A recent study published in the journal Nature Chemical Biology shows that sponges are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, so much so that microbiologists consider using them as a potential bacteria-growing medium.
But why is this so?
The answer is — the sponge’s structure that enables different bacteria to develop and co-exist more comfortably.
The porous structure and openings of various sizes act as compartments where various bacteria can live and create local communities without bothering each other, making them a bacteria paradise.
For this reason, the bacterial biodiversity found in sponges is even superior to that in liquid mediums scientists create for the purpose of bacteria breeding.
Does this mean you should reconsider using a kitchen sponge?
Obviously, food scraps and a humid environment play a critical role in bacteria thriving here.
Scientific evidence shows that a kitchen sponge has a bewildering density of bacteria — a staggering 54 billion bacteria per cubic centimeter. Furthermore, the researchers identified as many as 362 different species-like groups of bacteria (OTUs) in there.
Luckily, not all bacterial strains identified were harmful to human health.
Still, the kitchen sponge deserves a place on the list of the most germ-infested kitchen items that most of us forget to clean. And, even if you do microwave it or occasionally clean it in the dishwasher, there’s no guarantee of complete bacteria removal.
Additionally, though most bacteria found on the kitchen sponge are harmless, they still have the potential to harbor dangerous microbes like Salmonella if exposed to them.
This is why experts recommend ditching kitchen sponges altogether and replacing them with a dish brush or other more hygienic cleaning tools.