Is it better to disinfect kitchen sponges in the microwave or dishwasher?

Is it better to disinfect kitchen sponges in the microwave or dishwasher?
I don't recommend either. The inside of a sponge must reach boiling temperature (100 degrees Celsius) to kill any bacteria, and most dishwashers don't get hot enough to do the job. What's more, the drying cycle can't fully dry a sponge's insulating layers.

 

A microwave will work, but it's tricky. A study released this year from the University of Florida found that putting a soaking-wet sponge in a microwave on full power for two minutes kills 99 percent of the bugs hiding inside. Not all microwaves are created equal, however: Two minutes could be too short for a weak appliance or too much for a powerful one. Also, "soaking wet" can mean various things to various people—and if the sponge dries out too much, it can burst into flames.

 

Expert choice
The best option is to avoid sponges altogether and instead use a dishcloth. Then toss the used dishcloth into your laundry bin. Have enough dishcloths so that when you add them to kitchen towels, tablecloths, and napkins, you can make one load of kitchen laundry per week. (Use an energy-efficient washing machine.) A tablespoon of citrus solvent in the wash cycle will remove grease.

 

—Ellen Sandbeck, an organic landscaper in Duluth and author of Organic Housekeeping (Scribner, 2006)

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