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The last thing on your mind while doing the dishes is how fresh your sponge is—but maybe it should be. Consider all the different items it touches regularly. From vegetables, to meats leftovers, that’s a lot of bacteria that dish soap has to get rid of. Turns out, highest source of germs is the object you clean your plates with. While gross, the first step is accepting it’s not as clean as you think.

“That thing is very dirty”, says Philip Tierno, microbiologist and pathologist at the New York University School of Medicine, as he told Business Insider. Between being in a moist environment like a sink only gives more time for potential bacteria to grow.

If you still have doubts about your kitchen sponge being a hotbed for germs then we have bad news. According to a study from 2017, five out of the ten common bacteria found on kitchen sponges have the potential to cause disease. One of these can even include E.Coli thanks to vegetables.

And if you don’t want to start buying kitchen sponges more, what are some ways to clean them and have them last longer? Well, it depends on how regularly you use it. If it’s daily then you according to the study you want to have it changed weekly. However, if the kitchen sponges aren’t being used often, then they can last longer.

If purchasing more sponges seems like a hassle, the best way to get the most of your kitchen sponge is to clean it more often. A thorough cleanse once after every use is best.

If you’re not sure of the best ways clean your kitchen sponge aside from soap, some helpful methods include soaking it in diluted bleach or vinegar for roughly five minutes. You’ve been told.

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