Everyone Needs Two Sponges in Rotation at All Times (and This Silly Sponge Holder!)

updated Jan 22, 2021
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Let’s face it: After a week or two of use, your kitchen sponge has lived a full life. It’s done some dirty things. It’s had many epic adventures. It has seen things it can’t unsee. Even if you use a dishwasher to clean the majority of your daily pots, pans, and plates, you’ll still likely scrub a few items by hand. And with each passing day, that sponge gets more and more suspicious. 

In 2017, a team of scientists published a study on just how dirty your sponges really are. Spoiler alert: They nasty. Apparently the study showed 362 different species of bacteria on the sponges’ surfaces. That is a lot of bacteria. Home cooks freaked out. Food media outlets had a field day

The jury’s still out on the best way to clean sponges. Some folks swear by nuking it; others claim that the hot environment created by microwaves actually encourages bacteria. But frankly? Heating up a soapy, scum-ridden sponge in the same vehicle that revives your forgotten cup of coffee seems … odd. Most experts agree that replacing the sponge regularly (I’m talking weekly, people) is the best way to keep bacteria from spreading across your flatware, glassware, plates, and kitchen surfaces.

Here’s my sponge system that’s been working for me.

A 2-Sponge System That’s Worth Stealing

Halfway through the week, I swap out my sponges. 

The dishwashing sponge becomes a surface-cleaning sponge, and the surface-cleaning sponge goes in the trash. Done and done. This keeps me on track with the suggested weekly refresh, but stops me short of obsessively cleaning a $1.99 disposable cleaning tool. 

While the sponge is fresh and straight out of its packaging, it gets put to work washing my dishes. But after a few days, once it looks a bit disheveled, I relegate it to the dirtier jobs: Scrubbing my stainless steel sink with Bon Ami cleaner, and wiping down the countertops with my favorite Mrs. Meyer’s scents

The hero of my system is this bizarre/hilarious sponge holder

There’s a top rack marked “Good” for your dishwashing sponge, and a bottom rack labeled “Evil.” We all know which sponge lives there. This is not rocket science: The idea behind the design is that any surface bacteria that drips from the Evil sponge won’t contaminate the Good sponge. The holder itself is simple, made from brushed stainless steel. But honestly? At just $10 a pop, I wasn’t expecting a feat of engineering. 

I’ll fully admit that the science behind sponge cycling is dubious at best. If you’re genuinely worried about bacterial growth on your sponges, you should probably just replace yours every evening, or invest in reusable dishcloths, and wash them after a day’s use. But I’ve been using my two-sponge system for years, and I’m still kicking.

Here’s the real reason I love and stand by this silly product: The design of the holder makes me genuinely laugh out loud when I see it. Can your sink setup do that?