DNA tests conducted by team of German researchers found 362 kinds of different bacteria reside in a kitchen sponge after several weeks of use. For their study, the team analyzed more than a dozen kitchen sponges.
The analysis revealed that in many cases, the sponges are more bacteria packed than a toilet.
Researchers explained that the cleaning tools are teeming with microscopic bugs because they provide a moist environment which easily absorbs all kinds of bacteria including the potentially deadly salmonella, E. Colli, and Staphylococcus when you clean surfaces, dishes or just touch them.
“Despite common misconception, it was demonstrated that kitchen environments host more microbes than toilets,”
the researchers wrote in a report.
The good news is that most of the bacteria spotted during the DNA analysis is not harmful to humans. However, sponges may attract pathogens that could trigger infections in people with compromised immune systems.
Sponges can also easily spread harmful bacteria to other places. They can incubate bacteria and help them thrive. From kitchen surfaces and dishes, the bacteria can easily get into our bodies via either dirty hands or improperly processed foods.
Sterilizing Sponges Not Always Effective
Researchers recommend microwaving the sponges for more than a mnute to sterilize them. Other methods include bleaching them for five minutes, soaking them in oxygen peroxide-based solutions, vinegar, ammonia- or isopropyl alcohol-based products. These chemicals are proven to kill 99.9% of bacteria.
For the rest of .1%, researchers don’t have a solution. In addition, microwaving sponges is not 100% failproof as it cannot kill all the bacteria. The other serilizing methods can only lower the bacteria load by around 60%, the team found.
Paradoxically, the number of bacteria increased after a cleansing process, since some bacteria are immune to sanitation products. The only failproof method is to change sponges on a weekly basis, researchers said.
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