The very tool that scrubs away the gunk and grime from our dishes is the dirtiest item in the household, according to a study conducted by NSF International, a public health and safety organization. Researchers found traces of coliform, bacteria that contain both salmonella and E. coli, in 75 percent of the sponges tested. Why so dirty? Germs thrive in moist and warm environments, and sponges in particular have plenty of nooks and crannies where bacteria can multiply.
Clean up: Microwave your sponges for two minutes every day and replace them every two weeks, says Donna Duberg, assistant professor of clinical laboratory science at Saint Louis University says. Soaking them for 20 minutes in a mixture of vinegar diluted with water can also sanitize them. But overall, Duberg recommends tossing the sponge and using a dishrag you can throw into the washing machine instead.
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