Unless you're adult enough to own a dishwasher, your cleaning up routine in the kitchen likely involves scrubbing your plates, pots, and pans with a kitchen sponge. When soaked in detergent, these bits of synthetic fiber can easily obliterate any grease and grime, but keeping them germ-free is a whole other story.
That's right, what you use to clean your eating utensils is actually a secret breeding ground of diseases. It's not really that shocking if you think about it: These sponges provide a warm and moist environment for microorganisms to grow, with nutrition coming from occasional food scraps. It's very important to dry your sponge after using them to pull the plug on any further bacteria growth.
Unfortunately, no amount of aggressive scrubbing and wringing will be able to eliminate these pathogens. One well-known household remedy suggests that microwaving your soaked sponge on a full setting for two minutes is an easy method to keep sponge germs at bay. This disinfecting method has been much disputed in recent years: Certain medical journals have claimed that it effectively eliminates 99% of bacteria, but there's a risk of overheating the appliance if the sponge is not wet enough. Obviously, this is an ill-advised approached for metal sponges.
The safest to get these bad boys sterile? A little bit of bleach solution goes a long way. In an interview with Tech Insider, Philip Tierno, a microbiologist and pathologist at the New York University School of Medicine, suggests immersing the sponge in a tub of diluted bleach. Then again, with all this hassle, you might want to make sure you swap out for a new one every now and then.