If you use a sponge to wash dishes, this info might make you shudder: there's likely more bacteria hiding in your sponge than in your toilet.
In fact, that sponge is probably the filthiest thing in your whole house, according to a new study published in Scientific Reports.
Researchers analyzed samples from 14 different used sponges and found 362 different types of bacteria, including some with "pathogenic potential" – aka the stuff that can cause disease in humans.
“Despite common misconception,” the study says, “it was demonstrated that kitchen environments host more microbes than toilets.”
And there's no good way to clean them
If you're thinking, "My sponge isn't dirty because I boil it/microwave it/run it through the dishwasher" – sorry, but that's just a waste of time. Researchers say most sanitation methods are not really helping much, and might even increase the amount of bacteria.
Microwave and boiling treatments reduced a good amount of the bacterial load when tested in the lab, the study says.
But when it came to the study, the sponges that homeowners had cleaned regularly didn't have fewer microbes than the ones that weren't cleaned at all. Plus, the cleaned sponges actually tended to have more of the disease-causing bacteria.
So basically, it's unlikely you'd be able to clean a sponge as efficiently as a scientist in a clean, controlled lab. And even if you do, researchers say no method alone could reduce bacteria by more than about 60 percent.
So what are you supposed to do? If you use sponges, researchers recommend replacing them on a weekly basis.
You can read the full study here.