Unilever logo
Cleanipedia AE logo

How to Clean Dishcloths & Sponges: Ensuring Cleaning Tools are Safe

Even cleaning tools themselves need to be cleaned from time to time! Read on to find out effective ways to clean your sponges and cleaning cloths.


how to clean dishcloths

Keeping your cleaning tools hygienic and safe is just as important as any cleaning task around the house – after all, a dish or a surface is only as clean as the cloth you wipe it with! Whether you use a microfibre cleaning cloth or a basic sponge, you need to wash and sanitise your cleaning materials regularly. Never fear – this particular job is quick and easy with the right method. Here are some of the best ways to stop your cleaning equipment from becoming magnets for germs.

Dishcloths should be washed regularly with laundry detergents like OMO. Just read the fabric care label and the instructions on the product before washing.

How to Sanitise Your Cleaning Cloths

A cleaning cloth should be rinsed and hung or laid out flat after every use to avoid the warm, damp surface becoming a breeding ground for microbes. You should also regularly sanitise cleaning cloths using the washing machine:

  1. Pre-soak stained or really dirty cleaning cloths in a bucket containing a couple of capfuls of household bleach. If your cloths aren’t completely filthy, skip to step 2.

  2. Rinse the cloths thoroughly with water.

  3. Place them on a hot cycle in the washing machine.

  4. Hang to dry outside if you can. This method is suitable for microfibre cloths as well.

How to Sanitise Your Sponges

For the best results, clean your sponges a few times a week; otherwise you’ll have an increased risk of bacteria growth, not to mention a bad odour around the sink. There are three effective ways to do this:

  • Place your sponge in with a normal cycle on your dishwasher if you have one, as the hot temperatures will kill any germs.

  • Wash the sponge in the sink with some very hot water and anti-bacterial detergent, working it into the sponge with your hands and then rinsing. Follow with a soak in a very weak solution of bleach and water (a gallon hot water and a tablespoon of bleach) and leave to soak for an hour. Then rinse.

  • Place a wet sponge in the microwave and zap it on a high setting for two minutes. Make sure there are not any fragments of metal embedded in the sponge, and use caution with this method, as the sponge could burn if it’s not properly dampened. Also take care when removing the sponge, as it will be very hot. This is a popular solution, as it is quick and effective.

General Tips on Looking After Cleaning Tools

  • If you’re waiting to wash a load of cleaning cloths, store them in a plastic container with a lid, so that they don’t cause the kitchen to smell.

  • Dishwashing brushes are generally considered the most hygienic option for cleaning dishes, as they are easier to rinse as you go, and dry off quite quickly. These should still be sanitised frequently by soaking in a weak bleach solution.

  • If you’re using a microfibre cloth, consider cleaning it after every use to get the best results.

  • The main thing to remember is to squeeze as much water as you can from all your cleaning tools and allow them space to dry properly – warmth and damp make a haven for bacteria.

Cloths or Sponges: Which are Safest?

Every person has his or her preference and opinion about which cleaning tools are best for certain household jobs. Some prefer sponges for doing dishes, while others always use cloths for wiping down kitchen counters.

In terms of cleanliness, there’s not really much difference between a sponge and a dishcloth – they can both harbour germs if not cleaned regularly. So you know what to do, make sure you keep them as clean as possible!

Sanitising cloths and sponges is simple and quick once you know how, and an essential aspect of keeping a clean, hygienic home. With these tips, you should be able to tackle the task in minutes.

  • You can zap a wet sponge clean in no time using the microwave.

  • Use bleach to clean really dirty sponges or cloths.

  • Remember to squeeze out as much water as possible from your cleaning tools and allow them to dry properly.

Originally published