11 Better-for-You Sponges for a More Sanitary Clean
They're eco-friendly, easy to clean, and don't take on odors like regular kitchen scrubbers do. Shop our selects, and you'll wish you made the swap sooner.
Sponges make quick work of everything from hand-washing dishes to cleaning countertops, but if you've always felt like there's just something kind of—well—gross about them, you're not alone. Many homeowners find the idea of using the same grubby sponge unappealing, and there's evidently a good reason why.
As it turns out, germ experts say the average kitchen sponge really is one of the dirtiest items in the home. According to a 2017 study published in the journal Scientific Reports, samples taken from kitchen sponges harbored 362 different kinds of bacteria in incredibly large quantities of up to 45 billion per square centimeter. If that's not enough to make you want to toss that grimy sponge, consider previous research that suggests your kitchen sponge is even dirtier than your toilet seat.
So, what should you do? To limit bacterial growth, thoroughly rinse and wring sponges out after use—and keep them in an open dish where air can circulate so that they dry thoroughly. And don't forget to replace them every two weeks.
Another solution: Adopt the growing trend of using better-for-you sponges in your own kitchen. Because these alternatives have fewer crevices and are made of quick-drying materials like silicon, bamboo, and bristles, they're less likely to facilitate bacteria growth. They're also easier to clean, since they're less porous, and many can even stand up to hot water cycles in your dishwasher or washing machine for more thorough and regular cleaning. Many of the products we chose are made from environmentally friendly materials, which means they're better for the planet as much as they are for your home. Sold on making the swap? Consider these options in the market.
Here's a flexible and durable food-grade silicone sponge with soft bristles to gently scrub dishes (even nonstick pots and pans!) and surfaces without scratching. It's heat-resistant up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, so you can dip it in boiling water or toss it in your dishwasher to give it a thorough clean.
Shop Now: Kuhn Rikon Silicone Scrubber, $6, williams-sonoma.com.
A double-sided sponge with a high-tech microfiber cloth on one side for a soft, lint-free clean; a scrubber to cut through grease and baked on messes on the other. To clean it, simply toss it in the washing machine on a hot cycle once a week.
Shop Now: Public Goods Walnut Scrubber Sponge, $3, publicgoods.com.
When you think metal, you think tough, and these copper sponges are certainly that—they're able to remove that won't-come-off grease and food residue from nearly any surface. The surprise is that they've also got a very gentle touch: You can scrub and scrub and scrub and their copper wires will leave nary a scratch.
Shop Now: Andrée Jardin Copper Sponge, $30 for 3, food52.com.
These sponges are designed from sustainable fibers—wood pulp, cotton, and hemp. Use the scrubby side, which is coated with special fibers, for tougher caked-on spots; use the soft side to gently wipe away food and grime.
Shop Now: Barkly Basics Black & White Scourer Sponge, $6, anthropologie.com.
Here's another two-sided sponge, which delivers double the cleaning power and a proprietary technology that makes it possible to sanitize without harsh chemicals. Unlike most sponges which are made from plant cellulose, these are made with a fast-drying polyurethane foam and treated with an antimicrobial agent that discourages the growth of odor-causing bacteria.
Shop Now: Skura Style Antimicrobial Sponge, $15 for 4, store.177milkstreet.com.
This tough-as-nails silicone sponge is antimicrobial and infused with peach fragrance to keep odors at bay and infuse your cleaning routine with a fresh scent, sans harmful chemical alternatives.
Shop Now: Peachy Clean Silicone Dish Scrubber, $7, bedbathandbeyond.com.
These natural and biodegradable sponges are made from pure loofah plants are tough enough to tackle grease, but soft enough to use on gentle materials like nonstick pots and pans. Each one has a drying rope for easy and complete drying between uses.
Shop Now: Grove Collaborative Coconut Scouring Pad, $5 for 2, grove.co.
Though technically a vegetable scrubber, this Japanese brush is much more versatile—use it to scour pots and pans, wash dinnerware, or even scrub your stovetop.
Shop Now: Kamenoko Tawashi Cleaning Brush, $7.50, jinenstore.com.
Full Circle Wool
Sheep wool sponges like these from Full Circle provide maximum scrubbing powder. Wash these anti-microbial and anti-fungal options by hand with warm water and dish soap after each use and compost them when they're past the point of no return.
Shop Now: Full Circle Wool Sponges, $12, housework.store.
For hard-to-clean items like reusable water bottles, baby bottles, and bud vases, try this silicone brush. It has a long-reach handle and soft, flexible bristles to scrub narrow nooks and crannies. To clean, toss it in the dishwasher—it's heat-resistant up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Shop Now: Kitchiny Silicone Bottle Brush, $9, greencitizen.com.
Like a cross between a kitchen rag and a sponge, this highly absorbent cloth is suitable for a wide-range of cleaning tasks, including washing dishes, cleaning countertops, and even scrubbing the bathroom. Plus, each one is made from a pretty printed fabric you won't mind looking at every day.
Shop Now: Ekobo Claro Compostable Sponge Blocks, $10.40 for 2, finnishdesignshop.com.