by Christel Swasey
The more we attempt to clean our kitchens using a sponge, the more germs we’re probably spreading around.
Most kitchen sponges are hopping with millions of bacteria, and are cross-contaminating appliances, cutting boards, and other countertops, according to Phillip Tierno, PhD, director of clinical microbiology the New York University Medical Center, and author of The Secret Life of Germs.
So, what’s his solution?
Tierno explains that the best and cheapest germicide available costs less than a penny to make. It’s simply a solution of water with just a little bit of bleach, that he suggests dipping sponges in, before wiping down surfaces.
The kitchen, he explains, is usually the dirtiest room in the house, “because we deal with dead animal carcasses on our countertops and in the sink.” That juicy raw meat we prepare in our kitchens can carry E. coli, salmonella, and other viruses and bacteria.
Tierno suggests letting the sponge air-dry.
Dryness kills organisms. He also suggests another easy way to keep bacteria from building up in the sponge: microwave it, for one to two minutes, each week. “Put a little water in a dish and put the sponge in that,” Tierno says, “that will boil and distribute the heat evenly and kill the bacteria.”
- Microwave your kitchen sponge for a minute or two, in a bowl of water, weekly.
- Dip your kitchen sponge in a water/bleach mixture before wiping down surfaces.
- After wiping surfaces, let the sponge air-dry.
This is good news. We can confidently ignore the many ads for expensive kitchen cleaners, knowing we have it from an expert researcher/doctor that the very best and cheapest germicide is simple, inexpensive, and homemade: just water and bleach.
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