Is it time to give dish sponges the brush-off? Kitchen wipers could be riddled with salmonella and campylobacter, research suggests
- Researchers put salmonella and campylobacter bacteria on different surfaces
- Salmonella lasted seven days and campylobacter survived on a sponge for a day
- It found 12 per cent of UK hung sponges up but two-thirds kept them by the sink
If you normally use a sponge to wash the dishes and leave it by the sink to dry – then it might be time to come clean.
A sponge harbours potentially harmful bacteria for twice as long as a dish-washing brush, a study has found.
Even after squeezing it out, it is still a moist environment where germs can thrive.
Brushes, thought to be used by only 29 per cent of Britons, dry more quickly so bacteria on them die faster.
Researchers put salmonella and campylobacter bacteria on different surfaces.
Salmonella lasted seven days on two out of three sponge types, but died within three days on a brush hung up to dry.
If you normally use a sponge to wash the dishes and leave it by the sink to dry – then it might be time to come clean (stock image)
Campylobacter survived on a sponge for a day but disappeared from a brush. The study looked at the dish-washing habits of almost 10,000 people in Europe.
It found 12 per cent of Britons hung sponges up but two-thirds kept them by the sink.
The study by the Norwegian Institute of Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture Research was in the International Journal of Food Microbiology.
Lead author Dr Trond Moretro said: ‘You will not smell the harmful bacteria that are present in lower numbers, thus it is not safe to change sponges only when they smell bad.’
In Scandinavia, brushes are the dish-washing implement of choice, but only 29 per cent of people in the UK are believed to use them.
The study found found 42 per cent of people in the UK change their kitchen sponges only when they look dirty, with 28 per cent doing so when they started to smell bad or became ‘slimy’.
A sponge harbours potentially harmful bacteria for twice as long as a dish-washing brush, a study has found (stock image)
Sponges were found to absorb up to 36 times the amount of water brushes did.
One of the sponges tested in the study remained wet for longer than 24 hours, with brushes typically drying after four-and-a-half hours.
This matters because bacteria thrive in damp conditions, the study authors explain, and can multiply using food residues on sponges as fuel.
Researchers found contaminated sponges and brushes could be cleaned adequately by boiling them or placing them in a dishwasher.
Dr Moretro added: ‘Perhaps British people may want to be a bit more like Norwegians and try using brushes instead of sponges and cloths.
‘When it comes to avoiding getting bacteria on their sponges, it is advisable to use a paper towel or disposable wipe to clean chopping boards used for raw meat before putting them in the sink to wash up.’
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