Many people don’t stop to think how hard sponges work in keeping kitchens and bathrooms clean. For this reason, these inexpensive tools, particularly the kitchen sponge, need regular care, too, to prevent the spread of infectious bacteria.


Sponges are well suited to picking up liquid spills such as water drops and spots, fruit juices and the like. However, it’s much safer to use a paper towel with a disinfectant cleaner to mop up juices from meats, poultry or fish. That way, you can just toss out the towel rather than risk having illness-causing bacteria multiplying on the sponge, ready to be spread on hands, counters and cooking and dining utensils.


Sponges should be cleaned often. The kitchen sponge should be washed on the top rack of the dishwasher at least twice a week. For added safety, consider sanitizing sponges after washing them. Try one of the following methods:

  • Place the moist sponge on a narrow edge in the microwave oven and zap it for one to two minutes – long enough to generate steam. Open the door and let the sponge cool for a few minutes before removing it, or use tongs. Steaming sponges can scald hands.
  • Drop the sponge in a pot of boiling water for three minutes. Let the water cool, or add cold water, before removing the sponge.

Bathroom sponges also should be cleaned occasionally using the same methods. Be sure to wash bathroom sponges first before sterilizing them to remove all cleaner residue.


Don't use bleach to disinfect sponges. Bleach can speed the disintegration of the synthetic materials in sponges.




Consumer Reports editors, How to Clean and Care for Practically Anything.
Don Aslett, The Cleaning Encyclopedia: Your A to Z Illustrated Guide to Cleaning Like the Pros.

*UMass Lowell/TURI does not certify, endorse, recognize or recommend products.