Most things you find in a kitchen that are capable of "going bad" come with an expiration date, like yogurt. But sponges, which can harbor more (harmful) bacteria than a chunk of blue cheese, often fly under the radar for weeks on end, well past the point of "Is it time to throw this thing out?"
A good rule of thumb is to replace sponges once a week, but that can be tedious and expensive. There are also tricks for extending the shelf life of your trusty sponge, like nuking it in the microwave, but The New York Times argues that according to a recent survey this might actually be making the sponge worse. Luckily, we have an easy and cost-effective solution.
Cut the corners of your sponge once a week to track how long and where you've used it.
First, open a new sponge and use it to clean dishes (and only dishes) for one to two weeks. Once the sponge starts to get gross, snip off a corner and soak the sponge in a diluted solution of warm water and bleach for five to 10 minutes. Now, the sponge is ready to move from dish cleaning to kitchen counter surfaces. Once another week has passed, snip off a second corner of the sponge, give it the water-and-bleach treatment again, and your secondhand sponge is ready to be used for bathroom-cleaning duties. Get one more week out of your sponge as you wipe down bathroom sink and the shower then toss it.
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