Germaphobes, look away now. Scientists have revealed just how much bacteria is found in the humble kitchen sponge, and it’s more than they thought.
Researchers analysed DNA samples from 14 different used kitchen sponges and found disturbing results. The researchers even goes as far as saying your kitchen has more germs than your toilet, thanks to your sponge.
In a scientific report on nature.com they revealed the dirty secrets lurking in the area where you prepare your food.
“Within a domestic environment, kitchens and bathrooms have a high potential to function as “microbial incubators”, due to the continuous inoculation of new microbial cells, e.g. by food handling and direct body contact to the domestic surfaces,” the report says. “The colonisation success of these microbes then depends on the suitability of the environmental conditions, such as humidity and nutrient availability. Despite common misconception, it was demonstrated that kitchen environments host more microbes than toilets.”
There is only one thing that is worse than the kitchen sponge, according to the report, and that is the drain trap.
For those of you who think you are cleaner than most because you clean your sponges regularly, think again. Their research also shows that commercial cleaners, and microwaving or boiling treatments aimed to sanitise your sponges only helped reduce the amount of bacteria by 60 per cent. That’s still a lot of germs lurking.
Why does that matter? Because it can make your sick. “Kitchen sponges not only act as reservoir of microorganisms, but also as disseminators over domestic surfaces, which can lead to cross–contamination of hands and food, which is considered a main cause of food–borne disease outbreaks.”
The recommendation was that sponges get replaced regularly, at least on a weekly basis.