Sponges Are Gross

by anna on August 1, 2008

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I know a bunch of you are like, “DUH!!” But sponges were a giant mystery to me . . . how come they always smell gross? Does everybody use gross-smelling sponges? Do you have to throw them out after a week, or is there some secret to keeping them clean that I’m missing?

Oh yeah, I tried the dishwasher thing. You put it in the dishwasher, it comes out waterlogged with nasty dirty dishwasher water and detritus. And the microwave thing–it makes it warm, sometimes makes it turn black, and doesn’t do anything to kill the smell.

We tried using brushes for a while, but I don’t think those are any better. So I thought, well, I guess I just have to throw them out all the time. But this felt really wasteful, and it seemed like something Al Gore would frown upon. So I went to the message board community with my query, and one of the longtime posters said that she threw hers out every week, but that she would cut each sponge in half so as to be less wasteful, and also so that the sponge would fit into her glasses. Depending upon the size of the sponge, I guess you could also cut it into quarters. This sponge (cut in half) is by O-Celo and I got it at Target.

Sponges are still gross, but not as bad as they used to be.

{ 14 comments }

Jamie Harrington August 1, 2008 at 8:48 am

I so agree about sponges OMG! They are SO nasty! I have decided that I don’t need to use them… I just use paper towels and try to make it up to our friend the environment in other ways because ick! Anything that stinks that much can not be good for my family.

SportsFan's Daughter August 1, 2008 at 9:06 am

Agreed, sponges are nasty. My husband tries to convince me that touching one gives him ‘Nam-like flashbacks to being a child and having his mother use the dirty dishcloth to wipe down his face. Nice try… now go do the dishes.

Katrina C August 1, 2008 at 12:37 pm

I can’t stand sponges. I never use them myself and always rewash any dish in the house I’m about to use as my roommate swears by them and usually ends up doing the dishes. The really really really gross thing, and hence the re-washing, is that she uses the same sponge to wash the people dishes that she uses to wash the animal dishes. Not so bad for the cat or the dog who have designated places to use the restroom. However the ferrets seem to think their litter boxes are beds and the rest of the cage is the bathroom. Their dishes frequently have excrement on them. I ususally eat out.

I make my own , easily sanitizable, dish cloths. You can find them in my etsy shop. Or if you knit you can find thousands of patterns online and for a $1.27 plus tax at any local mart store make your own

J. August 1, 2008 at 1:26 pm

I’m with Kat C. Dish cloths can be thrown in the wash when needed. I bought like a 30-pack of white cotton washcloths at Target. When we’re done with them in the shower, they become dish cloths then dust rags, and they get washed with bleach in hot water. Cotton is also recyclable if you can find someone to recycle it.

anna August 1, 2008 at 2:04 pm

Using a dishcloth to wipe a child’s face might be construed as child abuse.

I’m just saying.

J. August 1, 2008 at 2:26 pm

On a completely unrelated note, “crazed super-boobers” is my new favorite phrase. I will be using it in conversation as much as possible.

Minerva August 1, 2008 at 6:22 pm

This is not a criticism so please don’t take it that way–but why do you fret about tossing a sponge every week when you spend over 80 bucks to get your brows waxed? It’s like me when we’re at a restaurant–”ooh, I’d love to get that with cheese, but it’ll be an extra dollar fifty.” And my husband’s like, “Your drink cost ten bucks.”

Toss the sponge.

anna August 1, 2008 at 7:07 pm

Good question! I guess just because it seems wasteful . . . like piling up in a landfill kind of wasteful. Sure, spending that much on my brows is (arguably) wasteful of money, but I’m not really causing global damage by doing it.

But that is a good point. I don’t think it was the financial cost of the sponge, though.

AKD August 2, 2008 at 10:13 am

My dad, who you might remember is an obsessive-compulsive cleaner, swears by the Dobie pad (by Scotch Brite, maybe you could get them to send you some free samples so you could try them and write about it). I’m not sure why it is better than a regular sponge, but it never smells at his house. He’s probably soaking it in bleach on a regular basis. He also uses those white bartending towels (square) to wipe down counters. Maybe that’s the trick.

Angela August 2, 2008 at 4:46 pm

If you like the way sponges work, you can sanitize them without the dishwasher or microwave. Use a sanitize solution of one capful of bleach per gallon of water. Let the sponge soak for a few minutes and it will be sanitized. This solution can also be used for dishes, if you’ve got someone at home with the flu or whatever. (Do this as a “last step” AFTER rinsing and before air drying.) All Environmental Health Departments require this very solution; unless you are using a Quaternary Sanitizer.

It won’t hurt you or make you sick.

Sara August 2, 2008 at 11:58 pm

So much about sponges! I discovered this “new” kind of sponge that seems to get nasty at a slower rate. They are purple and made by Scotch Brite. I think they are made of foam. I am able to get more use by washing them with my cloth napkins.
I have bad memories of stinky, old sponges that my grandmother would use for months. She was otherwise a clean and tidy woman, but I think her frugality got the best of her.
Okay, now I’m going to go wash my sponges.

anna August 3, 2008 at 6:18 pm

Wow, people feel strongly about sponges!

AKD, I have not tried that brand before. Perhaps I will give it a go. I don’t know about the bleach solution, Angela, I believe you that it is safe but I think there is some kind of psychological block I have about putting bleach on something that will touch surfaces off of which I eat. Then again, I use bleach on my clothing, and that touches my skin . . .

I am finding that these sponges are OK for about a week to ten days, if I rinse them out carefully and allow them to dry in the dish rack. I like the design of the scrub-side, though the other one in the package has usually has a different print.

[Yes, I scrutinize the design printed on the top of my sponges. Doesn't everyone?]

Angela August 4, 2008 at 5:59 pm

My husband feels exactly the same way you do about bleach. I cannot, for the life of me, convince him that a capful of bleach per gallon of water will not kill him instantly. lol

Juliet September 19, 2008 at 7:55 am

Toss regularly and also since like me you live in So Cal you can set them out in the sunlight. UV light is a very good sanitizer. I do this with our toothbrushes too. It dries them out very thoroughly. I use paper towels for most wet messes around the kitchen & other parts of the house. I use washable/bleachable white rags (Gerber thin birdseye weave cloth diapers) for many other types of messes or cleaning (like bathroom) and sponges are ONLY for dishes. ONLY. But the horrible thing about living with others is the horrible things they do by disregarding these strict rules. I’ll sometimes spot Scott wiping up around the cat food dishes (i.e. on the floor) with a sponge. Erk.

I toss sponges weekly and keep meaning to start doing the cut in half thing. By the way Dobie pads are great too. I toss those weekly also. What I like about them is how effective they are while still being gentle – much gentler than something like a Scotchgard or Brillo.

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