Disinfect a Sponge

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Introduction: Disinfect a Sponge

About: Made in Canada, I grew up crafting, making, and baking. Out of this love for designing and creating, I pursued a BFA in product design from Parsons School of Design in NYC. Since then I've done work for Mart...

Sponges have become the house norm for hand washing dishes and wiping countertops. Their potential for having both a soft and rough side makes them ideal partners in clean kitchen crime.  Their one BIG downside is how quickly they get stinky.  This happens because they tend to stay moist, never completely drying out between uses, encouraging the growth of bacteria. (Which can only grown in moist environments and is the cause of the odor.) 

Instead of just tossing them and opening a new one every time this happens, which adds to the burden on our landfills, extend their lives with this simple method to disinfect them.  

*There are several ways to achieve a 'clean' sponge. This one is great for those who don't have a dishwasher and want a scent free process and result. (Using vinegar and bleach are two other methods, but I don't like either of those smells!)

Step 1: What You'll Need

There are only two things you need to make this magic happen:

- a bowl or deep plate
- hydrogen peroxide

Step 2: The Process

Place the offending sponge in your chosen container and add approximately 2-3 inches of the hydrogen peroxide. 
Watch for the white bubbles to start forming. This is the bacteria (aka stink) dying!!

Leave it on the first side for a few minutes, then flip the sponge over, giving it a good squish all over to ensure that the peroxide has been absorbed all the way through the sponge.  (If you're grossed out by the bacteria bubbles, use a spoon.)

Leave it for a few more minutes. 

Remove it from the peroxide bath and rinse it thoroughly, giving it a couple of good squeezes to make sure that all the peroxide has been removed.

Step 3: The End and Also the Beginning

Et voila!

Your sponge won't look any better, but it will smell WAY better and be a sanitary kitchen tool once more, living to scrub and scour another day. (for many more days in fact!)

Tips on keeping it germ free as long as possible:

- Never leave it in the sink. It will be in constant contact with water and therefore an easy target for bacteria growth.
- Store it in a dish with drainage or on the edge of the sink. Even better, if available, lean it up against a window and the sun will help keep it dry and will also kill bacteria!

Now go forth and clean with scent and bacteria free confidence! 

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    58 Comments

    Nice !

    Thanks for posting.

    But I'm afraid thathydrogen peroxide mayb more expensive that discarding the sponge and using a new one.

    What do you think ?

    5 replies

    Or, you can nuke the sponge in a micro-wave (if you have one) for 45 sec

    Right ! I didn't think of this.

    And as far as nukes are concerned maybe someone should make and instructable about how to build a small domestic nuclear bomb for fast cleaning the whole house. After all many women work outside as much as men and they still are in charge of most of the chores in the house. A small device could be of great help of freeing women from domestic doom…

    Ozone generator, is a great disinfectant and odor removal, no need for chemicals, just plug it in power outlet and leave the home or the room for a couple of hours. that is all you need. Ozone treatment is a great job

    Ah ! What a great idea. As soon as resume my 1st grade in Elementary Physics (of which I dropped out around 1965) I'll get to the job !

    Thank you, you've been of great help !!!…

    ;)))

    Did you know that if you spray peroxide then spray vinegar that this will kill more germs than Clorox bleach?Yes, this is true studied by a collage in the US.This will clan counter tops,chopping blocks or a sponge without all the toxins and more germs.Pleas fee free to Google this.

    I like all your posts, but can't you just microwave a sponge to kill the bacteria?

    Hydrogen peroxide??? isn't thet the key ingredient in bleach (even if its the hair stuff). Also point out its a chemical agent so be careful and use your marigolds if sensitive to bleach. Other than that very good idea.

    3 replies

    Key ingredient of bleach is chlorine, consumer grade peroxide is fairly harmless and works quite well for disinfection of both items and wounds.

    Actually, although Chlorine is what people typically refer to as bleach, psycophonic is correct that H2O2 is one of the main ingredients in hair bleach (you can actually do DIY hair bleaching with just H2O2), as well as non-chlorine laundry bleach (OxyClean, etc). The type you get at the drugstore or grocery store is diluted to 3%, which is not too dangerous but you do need to be aware that it has bleaching qualities. It will leave white spots on your skin if you handle it without gloves (thankfully they heal back quickly) and could bleach your clothes if you splash it on them. The vapors are not as dangerous to breathe as Chlorine, however.

    Sorry. I stand corrected. My effup. As said though great idea.

    I just did this and wow! The poor sponge, which had been in use for a week, produced foam for over 3 hours of sitting in the H202. Previously, I had soaked the sponge in water and steam sanitized it in the microwave (3 minutes). I might alternate methods to make sure everything is killed.

    Also you could designate a ziplock bag for sponge cleaning by writing the word "SPONGE" on the bag with a sharpie. Of course the big bowl method is great; I only submit this suggestion because I suspect there are many folks scratchin their heads at the notion of using 50 cents worth of peroxide to clean a 50 cent sponge...
    Anyway the right sized ziplock bag could greatly reduce the amount of peroxide needed to do the job...

    Salmonella is one of the major concerns in most kitchens; I am reasonably confident that freezing will do very little to keep salmonella at bay. Even if freezing did kill 75% of a certain type of bacteria (& I am NOT sayin it would actually kill this much); we need to remember that under the right conditions bacteria can double in 20 minutes...
    H2O2 can be purchases quite cheaply at the dollar store, etc.. I would recommend using a square shaped soap dish (also available @ the dollar store; look for the big blue, plastic, travel soap dishes) to minimize the H2O2 needed to immerse the sponge. Also I would let that sponge soak for 15-20 minutes and it will likely clear up the discoloration. Also another method that comes to mind which would be really cheap is to steam the sponges the same way you would steam veggies in an elevated strainer/steamer tray...

    Please take precautions when handling hydrogen peroxide! It can bleach the skin on your hands (temporarily) and any natural fibers it comes into contact with PERMANENTLY (such as splashes on your clothing). I recommend wearing latex or neoprene gloves, and make sure you're not wearing clothing you don't mind getting bleached spots on.

    I just toss mine in the dishwasher, but I like this idea

    Well rinsed, wet sponge in the microwave for under a minute. Do this once or twice a week. I imagine putting the sponge into a zip-lock bag and then into the freezer over night would kill a lot of bacteria.

    2 replies

    As per comments above, I don't think a freezer will kill bacteria; they'll just lie dormant until the sponge defrosts.

    When water freezes it forms crystals. The crystals punch holes through the bacterium's body. The holes kill the bacteria. This is why you cant yet freeze and thaw out a human. There is a frog that can be frozen, then thawed but that is to only example that I can think of. All very interesting stuff.