Newsflash: Washing Your Dirty Sponge Won't Make It Clean

by Mike Julianelle
image via Shutterstock

The popular hack to clean your sponge actually makes things worse

If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

That certainly turns out to be the case with the popular sponge-cleaning hack that involves nuking it in your microwave. A new study reveals that the tip is not quite as helpful as we think.

Sponges are disgusting, and so it makes sense to want to find an easy way to clean them.

Markus Egert a German microbiologist at the University of Furtwangen, studied 14 used sponges and found 362 different species of bacteria living within them. 362. That’s one for almost every day of the year! (Math!)

And they are really cramming together, according to Dr. Egert, who discovered that a mere cubic inch of space housed 82 million bacteria. The rent must be outrageous!

“That’s the same density of bacteria you can find in human stool samples,” the scientist told the New York Times. “There are probably no other places on earth with such high bacterial densities.”

The filthiest things in the world are your poop, which, duh, and your sponge. You know, that thing you use to clean everything in your sink. Isn’t this just terrific?

At least there’s an easy way to clean them– oh wait, never mind, no there’s not. Because putting them in the microwave doesn’t actually work. In fact, it actually makes them even more disgusting.

According to a study published in last month’s Scientific Reports, while throwing the sponge into the microwave might kill the small bacteria festering within it, the strongest bacteria survives.

Microwaving makes that strong bacteria even stronger and causes them to reproduce.

This seals it: 2017 is a straight-up horror show.

So, is there any way to effectively clean a sponge?

Dr. Egert is the guy to ask.

“Now I’m an expert in how to clean sponges, Egerts says, which is probably not what the microbiologist went to school for. Unfortunately, he doesn’t think cleaning them is effective.

“When people at home try to clean their sponges, they tend to make it worse.”

Instead he suggests that if you can’t do it perfectly – and you can’t – you probably shouldn’t try at all, and should simply replace it every week or so.

That’s a lot of sponge-buying, a fact Dr. Egert is aware of. “I’m waiting for the sponge industry to call me.”