Most people wash their dishes and clean their kitchen sink with the same kind of sponge. You know the one, yellow on one side, tough and dark green on the other.

This kind of sponge is perfect for washing dishes, glasses, and the pots and pans we use for cooking. The fact that the yellow side is gentle means that you can use it to clean your glasses and silverware without worrying about scratching them, and the green side has enough grit to break through greasy or burnt remnants left behind on pans.

You might even clean your bathroom sinks or shower with a similar sponge too.

But what if we told you that these kinds of sponges have a hidden dark side?

Why Do We Wash the Dishes?

Does that question seem obvious to you? Is it so obvious that even asking it seems kind of silly?

Humor us for a moment.

The answer to that question is multi-faceted, but the main reasons you may be thinking of are some of the following:

We wash the dishes because, if we didn’t, the dishes would always be dirty.

We wash the dishes to make sure our home is clean and free of flies or bad smell.

We wash the dishes because it’s normal to clean something that used to have food on it.

There’s one thing that all of those reasons have in common, one problem that washing the dishes is supposed to address…


Put simply, bacteria are microscopic organisms that exist on pretty much every surface and we come into contact with. Most of these microorganisms are entirely harmless in small numbers but, given the chance, they can multiply exponentially and overwhelm our immune systems with an infection.

Like any living organism bacteria need to eat, and they thrive on any food product that’s left out for an extended period of time, even one as tiny as a speck of food on a plate you cleaned quickly and ineffectively. 

When it comes to food products and utensils like plates, pots, pans, plates, and glasses, the most harmful bacteria are the ones that come from raw or unprocessed food products. 

If you use a knife to cut raw meat, for example, and then leave that knife on your kitchen counter without washing the bits of raw meat on it away, bacteria already present in the meat will begin to grow and multiply, spreading across your kitchen counter.

According to the Center for Disease Control, raw meat, chicken, and seafood can often carry dangerous, pathogenic bacteria such as E. coli, salmonella, and even the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, which causes Listeria meningitis and is often found in unpasteurized dairy goods, deli meats, hot dogs, and even raw fruits and vegetables!

These harmful kinds of bacteria are made even more dangerous in a kitchen environment, as they can move from uncooked food like raw meat, to a plate with food you are about to eat, causing you to consume it unwittingly. 

Fighting Back Against Bacteria

So it’s safe to say that not washing your dishes or kitchen utensils properly can lead to the growth and propagation of harmful bacteria, but what are some steps we can take to combat this?

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics over at, a very effective way to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria is to wash kitchen surfaces, cutting boards, dishes, and cooking utensils with hot, soapy water after each use.

Another very helpful fact that the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics brings up is to rinse produce (vegetables) under a running tap without using any soap…but here’s the most important part! 

They specifically state not to wash seafood, meat, poultry, or eggs, as doing so can actually spread whatever harmful bacteria may already be present in them. Simply prepare these ingredients on their own, separate cutting board and then cook them. The heat from cooking these food products should kill any harmful bacteria.

But what about your kitchen sponge? Surely that’s safe from bacteria, right?

Soap is not Safe from Bacterial Growth

Now, don’t feel bad if you thought that bacteria couldn’t grow on a kitchen sponge! It’s a perfectly understandable belief, and one that most people don’t stop to think about.

After all, you buy dish soap specifically because it kills bacteria, right? The dish soap sitting next to your kitchen sink probably mentions that it’s “tough on bacteria” or “kills 99% of germs.” So it’s perfectly natural to dip your kitchen sponge into that soap, wash your dishes, and then toss it back onto the soap without giving it a second thought.

But what if we told you that that’s exactly what the problem is?

The truth is that dish soap isn’t immune to bacteria, especially if you don’t rinse your kitchen sponge off before putting it back in the soap container. 

In fact, bacteria can grow on any kind of soap, including the hand soap in your bathroom. In a study done by John Heinze, different kinds of bacteria were introduced onto bars of soap to see if they would survive.

Most of them did and one of the most dangerous ones, E. coli, had the highest survival rate. 

This is due to the fact that most soaps, even the kind designed to wash dishes, are not designed to kill bacteria.

According to Business Insider and Joy Phillips, PHD, the main objective of dish soap is to lift bacteria up from the surfaces they’re clinging to so that the water can wash them away. 

While you can buy antibacterial soap, the FDA states that there’s no evidence that antibacterial soap is any more effective at removing bacteria from plates and food than regular dish soap.

When it comes to removing bacteria from your hands or from a kitchen utensil or plate, what makes a difference is the actual physical action of washing something, of moving the soap over it and, along with the water, physically pushing the bits of food and the bacteria that might be growing on them away. 

Which brings us to the biggest problem about your kitchen sponge: where you put it.

Dish Soap Containers: a Breeding Ground for Bacteria

Some people have a dedicated kitchen sponge receptacle close to their kitchen sink, usually a kind with holes or a grate that drains water and excess soap directly into the sink.

Others simply put their kitchen sponge directly into their dish soap container. 

Which of these two approaches do you think is more effective at preventing the growth of bacteria? Using the dish soap itself as a container, or buying a dedicated container for your sponges?

If you answered that the dish soap container is safer, you’re wrong. 

Remember, soap isn’t immune from bacterial growth or buildup. So, by dipping your sponge into the soap and then using it to clean food and bacteria off of kitchen plates and utensils, and then placing it back in the soap…all you’re doing is transferring the bacteria from your plates back onto your soap, where it can grow and multiply freely!

The more you use your kitchen sponge, the more bacteria it comes into contact with, which leads to your dish soap container becoming a petri dish teeming with many different kinds of bacteria.

And it doesn’t just end there. Have you guessed what the underlying cause of all these problems is?

Sponges: the Root of the Bacterial Problem

Sponges themselves are the problem!

Look, we get it. Sponges aren’t cheap, even if many of them come in packs of two or three, but people aren’t hesitant to replace their sponges just because they don’t want to buy another one. 

Kitchen sponges can be incredibly durable, especially if you don’t use them to scrub at something hard and coarse like burnt food or an old frying pan, and just stick to plates and glasses. 

Most people replace their kitchen sponges when they start to look worn down or discolored, or even until they begin to break apart. 

By this point, of course, it’s much too late!

But why? 

You’re probably washing your kitchen sponges after you use them, probably even with hot water, but sanitizing your sponges in this way won’t matter if you don’t replace your sponges frequently. 

Over time, exposure to so many different kinds of food products in the process of decomposition means that many of the bacteria on those food products will work their way into the sponge. Most of the bacteria will die or fall away when you rinse your sponge with hot water and soap, but some of them will stay on and survive.

So how can you make your sponges safer and prevent the spread of dangerous bacteria?

Making Your Sponges Safer: Replace Often!

The first and most obvious way to make your kitchen sponges safer is to replace them.

But how often should you swap out your current kitchen sponge for a new one?

Experts state that kitchen sponges should be replaced with new ones every 1 to 2 weeks.

That sounds pretty extreme, right?  But remember the harmful bacteria we discussed before. Any of them could cause serious damage to your health and could very easily land you in the hospital.

Suddenly, buying a new packet of sponges every couple of months doesn’t sound so bad, right?

By replacing the sponges you clean your dishes with, and even the ones you use to clean around your kitchen, you will greatly reduce the number of bacteria they (and by extension you) come into contact with.

Other Sponges Are At Risk

Do you use other sponges in the home? Maybe you keep one under your kitchen sink that you use for cleaning the sink and the surrounding counters? Do you use sponges to clean your bathroom, shower, and toilet?

Then those sponges are also at risk of contracting dangerous bacterial growth. 

Sponges are great at absorbing water, soap, and detergent, and their brittle-yet-tough texture is perfect for scrubbing away at a stubborn piece of gunk, and also at fitting into small spaces or tight angles. 

But a sponge’s porous and malleable structure is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. With so many tiny holes making up a sponge’s form, bacteria have thousands of entry points and, with the absorbing and malleable nature of a sponge, bacteria can spread and grow in any direction very easily. 

A sponge’s vulnerability to bacteria is especially dangerous when it comes to the sponges used in the bathroom. 

The gunk that grows in and around toilets and shower drains is teeming with all sorts of dangerous bacteria that, if left to grow unchecked in your bathroom sponges, could survive any detergent or bleach you might use on the sponge itself. If it gets particularly bad, touching a contaminated sponge teeming with bacteria, and then touching your face or mouth could provide that bacteria with the perfect entryway to your body.

So how can you combat this?

Making Your Sponges Safer: Get an Electric Spin Scrubber!

Electric spin scrubbers are a new and exciting innovation in the world of home cleaning. Simply put, they are gadgets with motors that spin circular sponge attachments at their heads.

Think of electric spin scrubbers as the bathroom cleaning equivalent to a weed whacker but, instead of using a spinning blade, they use a spinning sponge to clear away gunk in seconds!

This spinning and scrubbing power usually has different settings, from the gentleness you need to clean a pane of glass, to the raw strength you need to clear the grout between marble tiles. 

Dovety electric spin scrubber is a versatile, cost-efficient, and intelligently-designed cleaning gadget with interchangeable heads that include anything from sponges that you can use on your kitchen counters and bathroom and shower floors, to special sponges for washing the exterior of your car without scratching, and even special sponges used for cleaning fine leather seats inside cars without damaging them!

Dovety has a retractable handle too, meaning that you can clean comfortably while standing up, allowing you to reach behind your toilet and in the tightest corners of your shower, your kitchen counters, and even the walls and ceiling of your kitchen without ever having to kneel or crawl!

Get one here!


Sponges are valued allies  in the world of cleanliness, but they can also become vile traitors.

If the sponge near your kitchen sink is looking particularly worn out, this article is the perfect reason to buy a new one and replace it!

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