Have you ever had the pleasure of owning a sea sponge? They have a long and useful history; sea sponges were used by ancient Greece competitors to bathe themselves before battle. Servants during that time period used them to clean tables after meals. When we think of sponges today, the good old kitchen sponge comes to mind. Before the dishwasher became a common fixture in many homes, the kitchen sponge was our main ally against greasy pots and pans.
Their exquisite softness and smooth rich lather they produce soothes the senses. Doing dishes by hand gives me a chance to experience a blissful mindfulness. The warm water, soft sponge and rich lather offer a soothing massage for my hands.
As helpful as they are, we often realize that our sponge is falling apart in the face of all the scrubbing that it has been subjected to. When this happens, I’m forced to consider what are the best kitchen sponges out there, and what makes them great.
How sponges are made
In today’s world sponges are less often harvested from the sea and more are manufactured by us. The main ingredients are cellulose derived from wood pulp, sodium sulphate, and hemp fiber (Made how). The three ingredients are mixed with chemical softeners to produce what is essentially a very large stiff sponge.
The Sodium sulfate melts with the high temperatures; as it does it drains out of the sponge leaving behind the familiar pores. The hardened sponge is then washed many times in water, resulting in the soft texture we all know.
Which kitchen sponges are the best?
Many sponges are made out of oil-based plastics, which become a real problem when they make it to the landfill since they are not biodegradable (mnn). This means they don’t breakdown easily. The average time for plastics to biodegrade is 450 years – depending on the type of plastic, some can take as long as a thousand years.
For the welfare of our planet, a better alternative are sponges made from a 100% cellullose. They are made from wood fibers and thus biodegrade easily.
Due to the fact that sponges have a relatively short life-span, they are often discarded before their full potential is reached. The best kitchen sponges on the market are: Kitchen sponge scratch free, Scotch-Brite Non-Scratch Scrub Sponge, and the Scotch-Brite Heavy Duty Dish Wand Sponge For Kitchen Sink Cleaning Brush (Best Reviews Guide).
These sponges are considered the best for handling tough jobs; hence the phrase “Heavy Duty.” A main reason why we do away with even the best kitchen sponges is the moldy smell that comes from the bacteria who love to call them home.
What lurks inside
Kitchen sponge bacteria can come from many sources. A common origin for germs are meat juices. They should always be handled with a paper towel. The common kitchen sponge contains billions of bacteria, but most are harmless (NPR). If you take reasonable measures to ensure your sponge is not harboring harmful microbes, you can make sure yours is the best kitchen sponge.
What I do to minimize the risk is I make sure my hands are clean before doing the dishes – I wash them if need be. It’s a simple and powerful thing I do to make sure I’m not transferring the germs from my hands into my sponge. I also sanitize my sink and counter tops after handling meat, and every morning before I do anything in the kitchen.
We can’t totally eliminate harmful bacteria from our lives – the goal should be to limit the amount of exposure.
The best ways to clean your Kitchen sponge
A very effective way to disinfect your kitchen sponge is to use the handy microwave – put the timer for a minute; once the timer has expired, make sure the sponge has cooled down before you pick it up. Your dishwasher is the second best option – set the water temperature to hot. Vinegar is the third best option; simply submerge the sponge in full strength vinegar containing 6% acetic acid, for five minutes before rinsing.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This old and wise advice is what I think of daily in order to keep my home as safe as possible. When I step into the kitchen I make sure my hands have been washed before I do any dishes, touch any clean plates, or handle food. I won’t even let my cat jump on the kitchen counter – I love her, just not the little critters under her paws.
What if you prefer something directly from nature. A sponge that won’t create the familiar smell that we have come to associate with our artificial sponges.
Sea Sponges for the Kitchen
Sea sponges are excellent for washing dishes; they are superior to synthetic sponges due to their natural resistance to bacterial growth. They are biodegradable and due to their natural softness, can effectively fit into glassware more efficiently than artificial sponges.
The type of sponge we use will depend on what the purpose is; if it’s a heavy job, then we’re going to need a sponge with a good strong scrubbing pad. If on the other hand the job we have in mind is delicate then we’re going to want the more gentle approach of a soft sponge without a scrubbing pad.
And the best is..
Sponges have been an important human tool for cleaning our homes and ourselves since ancient Greece. As we began to manufacture synthetic sponges, the need for sea sponges decreased. The convenience of manufacturing sponges, replaced the natural softness and earth friendly quality of the sea sponge.
There are necessary steps to be taken in order to keep your sponges as bacteria-free as possible. Your microwave, for one minute, is the best option; followed by your dishwasher set to hot.
If these two options are not available to you, submerge the sponge in full strength vinegar for five minutes.
I also wash my hands before I touch any of my sponges, or basically do any type of work in the kitchen.
The sea sponge is the best kitchen sponge – it’s a completely natural product, which means it’s gentler on our home planet. It naturally resists the growth of bacteria as well; this means a decreased risk of becoming sick from foodborne illnesses. And of course, you won’t be dealing with that moldy smell.
The toughest jobs are not for the sea sponge, as it has no scrubbing pad; however, for every thing else it’s the best kitchen sponge out there.
What is your favorite sponge for the kitchen, bath or any other job around the house? Have you made the natural sea sponge part of your home? Please leave a comment below.
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