Did you know that your kitchen is the dirtiest room in your house and your sponge is the dirtiest thing in your kitchen? You may not want to hear this BUT the typical sponge is teeming with bad microbes including fecal bacteria, E. coli, salmonella and many others that can make you and the rest of your family really sick! Yuk!

And in our quest to keep things spic and span, we accidentally spread it around and add cross-contamination to the mix when we wipe the counter tops, fridge and other appliances with that nasty thing. This might help explain why half of all food-borne illnesses are caught at home.

But … there’s an easy fix for this unsettling fact of life! Just pop that sponge in the dishwasher and let it go through a wash cycle, or dip it into a solution made from a little bleach mixed with water before you start wiping down any surfaces. Another remedy is to stick it in a small bowl with a little water and microwave it for a minute once a week. ZAP! No more bad bacteria.

Then again, you might just want to toss it into the garbage can after about a month and start off with a fresh one. After all, sponges are cheap and  plentiful. One less thing to stress over.

If you happen to be one of those who find germs fascinating, take a look at a book called The Secret Life of Germs by a really smart guy named Phillip Tierno, PhD, director of clinical microbiology and diagnostic immunology at the New York University Langone Medical Center. He’s got lots of interesting facts and information about which germs are bad and can make you sick, and which ones actually help our immune systems to bulk up, get strong, and keep us well.

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Ellen and Rachel are two old friends and “expert” mamas—one a pediatrician and one a family therapist—with fifty years of parenting experience between them.

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The Mama ButtonThe information provided by MamasOnCall is not intended as a substitute for professional advice, but is for information purposes only. You assume full responsibility for the health and well-being of your family. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical or psychiatric condition.