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Actually, Kitchen Sponges Are Really Gross When You Think About It

Might you be interested in a more hygienic alternative?

If you were to rank all of the germ-covered things in your home by bacteria per square inch, it wouldn’t take long until you got to the old, ratty blob of cellulose otherwise known as your kitchen sponge. 

This stance may seem confusing given the fact that, not too long ago, we rolled up our sleeves to figure out what makes a good kitchen sponge (a long shelf life, minimal shedding, and a flexible, versatile body, if you were wondering). However, none of that changes the bottom line: The stuff you clean your dishes with gets very nasty, very quickly. 

Don’t just take it from me. Take it from microbiologist Markus Egert and his team of scientists at the University of Furtwangen in Germany. Their 2017 study published in Scientific Reports revealed 362 different species of bacteria lurking in the nooks and crannies of the household sponges they’d collected. “There are probably no other places on earth with such high bacterial densities,” Egert wrote, before explaining that this kind of bacteria density is on par with what you might find in a human stool sample.

Bon appetit!

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Now, what I am proposing is not a full germ-induced meltdown, because the world is filled with all sorts of unavoidable bacteria. Instead, I’m calling for an orderly switch to the kitchen brush. That’s right: The quick-drying, eco-friendly, easy-to-use, and, ultimately, far more hygienic cleaning tool of choice for your dinnerware. 

While there are plenty of sanitary measures we can all take to see that our household sponge does not become a horror show, the reality is there is just too much unnecessary upkeep required. Who has time to thoroughly wash their sponge after every single use or, worse, restock at the grocery store every single week? Not us brush toters. 

A brush, unlike the highly absorbent sponge (which becomes a bacteria hotbed when dampened), responds well to a simple cleaning with hot water and detergent every few days. If you’re going to be using the brush daily, soaking the bristles in distilled white vinegar for a couple of hours once a week is highly recommended. Or, you can toss it in the dishwasher if that’s something you own. (Congrats!)

Another thing brushes have on sponges? A handle. That means your hands never have to come in contact with your water supply and you can crank that scalding heat for maximum cleanliness whenever you please. 

With all that in mind, we’ve rounded up three Journal-approved brushes to scrub away your former germ-y days in the kitchen.

Kitchen Sponge Alternatives Vigar

A Brush With Clean, Au Naturel Vibes

The one big flaw of dish brushes: loose and shedding bristles. You certainly won’t find those with the Vigar, which stays perfectly intact for months on end. The classy bamboo detailing makes it an item you won’t feel sloppy leaving out on the counter, and the long handle provides a great deal of control while scrubbing off stubborn residue.

Vigar Bamboo Print Dish Brush, $5 at Bed Bath & Beyond
BUY IT HERE

Kitchen Sponge Alternatives Oxo

A Brush That’s Also a Soap Dispenser 

Looking to clear some countertop space? This product does it all (and by that I mean two things): scrubs and dispenses. The soap, stored in the body, gets released with a light push of a button on top. And, might I add, its contoured shape is excellent for a good, powerful grip. Beat it, soap bottles. 

Oxo Soap Dispensing Palm Brush, $6 at Amazon 
BUY IT HERE

Kitchen Sponge Alternatives Full Circle

A Brush That’ll Look Ace On Your Kitchen Counter

Now, if you’re really looking to lean into this dish brush thing, get yourself one with a nice ceramic tray. For extra credit: See that the ceramic tray has a “spring-platform construction” inside that creates a nice foam when you dip your brush into it with a little soap and water. It’s all here in the Full Circle.

Full Circle Ceramic Soap Dispenser & Bamboo Dish Brush, $13 at Amazon
BUY IT HERE

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Every product covered here is independently selected by opinionated humans. But so you know, buying stuff through our links may earn us a small share of the sale or other compensation.

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