The #1 Mistake You're Making When Washing Dishes
Washing dishes is an inevitable—and often dreaded—chore. While you may be able to delegate some of the load to a dishwasher, there are some items that just have to be hand-washed (check out these eight items that should never go in your dishwasher) or require a little extra TLC. As you're scrubbing away, you may be surprised to learn that choosing a sponge versus a dish brush can have an impact on the amount of bacteria in the kitchen. In fact, using a sponge instead of a dish brush is the No. 1 mistake you're making when washing dishes—here's why.
Both sponges and dish brushes are effective tools for cleaning dishes—but when it comes to bacterial growth, a 2021 study published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology concluded that dish brushes are the more hygienic option. The study found that brushes had the lowest bacterial numbers, which was in part due to their ability to dry quickly and absorb less water than sponges. Meanwhile, the study noted that a sponge's longer drying time and humid conditions could help facilitate the growth of Salmonella, a bacteria that frequently causes foodborne illness, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
While it may seem like a minor choice, switching to a dish brush instead of a sponge can help reduce your exposure to bacteria in the kitchen. Another easy food-safety measure you can follow is to clean your dish brush or sponge frequently. The study also identified the three most effective methods for cleaning these tools: soaking in chlorine, cleaning in a dishwasher and boiling. While none of these methods will completely eliminate all bacteria, they will reduce it and can help extend the usability of the brush or sponge. Better yet, plan to replace your dish brush or sponge on a regular basis. For brushes, cleaning service company Molly Maid recommends every four weeks, while sponges should be replaced every week. When you notice the bristles on a brush fraying, or your sponge or brush has an odor, it should be tossed.
Kitchens can be breeding grounds for many bacteria, from sources like raw chicken to damp dish towels. One easy way to minimize bacterial growth is to use a dish brush instead of a sponge when hand-washing dishes. Be sure to regularly clean and replace your dish brush.