Health Care

Here's How Often You Should Really Replace Your Sponge

Here's How Often You Should Really Replace Your Sponge”

Alas, according to a new study from the journal Scientific Reports, the ways you've been cleaning your sponges may be entirely ineffective.

Additionally, five out of the 10 most abundant bacterium were closely related to risk group 2 (RG2) species, meaning they are potential pathogens that could cause infections, particularly in people with weakened immune systems.

The researchers, from the Faculty of Medical and Life Sciences, Institute of Precision Medicine (IPM), Microbiology and Hygiene Group, Furtwangen University, say their work revealed "an incredible bacterial colonisation of kitchen sponges, and visualised its extent for this common microbial hot spot for the first time".

A single cubic centimeter of a used kitchen sponge can harbor up to 54 billion bacterial cells, which means there may be more microbes in your kitchen than on your toilet seat, according to a new study by German researchers.

"The results were contradictory, for example showing effectiveness in the laboratory, but not in "used" kitchen sponges, and no method alone seemed to be able to achieve a general bacterial reduction of more than about 60 per cent".

The common kitchen sponge is one of those household items that has always been given a pass for being a haven for bacteria because of it's essential function: Every time you pour a glass of water or reheat a piece of a pizza on a plate, you need to sponge to clean up after yourself.

"Despite common misconception", the study read, "it was demonstrated that kitchen environments host more microbes than toilets".

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'This was mainly due to the contribution of kitchen sponges, which were proven to represent the biggest reservoirs of active bacteria in the whole house'.

The researchers also said that 'kitchen sponges not only act as a 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 if food-borne disease outbreaks'.

The team, from Furtwangen University, Justus Liebig University and the Helmhotz Centre, sequenced 28 samples from 14 different used sponges collected from households.

The owners of the sponges were kept anonymous, so the researchers couldn't assign a specific sponge's bacterial communities ta to a specific user afterwards. They found 118 different categories of bacteria from the samples. Sponges can also spread bacteria to places where it previously wasn't.

'Presumably, resistant bacteria survive the sanitation process and rapidly re-colonize the released niches until reaching a similar abundance as before the treatment'.

The recommendation was that sponges get replaced regularly, at least on a weekly basis.

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