Cleaning Sponges

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About: Eric J. Wilhelm is the founder of Instructables. He has a Ph.D. from MIT in Mechanical Engineering. Eric believes in making technology accessible through understanding, and strives to inspire others to lear...

Keep your kitchen sponges clean, bacteria-free, and smelling like nothing at all with this handy trick. Once you're done cleaning with the sponge, wring it out and set it in a window. The sunlight will dry the sponge out and kill most of the smell-inducing bacteria. I prop my sponges up so that only one small edge is touching and all the large sides are exposed to air. This method works much better than chemical or microwave-based approaches. I have literally used a sponge until it shredded and it never smelled bad.

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      21 Discussions

      I tried microwaving my sponges once, and it ended up being one of the worst ideas! What you do is so simple, I'm almost amazed that it works! I would love to be able to wash, wring out, prop up, and walk away from my sponges!
      https://www.google.com/search?q=cleaning&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8

      all you need is 1 minute full blast , make sure the thing is wet(I like soapy as well). At 1 minute my sponge is close to dry in spots. Needs a rubber glove (thicker dishwashing kind), or tongs to pick it up. You can do an additional 20-30 seconds if you are paranoid.

      After rinsing they smell clean.

      I have never had a sponge pop, (the structure allows water in and out easily, so unlike say peas, or a potato, no popping), or burn, but trying it for 2 minutes dried it out completely, it did not burn!

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      canidaaliceownsj00

      Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

      Microwaving sponges is only likely to cause a fire if they're dry - you have to make sure they're wet enough. Wet sponges, however, have their own problems in a microwave: they get very hot, and I've actually cracked one of those tempered-glass turntables microwaving sponges. Now that we've got decent sunlight, I prefer to let natural UV do the work.

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      aliceownsj00canida

      Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

      Ah see I knew there was something to that. Oh wow, lol well I'm just not going to bother putting one in there haha

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      Ya, I try to air/sun dry my sponges, but housemates tend to leave them in the sink no matter what. So 20 to 30 seconds in the microwave refreshes them much quicker when they are left dirty in the sink. Maybe the better solution in my case should be; don't have dirty housemates!

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      canidaaliceownsj00

      Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

      Well, it does suck less than many of the other options, and kills lots of bacteria. If you don't have a sunny window I'd recommend the microwave trick - just use a crappy plate/bowl you don't care about, and let the sponge sit/cool before you try to handle it.

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      kkarn

      9 years ago on Introduction

      I put my sponge in the dishwasher about every other time I run a load of dishes. I figure that cleans and disinfects it.

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      Eutychus82

      10 years ago on Introduction

      put the sponge in a bowl of soapy water in the microwave, then put under cold water, ring it out, and let it dry

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      awang8

      10 years ago on Introduction

      My soldering sponge stinks though... Wouldn't be using that to wash dishes! (IT's got lots of lead solder on it too!)

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      chriskarrPlasmana

      Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

      Of course it will kill algae - they have to be in water to survive (or at least common varieties do).

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      SFHandyman

      10 years ago on Introduction

      I have a habit of washing each dish as I dirty it. I don't let them pile up and wash as a group. I also keep the sink dry, and I haven't had to scrub it in 5 years. It still looks new. I'll do the Never Clean Your Sink Instructable one day.

      I never get a smelly sponge, even though they basically stay wet most of the time. Since I don't scrub the sink, the harshest detergent or soap my sponges get exposed to is dish soap, so it isn't getting sterilized from cleansers.

      This is what I do:
      Leave soap in it

      That's it. When you are done washing. Rinse the sponge out. Put some clean soap on it and squish it in. Then leave it like that.

      It doesn't waste. You use the soap next time you use the sponge, and I guess the bugs don't like being in soap, cause I never get any smell.

      I just went and checked to make sure I wasn't imagining this. hahaha I smelled my sponge. Nothing. I could kind of smell the soap but nothing else. It has already lost a chunk from one edge because I've been using it so long.

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      kill-a-wattewilhelm

      Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

      I stick mine in the freezer. Seems to work for food, so.. Hot water thaws them out quick.

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      SFHandymanewilhelm

      Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

      I have a sponge on a handle that holds dish washing detergent. I realized the sponge on it never smelled, so I tried it with other sponges. It's been working for me.

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      meddler

      10 years ago on Introduction

      I wonder if i could put up a string outside in a out of the way but sunny spot, and attach the corner of a sponge to it with one of those black office paper clamps.

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      gmjhowe

      10 years ago on Introduction

      Agreed, i love simple ideas that make life more efficient.