arbor, MI - Go BLUE) found the germiest room in the house was the kitchen, and the germiest thing in the kitchen was the sponge. - 77 percent of the sponges tested contained coliform bacteria, 86 percent had yeast and mold, and 18 percent had Staph bacteria. Unexpectedly, the bathroom came in as #2 most-germiest place in the house.


Sponges have a lot of holes that hold onto food and water, a prime spot for bacteria, molds and yeasts to grow. Plus after use, people often leave the sponge lying flat to wallow in its own moisture all day and night. Coliform and Staph can both cause serious infections in individuals with a compromised immune system, as well as the very young, elderly and pregnant women. Coliform may be tracked to feces.


Rinsing your sponge out is not enough, and soaking it in bleach or lemon juice doesn’t do the trick either. Like anything in the kitchen, you want it to dry out between uses.* The best and fastest solution is microwaving the WET sponge for one minute or putting it through the dishwasher. And for counters and sinks, please use a dishcloth (or paper towel) to clean, then wash or hang overnight to dry.

So here’s a little game for you. Number 1 – 10 the most-to -least germiest house hold items below.

Answer later in the week.


Kitchen sink
Pet bowl
Kitchen sponge
Toothbrush holder
Kitchen counter top
Pet toy
Cutting board
Bathroom light switch
Toilet handle
Bathroom faucet handle
Stove knobs
Bathroom doorknob
Coffee maker reservoir

Stand up your sponge after you are finished with it

* Actually, you want to dry out EVERYTHING between uses. Don't put bowls or tupperware away wet. Completely dry things before storage. The sponge is just the worst here - because it takes so long to dry.