Sun 28 Jan, 2007 11:44 am
Nuke those sponges!
By Susan Brink, Times Staff Writer
January 29, 2007
MOST people, confronting a sponge soaked in a disgusting brew of raw sewage containing fecal bacteria, viruses, protozoan parasites and bacterial spores, would shriek, "Yuck!"
Not so researchers at the University of Florida. They deliberately created the stinking concoction to answer a question: What's the best way to decontaminate the filthy, pathogen-infested kitchen sponge, to be found in even the most sparkling, granite-countered kitchen?
Their finding: Zap the sponges in a microwave.
Study author and environmental engineering professor Gabriel Bitton said he'd long used the sponge-zapping method. "I decided I was really going to test it scientifically."
His team found it took two minutes in a regular, off-the-shelf microwave to knock out more than 99% of the bacteria on filthy, wet sponges.
Common pathogens such as E. coli and salmonella cause at least 6 million cases of U.S. food-borne illnesses annually. The bugs survive well in damp sponges and cloths. Microwaving sponges and scrubbers about every other day for two minutes at full power will decontaminate them more effectively than putting them through a dishwasher cycle and greatly reduces the danger of food-borne illnesses, the researchers say. The item has to be completely wet and should not contain metal. And be careful when you remove the items. They'll be very hot.
Whatever you do, make sure the sponges are wet when you nuke them. Otherwise you'll have a big ole stinky mess in your kitchen/house, and perhaps a dead nuker.
Decades ago, when Mary Kay cosmetics were all the rage, the Mary Kay consultants used to nuke wet washcloths to steam clean the guests faces. Worked well - also a quick way to get a hot compress on your forehead when your sinuses have backed up.
Make sure the sponge is wet when you microwave it. Some people have had them catch fire when they put them in dry.
That advice (Get them wet) cannot be overly stressed.
Yeh, google news has been interesting on this, this last week, in that first the Nuke em news showed up, and then several articles on Watch Out, fire!
So that the articles would go in the same column with vying points of view...
Regarding the potential danger - why not buy a new sponge instead?
(At least that's what recommended here: sponges costs just a couple of cents, but fire in the microwave can be more expensive.)
If you wrap the wet sponge in a paper towel, they'll be even safer. I wonder if that would diminish the effectiveness of the nuke-cleaning.
Buy a new sponge every other day for 5 years and see which is most cost effective. Not to mention environmentally friendly.
I think putting the sponge in a microwave-safe dish and adding a little water would eliminate the fire hazard.