Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Kill those pesky germs in your sponges

It should come as no surprise that our kitchens harbor the lion’s share of our home’s bacteria, although my first guess was the bathroom. Germs are rampant in the kitchen and I read somewhere that one germ cell can multiply into 8 million within 24 hours. Yikes! Whenever you use a sponge or dish rag to clean your dishes or wipe off your counters there is a good chance that you are also spreading germs. Washing the dish rags or towels once a week is a healthy habit to get into and I have even heard of some folks soaking them in bleach or running them through a cycle in the dishwasher. Dishwashers only get up to about 140 degrees so this is not the most effective way to kill bacteria. My preference is to put them in the microwave. Make sure they are rinsed in cold water so they don’t burn and then turn the microwave on for 1-2 minutes. The sponge is going to be super hot so be careful when removing it. I have not tried this on cotton dish rags but I assume it will work just as good.

Tips for washing towels (and bed sheets):

  • With energy conservation on everyone’s mind I am seeing people switch over to all cold water for their wash cycles. Cold water is not good at killing or removing bacteria from towels. If your machine has a hot rinse cycle I would recommend this or maybe saving up all the towels (and bed sheets) and running an entire load of just hot water for these. Hot water (120 degrees or greater)kills bed bugs where cold water doesn’t.

  • Never use liquid fabric softener on towels or dish rags because water just sheets off instead of being absorbed.

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