How To Clean and Disinfect a Dish Brush

updated May 30, 2019
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(Image credit: Erika Tracy)

There’s an age-old argument about the best option for cleaning dishes: dish cloths, sponges, or dish brushes. My friend still defends her grandma’s crocheted cloths — you know the ones I’m talking about? — but dish brushes, hands-down, are the most hygienic option. Unlike dish cloths (basically petri dishes for bacteria) or even sponges, which have pockets where bacteria can grow, the synthetic bristles of dish brushes shed moisture so they don’t harbor bacteria or develop any offensive odors.

Plus, they’re easy to clean — here’s how.

If your dish brush doesn’t have a wooden handle and you have a dishwasher, the simplest solution is just to run the brush through the dishwasher. Put the dish brush on the top rack or silverware holder, bristle-end up, and run through a cycle with heated drying. Voilà! Clean and sanitized.

If, on the other hand, your dish brush does have a wooden handle or you don’t have a dishwasher, don’t worry — the alternative is nearly as simple. The trick is to soak your brush in distilled white vinegar and a drop of dish soap. An hour-long soak should be enough for the cleaning agents to do their work, although it’s a good idea to remove any noticeable food chunks beforehand.

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Remove food particles: Hold dish brush under warm running water to remove loose particles. (Image credit: Erika Tracy)

How To Clean and Disinfect a Dish Brush

What You Need

  • Fork (optional)
  • Large plastic cup or dishpan
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Clean dish towel


  1. Remove food particles: Hold dish brush under warm running water to remove loose particles.
  2. Make sure you get everything: Use a fork to dislodge any stubborn pieces if needed.
  3. Prepare the solution: Pour vinegar into a cup or dishpan, add a drop of dishwashing liquid, and put the dish brush, bristle-end down, into the solution. Give it a little swirl.
  4. Soak brush: Let the dish brush soak for one hour or longer. Then, rinse the brush thoroughly in warm water; shake off excess water.
  5. Let air-dry: Lay the brush flat on a clean dishtowel, or hang to dry.