Washing Sponge

It is a standard joke that if you don’t have money to pay for dinner, the restaurant owner might end up making you wash dishes to pay for your meal. Hopefully, it will never happen to you. If it did, you might rue the fact that you never paid attention prior. That dishes get washed all the time all over the world is stating the obvious. Most of us though, just would not bother with how. If you did, something that should concern you greatly is the use of the dishwashing sponge.

Almost everywhere in the world, even in advanced nations, it is common to rinse the dishes or wipe them down with a sponge before putting them into a dishwasher. In many countries, the plates are washed using the sponge itself. It is the soap that is believed to be cleaning the dish. If the dishes look clean at the end, you would think that you most certainly earned your dinner, even if it was at the Ritz that you ended up a little short of money.

There is, however, something that we overlook. The sponge harbors trillions of microbes including bacteria that cause meningitis, pneumonia and other pathogens that attack your immune system. Just a single cubic centimeter of the sponge harbors several times the number of people on Planet Earth. If you fancy yourself as a smart person and you boil your washing sponge regularly, perish the thought. It only makes the bacteria recolonize the sponge with a vengeance. The new bacteria will be even more resistant.

Some experts recommend that you microwave the sponge or put it into the washing machine. Apparently, the heat helps kill the bacteria. Alternatively, replace the sponge every week. If washing sponges are still your thing, surely these precautions are worth it. Alternatively, just use surgical gloves and your hands. We did wash our dishes by hand since humanity was born, didn’t we?


Ritesh is a born again health enthusiast and holds a Certificate in Physiology from Harvard Medical School and a Certificate in Nutrition from Tufts University.