How to Clean and Disinfect a Kitchen Sponge

If you're not cleaning your kitchen sponge regularly, you could be spreading bacteria. Learn how to disinfect a sponge using vinegar, bleach, and more.

Kitchen sponges play a significant role in keeping our homes clean. We rely on them for cleaning cooking essentials like pots and pans, the plates and bowls we eat from, and the counters where we prep food. So the last thing you should reach for is a germy kitchen sponge. To keep a kitchen sponge clean, aim to disinfect the sponge once a week.

kitchen sponges next to plates
Image courtesy of Getty.

How to Clean and Disinfect a Kitchen Sponge

Here are five ways to clean a kitchen sponge, including high heat, natural ingredients, and more.

How to Clean a Sponge with Vinegar

If you're looking for an inexpensive, non-harmful, and biodegradable disinfectant, turn to vinegar. It can be used to clean your microwave, sink drains, showerhead, and, you guessed it, your grimy kitchen sponge.

What You Need

  • Vinegar
  • Warm water

Step 1: Soak Sponge

Soak sponge in full-strength vinegar for 5 minutes. (No need to dilute it.)

Step 2: Rinse and Dry

Ring out the vinegar, thoroughly rinse the clean kitchen sponge in warm water, and let dry.

How to Clean a Sponge with Bleach

Bleach is another great option for cleaning kitchen sponges. It kills viruses, mold, and mildew, in addition to bacteria.

What You Need

  • Bleach
  • Water

Step 1: Mix Cleaning Solution and Soak

Start by mixing 3/4 cup bleach in 1 gallon of water. Soak the kitchen sponge for 5 minutes.

Step 2: Rinse Well

Rinse well in warm water.

Bleach and vinegar both have a strong odor. When cleaning with bleach, always work in a well-ventilated room. If you'd prefer to avoid these solutions, we share how to clean a kitchen sponge with heat and water next.

stainless streel built-in microwave
Helen Norman

How to Clean a Sponge in the Microwave

The microwave is another effective way to kill bacteria in a kitchen sponge.

What You Need

  • Water
  • Microwave

Step 1: Soak Sponge and Heat in Microwave

Soak the kitchen sponge in water first because a dry sponge can start a fire. Place it in a shallow microwave-safe container. Microwave the damp kitchen sponge for 5 minutes.

Step 2: Cool and Ring Out

Allow it to cool for 15 minutes. Remove the kitchen sponge from the microwave and ring out excess water.

How to Clean a Sponge in Boiling Water

Although microwaves are a popular choice for cleaning kitchen sponges, disinfecting a sponge is just as easy with boiling water.

What You Need

  • Pot
  • Boiling water

Step 1: Boil Water and Add Sponge

Simply boil a smelly kitchen sponge in a pot of water instead. Bring 2 cups of water to boil in a pot. Place the kitchen sponge in the boiling water and let it for 5 minutes.

Step 2: Cool and Ring Out

Allow it to cool completely in the water, then remove the kitchen sponge and ring out excess water.

How to Clean a Sponge in the Dishwasher

Cleaning a kitchen sponge in a dishwasher is one of the easiest solutions.

Place the sponge in the top rack and run the machine through a heat-dry cycle to disinfect the sponge. The most extended, hottest cycle is most effective, but any heat-dry dishwasher setting will kill the germs in your kitchen sponge.

It's important to clean kitchen sponges once a week to maintain a healthy kitchen. However, kitchen sponges should be replaced monthly, depending on their use. It's time for a new kitchen sponge if they start to look shabby or smell bad even after being disinfected.

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