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

Kitchen sponges play a big 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 we prep food on. 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. Here are five ways to clean a kitchen sponge, including high heat, natural ingredients, and more.

kitchen sponges next to plates

How to Clean a Sponge with Vinegar

If you're looking for an inexpensive, nontoxic, and biodegradable disinfectant, turn to vinegar. It can be used to clean your microwave, drains, showerhead, and, you guessed it, your grimy kitchen sponge. To clean your kitchen sponge naturally, soak it in full-strength vinegar 5 minutes. (No need to dilute it.) Ring out the vinegar, thoroughly rinse the clean kitchen sponge in warm water, and let dry.

How to Disinfect a Sponge with Bleach

Bleach is another great option for cleaning kitchen sponges. It kills viruses, mold, and mildew in addition to bacteria. Start by mixing 3/4 cup bleach in 1 gallon of water. Soak the kitchen sponge 5 minutes. Rinse well in warm water, and you’re done.

Editor's Tip: 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.

How to Disinfect a Sponge in the Microwave

Using the microwave is another great way to kill bacteria in a kitchen sponge. When using this method, always 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 5 minutes. Allow it to cool 15 minutes. Remove the kitchen sponge from the microwave and ring out excess water.

How to Disinfect a Sponge in Boiling Water

Although microwaves are a popular choice for cleaning kitchen sponges, it's just as easy to disinfect a sponge without the household appliance. Simply clean a smelly kitchen sponge in a pot of boiling water instead. Bring 2 cups water to boil in a pot. Place the kitchen sponge in the boiling water and let it for 5 minutes. Allow it to cool completely in the water, then remove the kitchen sponge and ring out excess water.

How to Disinfect a Sponge in the Dishwasher

Cleaning a kitchen sponge in a dishwasher may be the easiest solution of them all. Place the sponge in the top rack and run the machine through a heat-dry cycle to disinfect the sponge. The longest, hottest cycle is most effective, but any heat-dry dishwasher setting will kill the germs in your kitchen sponge.

To maintain a healthy kitchen, it’s important to clean kitchen sponges once a week. However, kitchen sponges should be replaced about once a month, depending on use. If they start to look shabby or smell bad even after it has been disinfected, it is time for a new kitchen sponge.


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