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The Dirty Sponge

We all need towels, rags, or sponges to clean hard surfaces in our homes. The ubiquitous sponge is a very common one found in virtually all kitchens and most bathrooms. They are used to clean everything, from dishes to countertops to stovetops and more.

And while we tend to toss paper towels into the garbage can, or wash cotton or other cloths when we do the laundry, at times the sponge can be used and reused and weeks—even months—can go by without cleaning the sponge itself.

How can you clean and reuse sponges? According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), your microwave or dishwasher is one of the best ways to clean them and kill bacteria simultaneously. They can eliminate nearly 100 percent of bacteria, helping you to maintain proper hygiene practices.

For cleaning and disinfecting sponges in the microwave, thoroughly wet the sponge before putting it inside. Do not microwave a dry sponge, that’s a fire hazard. Microwave the wet sponge on high for just one minute. That zaps the bacteria. Take it out, thoroughly wash it with soap and water, and wring it out and you now have a fresh, clean, healthy sponge to use again.

Your dishwasher is effective as well, but not as quick. When you wash your dishes, put it on the top rack and let the dishwasher do all the work. It’s pretty simple. Having the drying option activated means it gets that high heat, which will kill bacteria.

But there comes a time when you need to make a hard decision. Yes, that sponge has been faithful, but a kind but firm farewell is warranted after so many uses. The USDA recommends replacing sponges every two weeks to minimize the risk of bacteria buildup and even more often if they get a funky odor. Most do not follow this recommendation, but it’s an option if your budget for sponges is healthy.

Other maintenance tips include wringing them out in hot water after every use and allowing them to dry completely by putting them in a spot that provides fresh air and even sunshine, which is often possible in a kitchen.

Keeping your home nice and clean and healthy is important, and besides doing some of the tasks yourself, there is a better way. Call your favorite cleaning company today, especially for those tough project jobs such as tile and grout cleaning, carpet cleaning, and furniture care. After all, it pays to call a pro!

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