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9:59 PM Fri, Sept. 21st

Around the Bluhmin' Town: Step away from the dangerous kitchen sponge

Throw out your kitchen sponge immediately! Do not use it to wipe (spreading germs) the counters, or clean your pots and pans, and if you touch it, be sure to use rubber gloves.

In other words, we are all going to end up sick and in the hospital with a God-knows-what kind of infection if we keep using our nasty, filthy, disgusting sponges.

Yes, the latest research is out, and it is causing many a cook to scream in horror at what is lurking in that little, evil sponge that is resting on the kitchen sink. Do not be fooled, Dear Readers, by the nifty green or blue color or innocent packaging of the greatest health hazard that faces mankind. We are washing our dishes with a bacteria-laden item that is 200,000 times dirtier than the average toilet seat! And if that’s not bad enough, people are wiping their cutting boards, dish drainers, stove-tops, sinks, dishes and refrigerator shelves with the terrible sponge.

A new study conducted at the University of Arizona has found there are about 10 million bacteria per square inch of a kitchen sponge and a million per square inch on a dishcloth. Yikes, no wonder I feel like I am coming down with the flu! Oh, and those folks who like to “sanitize” their sponges by putting them in hot water and then in the microwave ... well it doesn’t work! Trying to clean up a dirty sponge only makes the bacteria more “resistant” and stronger (unless you soak it in bleach).

In other words, we are expected to throw out our sponges as quick as we can. Bust the budget and go stock up on 100 sponges and every few days toss one. Better to be safe than sorry. I have to admit I have been too casual when it comes to “sponge safety.” The other day, my husband, Doug, pointed out that I left a damp sponge sitting in the middle of the cutting board! Yuck!

One day I was out at a breakfast meeting at a local restaurant and witnessed a waitress cleaning a booth. She grabbed a wet rag and wiped the seats of the booth, then the top of the table, then went on to spread germs on about three more empty booths with the same routine.

Suddenly, I lost my appetite. Am I becoming a germaphobe? But then I recalled growing up in my mother’s kitchen, and seeing the same old dish rag hanging over the faucet that wiped down every counter and dish! My mother was very clean, but I suspect that dishrag was not. Yet, I am still alive.

My friend, a physician, says germs are all around us, so we shouldn’t worry about a stupid sponge. Of course we should worry! They are a health hazard! My grandson says he hasn’t changed out his sponge in a year (gross). My husband thinks I am trying to kill him by leaving one on a cutting board (not true). And I will never look at my sponge the same way again. I want to banish the vile object completely from my kitchen, but I am not sure what to replace it with. Any ideas? I’ll soak up your suggestions.

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local Realtor. Have a comment or a story? Email Judy at judy@judybluhm.com.