How to clean dishcloths and sponges: making sure your cleaning tools are safe

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

Updated 9 June 2022


AuthorBy Cleanipedia Team

Reading Time5 minutes

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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! 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.

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.

Cleaning dishcloths

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. 1

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

  2. 2

    Rinse the cloths thoroughly with water.

  3. 3

    Place them on a hot cycle in the washing machine.

  4. 4

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

For more of an idea of how to clean your dishcloths and sponges, watch this short video:

Cleaning a kitchen sponge

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 of 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. Take care when removing the sponge, as it will be very hot.

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

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