Dish sponges: a container for bacteria, it is better to use this more hygienic alternative

The sponge we all use to wash dishes quickly turns into a real bowl of bacteria. This is confirmed by a new study conducted by a Norwegian research team and recently published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology

We identify right away that many of the bacteria on sponges are not harmful but that those present, like salmonella, if they do end up, can easily spread from sponges to hands, kitchen surfaces, and equipment, and end up in food, with risks so people get sick.

To say it’s a new study that examined kitchen sponges for 20 people living in Portugal and 35 brushes and 14 sponges for people living in Norway.

An earlier survey, conducted by the same research team of 9,966 people, found that sponges were the most commonly used item for cleaning kitchens and washing dishes in most of the 10 European countries sampled, while brushes were the most commonly used item. The tool is most used in only two countries: Norway and Denmark.

All sponges were used for washing dishes, pots, and pans, and 19 out of 20 Portuguese sponges were used five to six times a week or more. Of the brushes collected in Norway, 32 of the 35 were used five to six times a week or more.

No pathogenic (i.e. pathogenic) bacteria were found in the brush or sponge. However, the overall levels of bacteria in the brush were lower than in the sponge, and when the researchers added salmonella bacteria to both objects, they found a significant reduction in the number of salmonella in the brush that was left to dry overnight, while this was not the case for the sponge. , regardless of storage conditions.

Dishwashing Studio Bacteria Sponge

@ Journal of Applied Microbiology.

But Why is sponge contaminated with bacteria? This was explained by Trond Moretro, a researcher at Nofima, a Norwegian food research institute, and lead author of the study:

The sponge is damp and accumulates food debris that is also food for bacteria, which leads to the rapid growth of bacteria.

What surprised researchers most was the fact that it didn’t matter how people cleaned the sponge or how often. Bacteria continues to grow and it is very difficult for consumers to stop this growth unless the sponges are replaced daily.

In fact, the researchers had already experienced similar results, in fact, the new research is based on a lab study published last year by the same team that discovered how bacteria multiply more easily on sponges than on dishwashing brushes. Also read: To wash dishes, it is better to use a brush (not a sponge). I study

And here we come to the alternative that scientists consider cleaner.

Sponge alternative for dish washing

Norwegian researchers point out that a healthier alternative is to use kitchen brushes, which are actually the most hygienic way to wash dishes. As Professor Moretro said:

Salmonella and other bacteria grow and live in a sponge better than a brush, and the reason is that a sponge in daily use never dries out. A single sponge can harbor more bacteria than humans on Earth.

Unlike a sponge, a brush dries between uses and this property makes it less dangerous for bacteria to grow:

Since the brush dries very quickly, harmful bacteria die. In addition, most brushes have a handle that prevents direct hand contact with potentially harmful bacteria, unlike sponges. I recommend consumers to try the brush the next time they need to replace a sponge.

Regarding salmonella, the results of the study stated the following:

To prevent health risks in case of contamination with it salmonella On the tool, consumers should be advised to use brushes. Further research is recommended to investigate the role of consumer practices and, in particular, the role of brush cleaning procedures and brush life from a health point of view. In addition, studies with pathogens other than . can be expanded salmonella.

But there is a fundamental problem: consumers like to use sponges more and it will be difficult to change habits. Markus Ergert, a microbiologist at the University of Furtwangen in Germany who has done similar research, advises those who don’t want to stop using a sponge use a new sponge so often, and change it at least every two or three weeks.

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Source: Journal of Applied Microbiology

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