Sterilizing Sponges

A pile of sponges ready for cleaning.

Sponges are often used for the dirtiest jobs in the house. Sterilizing them is the best way to make sure they are free of germs and viruses. This is a guide about sterilizing sponges.


Solutions: Sterilizing Sponges

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Tip: Sterilizing Sponges

I put kitchen sponges in my dishwasher and run the cycle with a cup of bleach. After the dishwasher disinfects of the kitchen sponges, I spray them with a disinfectant spray and place in the microwave for about 50 seconds on high power. After completion of using the sponges to wash the counters, stove and other areas of the kitchen, I once again wash the sponges thoroughly in hot water, spray with a disinfectant spray and place in the microwave for 1 minutes at medium/high power. Make sure that there is no metal elements on the sponges before placing them in the microwave for disinfecting purposes.

I also use the same method for micro-fiber cloths. The sponges and the micro-fiber cloths are laundered in hot water in the washing machine once a week; otherwise, they are washed in the dishwasher with bleach; the bleach also disinfects the dishwasher.

By WandaJo

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Tip: Sanitizing Sponges and Dish Cloths

Whenever you run your dishwasher, tie or clip your dishcloth to the top rack of your dishwasher. It will get clean with your dishes! My mother does this. It saves both time and money on washing.

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Here are questions related to Sterilizing Sponges.

Question: Sterilize Your Sponge in the Microwave

I have seen comments regarding cleaning kitchen sponges in the microwave. How does one go about cleaning sponges with Teflon "scrubbie" on other side of sponge? Can you put that in microwave?

By Gayle from Rochester, NY

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Most Recent Answer


I have had no problems with sterilizing sponges with a scrub material on one side. I always do it with the sponge side down and the scrubbing material face up, but I don't know if that is necessary.

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Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the comments that were provided then.

Archive: Sterilize Your Sponge in the Microwave

Cleaning kitchen sponges? Soak the sponge in water and microwave for a couple of minutes. The heat will kill any bacteria. Use a tong to remove sponge. It will be VERY HOT.

Source: I just thought of this myself, as the microwave gets very hot.

By Robin from Gothenburg, Sweden

Editor's Note: The University of Florida researchers recommend making sure the sponge is very wet and microwave it for 2 minutes. Never walk away from the microwave during this time, just in case of a fire.

RE: Sterilize Your Sponge in the Microwave

I dump mine in with my regular wash. I figure if it gets the clothes clean it will do the sponges too. (07/21/2008)

By SunshineRose

RE: Sterilize Your Sponge in the Microwave

Microwaves operate by causing water, fat, salt, and sugar molecules to vibrate and cause heat. They penetrate from 3/4 to 1-1/2 inches into any item/food placed in the microwave oven. Microwaves are essentially radio waves, (radar, etc.), not nuclear radiation.

The heat of microwaving a wet sponge will surround all bacteria in the sponge, killing it. Bacteria cannot live without food and moisture, and must be in an environment from 40 degrees to 140 degrees F to grow successfully (human bodies are right in the middle of that range). Getting rid of a growth medium (food), drying the bacteria (salt, alcohol, etc.) or raising the temperature above 140 degrees will kill the bacteria. (11/25/2008)

By jstiles

RE: Sterilize Your Sponge in the Microwave

Germs/bacteria are killed at temperatures of over 140 degrees. So yeah the dishwasher or a bowl of boiled water will do the same as a microwave, and save electricity and your microwave. Sometimes lo-tech is better and cheaper than high-tech.

Same thing with toothbrushes, plain boiling water in a glass or cup sterilizes it. Swish it around before you take it out to shake off debris. Whenever you' re sick, you should sterilize your toothbrush every time you use it. Otherwise you're reintroducing the germs from the toothbrush every time you use it. (03/01/2009)

By jojo

Archive: Sterilizing Sponges

Love sponges in the kitchen but not the spread of household germs? Keep your sponges neat and clean simply! Each morning, rinse your sponge with a little soap. Leaving it wet, microwave it for three minutes. Be careful as it will be steamy!

RE: Sterilizing Sponges

I just tried this tip and the sponge almost caught on fire. I don't think I would leave it in for three minutes. (05/23/2007)

By I don't think I would try it

RE: Sterilizing Sponges

Sponge size and microwave power would effect the amount of time to sterilize a sponge. What is and ordinary size of a kitchen sponge? I have not found any reference other than ordinary kitchen sponge as to size or the microwave wattage when on high. (01/29/2008)

By Hanksberg