It seems like the battle between using a dishcloth or a sponge to wash dishes never ends. Some people swear by using a dishcloth, some people swear at it. I’ve heard women vehemently state “I wouldn’t touch my dishes with a germy sponge.” Then I’ve heard others counter with “Ew! A dishcloth can’t be any cleaner. Especially when you wipe your counters with it!” Read this informative article and find out the answers to the questions: Dishcloth or Sponge? Which Is the Cleanest Tool to Wash Your Dishes With?
Dishcloths and Sponges- Both Provide Breeding Grounds for Dangerous Bacteria
It doesn’t matter that a dishcloth is made from cloth, or that a sponge is made from foam or cellulose- both cleaning tools become breeding grounds for bacteria when they become wet, and are kept in a warm environment. Either one can easily become infested with E. coli, salmonella, and a host of other bacteria when they are used to scrub your kitchen sink or counters after you’ve prepared raw meat or vegetables, too. The common symptoms of E. coli infection are stomach cramps, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea. The common symptoms of Salmonella infection include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps.
If you don’t think your dishcloth or sponge is contaminated with bacteria after you use them, wait a few hours. Then, smell them. According to Kelly Reynolds, Ph.D., at the University of Arizona, the nasty smell they acquire is bacteria growing. (Health, October 2007)
Dishcloths and Sponges- Which Is the Cleanest Tool to Wash Your Dishes With?
When it comes right down to it, whether you use a dishcloth to wash your dishes with, or if you use a sponge, is strictly a personal choice. One tool is not naturally cleaner than the other. Actually, it is you the user that determines how clean or dirty your dishcloth or sponge is. If you use the same dishcloth or sponge you wash dishes with to wipe off your counters or kitchen table, they’re teeming with harmful bacteria, germs and viruses. According to Robin Bagwell of the University of Illinois Extension, “People who continually wipe up spills and wash counters with the same dirty kitchen sponge or dishcloth, day after day, are merely spreading bacteria around the kitchen.”
Dishcloths and Sponges- Proper Sanitation is the Key
So, since dishcloths and sponges can be equally bad when it comes to spreading bacteria, germs and viruses, the real evil is the lack of sanitation. According to O. Peter Snyder, Jr., Ph.D. from the Hospitality Institute of Technology and Management, “…the best practice is to use a clean sponge or dishcloth each day…” He also recommends using a brush to wash dishes. Because, brushes can be cleaned out easily by rinsing them. Plus, they dry quickly.
How to Properly Sanitize Your Dishcloths and Sponges
To properly disinfect your dishcloths, you should toss them in your washing machine with bleach and hot water. You can dry them in your clothes dryer. However, if you want to sanitize your dishcloths even more, hang them in strong sunshine.
To properly sanitize your sponges, you can also place them in your clothes washer with bleach and hot water. Or you can place sponges in your dishwasher and run them through a cycle.
The best way to kill 99.9% of the bacteria that’s present on the dish cloths and sponges you wash your dishes with, is to disinfect them in your microwave oven. To do this, according to a 2007 study from the Journal of Environmental Health, dampen the cleaning tools. Then, place it in your microwave oven on “High” power for 2 minutes.
However, there are 2 important warnings that go along with this method: First, do not place a dishcloth or sponge that contains any sort of metal in your microwave oven. And, second, using this method can cause fires, especially if the dishcloth or sponge isn’t damp enough! The sponge may also melt. So, use this method of sterilization at your own risk.
Carefully remove the dishcloth or sponge from your microwave oven afterwards. Allow it to cool down before you use it.