As former Lifehacker writer Nick Douglas once proclaimed: Every sponge is bad. He wasn’t wrong then, and he isn’t wrong now. But his passionate stance made me think more deeply about my kitchen sponge than I ever had before, and I came to a somewhat disturbing realisation. My sponge? Was basically always dirty.
Sure, I’d throw it in the dishwasher once in a while after it got especially greasy-looking or performed a task more shameful than usual. I’m not going to tell you how often “once in a while” was; it’s not healthy to dwell on one’s mistakes. But I decided it was time to figure out how to ensure my sponge made its way into the dishwasher with some regularity.
My problem was twofold:
1. Sometimes I’d still be using the sponge to finish hand-washing a pot or pan while I started running the dishwasher — a sponge cannot be in two places at once.
2. Even when I didn’t have an immediate need for the sponge, I didn’t think to put it in. A thing one does only a few times a month (I’m kidding, there’s no way I washed it that much) is not a habit. More often than not, it was only when I went to empty the dishwasher that I’d realise what I’d forgotten.
The solution, I ultimately concluded, was that a person does not need one sponge; a person needs two sponges working in tandem at all times.
If you want to always have a clean sponge, get up right now. Go put your dirty sponge in the dishwasher, even if it’s not ready to be run. Get out a fresh, clean sponge from your stash (if you don’t have a sponge stash, you’re in even worse shape than I was, so go get yourself some back-up sponges). Put the fresh clean sponge on your sink.
After you run the dishwasher tomorrow (with the heated dry setting on) — this is the important part — take the old but newly-cleaned sponge and swap it with the one you just pulled from your fresh stash. Is it very dirty? No! It’s new! You’ve only been using it for a day! But it’s got a day’s worth of food funk on it that the other sponge does not.
Every time I empty the dishwasher, which is basically once a day now that we eat every single meal in this house, I swap the sponges. You’re already emptying everything else, so you can’t miss it. It becomes an actual habit. And you get a fresh sponge once a day instead of every once in a while.
This article was originally published in September 2020.