After just two or three uses, your kitchen sponge is a hotbed of bacterial activity. "The Wall Street Journal" reports that a kitchen sponge can be 200,000 times dirtier than a toilet seat, boasting 10 million bacteria per square inch.
Replace your kitchen sponge two to four times a month. If your sponge starts to produce an odor or feels slimy, dispose of it immediately -- even if it's only been used for a few days.
Caring for Your Sponge
Your sponge lasts one to two weeks as long as you take care to clean it daily. A study published in a 2002 issue of the "Journal of Food Protection" found that antibacterial dish washing liquids are ineffective in reducing the bacterial content in used sponges.
The US. Department of Agriculture found that microwaving a damp sponge for one minute or running a sponge through the dishwashereffectively eradicates 99 percent of bacteria, yeast and molds during the drying cycle.
You can also soak your sponge in a quart of warm water mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of bleach for a minute or two.
Always wring out your sponge after use -- a wet sponge develops bacteria more readily. Avoid using the sponge to wipe up meat or poultry juice or to clean counter tops; you'll spread harmful bacteria around the kitchen and increase your risk of introducing bacteria into your food.