The Reason Your Kitchen Sponge Smells And How To Fix It

The Reason Your Kitchen Sponge Smells And How To Fix It

A stinky sponge is not normal. Or clean. Learn easy ways to sanitize your kitchen sponge.

A clean kitchen sponge does not have a bad smell. Only a dirty sponge has an odour. The smell is caused by germs, bacteria, or fungi. They flourish when the sponge is not cleaned or dried properly.

A smelly kitchen sponge can leave deadly germs like E.coli on counters and plates while you think they are now “clean.” Here are easy ways to nuke your sponge.

The Reasons Your Kitchen Sponge Has A Bad Odour

A kitchen sponge is designed to do two things – suck up soapy water and scrub stuff. However, the porous material is also the reason why these handy tools eventually turn into one of the dirtiest things you will ever own. The worst part is that the dirt flies under the radar because the naked eyes cannot always see it. The only hint that something is wrong is the bad smell.

When we clean things like cutting boards and counters, food particles slip into the sponge and stay there. Blood from meat, oils, and fat can also sneak into the pores. When a sponge is not properly cleaned, such biological matter begins to decompose. Eventually, it smells rancid or rotten. 

Besides having to inhale the horrible smell caused by germs and bacteria, a sponge that does not dry properly can also develop mould or mildew. This is another reason why a kitchen sponge starts to reek.

The Reason Your Kitchen Sponge Smells And How To Fix It

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The Microwave Method Kills Organisms

A popular way to clean a dirty kitchen sponge is to use the microwave method. However, some people make the mistake of just putting the sponge inside and hoping for the best. The correct technique is as follows:

Step 1: Take a microwave-safe bowl and fill it with room-temperature water.

Step 2: Place the kitchen sponge in the water and squeeze it with your hand to make sure that the water is getting into the sponge. 

Step 3: Place the bowl inside the microwave and heat until the water boils. 

Step 4: Carefully remove the sponge from the hot water and squeeze the excess water from the sponge. Take care not to burn yourself. Alternatively, you can also tip the bowl in the sink so that the sponge falls out. Run cold water over it to make it manageable but remember to express the water to make the sponge as dry as possible.

Step 5: Allow the kitchen sponge to dry properly.

Solution Mix 1 – Chlorine Bleach And Water

If you do not have a microwave or prefer another method, no worries. You can try several soaking recipes. This one calls for bleach and water.

Step 1: Gather a bleach safe bowl, chlorine bleach, water, and protective gloves.

Step 2: Mix the bleach and water (one part bleach, nine parts water).

Step 3: Add the sponge to the mixture and poke it a little so that it absorbs the fluid.

Step 4: Allow the kitchen sponge to soak for roughly half a minute. 

Step 5: Wring out the sponge and set it somewhere to dry completely.

Step 6: Do not reuse the mixture. Dispose of it safely.

Solution 2 – Vinegar

The Reason Your Kitchen Sponge Smells And How To Fix It

Vinegar is a good option if you do not want to work with the boiling water of the microwave technique or bleach. Using only vinegar is a very effective way of killing organisms inside a kitchen sponge. Vinegar is also a known anti-odour remedy.

Step 1: Gather a bowl and real vinegar. Do not use imitation or diluted vinegar.

Step 2: Add enough vinegar to soak the sponge.

Step 3: Add the sponge and work it with your fingers to absorb the vinegar. You can also pour a little vinegar on top of the sponge.

Step 4: Let the sponge soak for about 10 minutes. 

Step 5: Rinse the sponge thoroughly in water and allow it to dry.

Stick It In The Dishwasher

This is a very convenient method to sterilize your dirty kitchen sponge. Wait until you have a full load of dishes (you really don’t have to run the dishwasher just for the sake of the sponge). Stick the sponge inside and run a “heated dry” cycle. 

How To Properly Dry Your Kitchen Sponge To Avoid Odours

Dryness is another effective way to keep fungi, bacteria, and germs at bay. They need moisture to survive and thrive. For this reason, cleaning your sponge is only one half of getting rid of smells. It is just as important to properly dry your scrubber. Here are some of the most effective tips.

  • Wring the sponge out thoroughly before you set it out to dry.
  • Place the sponge at an angle in a small plate. Put the plate in an area where there is a draft, like a window sill. Check on it now and again and only use it again once completely dry.
  • Never leave it in a place where there is no air circulation. For example, on a shelf under the kitchen sink. 
  • Alternate between two sponges. Use the one today, the other tomorrow. This will give each kitchen sponge a full day to dry. 

How Often Should I Clean My Kitchen Sponges?

Every. Single. Day. If you baulk at the thought of adding another chore to your busy schedule, it’s understandable. But unfortunately, since a dirty kitchen sponge can make you or your family very ill, it is critical to stay on top of its cleanliness. The main reason why germs pose such a threat is that, in the right circumstances, they multiply extremely fast. 

When To Throw A Kitchen Sponge Away

If you maintain a consistent cleaning routine, your kitchen sponge will last quite a long time. However, another way to keep your family safe from possible infection is not to hang on to a kitchen sponge for too long. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that you should replace a kitchen sponge every two weeks. Some experts are not so lenient. They feel that you should toss a sponge on a weekly basis.

Learn more about why kitchen sponges are packed with bacteria.

Always Finish By Cleaning Your Hands

Whichever method you choose to clean your kitchen sponges, always remember to scrub your own hands afterwards. This is merely a safety precaution. You worked with potentially germ-ridden material and some of the little goobers might have jumped to your hands. 

A Quick Summary On Smelly Kitchen Sponges

  • A clean kitchen sponge will never smell bad.
  • A sponge with an odour likely has an infestation of germs, bacteria, or fungi. 
  • You can effectively clean your kitchen sponge in the microwave and dishwasher.
  • There are also several liquid solutions to fight odours and germs.
  • You should clean your kitchen sponge on a daily basis for the best results.
  • Properly drying your kitchen sponge is just as important as cleaning it.
  • It is also prudent to regularly replace your sponge. You can throw it away after a week or two. 
  • Always remember to sanitize your hands after cleaning your kitchen sponge.

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About the Author Harry Thompson

Involved in home renovations throughout his life, Harry is an expert in everything to do with home and garden DIY. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking and tending to his garden.