What common household item has around 362 different species of bacteria residing inside it? You’ve probably already guessed from the title it’s your average, everyday kitchen sponge, but did you know killing those little critters takes more than a few minutes in a microwave, as per some of the latest “kitchen hacks” advice?

It seems that nuking (microwaving) used sponges does kill some of the bacteria, but not the worst ones, according to a study published in Scientific Reports and titled “Microbiome analysis and confocal microscopy of used kitchen sponges reveal massive colonization.”1The study explains something previous research has missed; namely, that a used kitchen sponge generally carries not just a lot of germs, but a lot of different species of germs. As The New York Times asserts:

“It may nuke the weak ones, but the strongest, smelliest and potentially pathogenic bacteria will survive. Then, they will reproduce and occupy the vacant real estate of the dead. And your sponge will just be stinkier and nastier and you may come to regret having not just tossed it.”2

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