How to Sanitize Sponges and Scrub Brushes

Soak them in vinegar, and boom, they’re clean

Person rinsing sponge under kitchen faucet

Laurence Mouton / Getty Images

Those kitchen and bathroom sponges and scrub brushes that you use for cleaning need sanitizing themselves. While they certainly make your home sparkle and shine, they are one of the most common items in your home that harbor the most germs and bacteria. Learning how to keep them clean and bacteria-free will not only stop the spread of unwanted germs but will also increase their lifespan. Here are some safe and easy ways to sanitize them so your main cleaning items stay fresh.

Sanitize With Vinegar

The first method you can use to sanitize your sponges and scrub brushes is very simple and easy to do. All you need is a little bit of white vinegar.

Materials Needed

Instructions

  1. Submerge your sponges and brushes in a container filled with white vinegar.
  2. Soak your sponges and scrub brushes overnight. 
  3. Squeeze them out in the morning, and they'll be refreshed and ready for use.

Why This Works

The acetic acid in vinegar kills bacteria and eliminates odors.

Benefits

  • Easy
  • Extends the life of your sponges and scrub brushes
  • Reduces the spread of bacteria in your house
  • Much safer than the much-touted method of heating sponges and scrub brushes in the microwave (if the sponges aren't wet enough or the scrub brushes contain wooden or metal parts, they could cause a fire)
  • No harsh chemicals

Tips

  • Keep vinegar out of the reach of children and pets. It isn't toxic, but it tastes pretty bad.
  • Pour the used vinegar down the drain, and it will help to sanitize that, too.

Sanitizing With the Dishwasher

If you don't have any vinegar on hand, you can also sanitize sponges and scrub brushes in the dishwasher. Just ring them out well and load them on the top rack. The combination of the heat and the dishwasher detergent eliminates bacteria and odors. This method is easy enough to do nightly. Just get in the habit of tossing your sponges/scrubbers in the dishwasher whenever you're about to run a load, and you'll always have clean sponges and scrub brushes on hand.

Replacing Your Sponges and Scrubbers

Depending on how much you use it, a sponge or scrubber should be replaced anywhere from every two weeks to two months. Two weeks can seem excessive, so it's important to keep your sponges sanitized. If you stay on top of sanitizing your sponges you should be able to keep them until they wear out. Another way to eliminate having to change a sponge is to have a different one for each task. Having a separate sponge for your dishes, counters, bathrooms, etc. can help stop the spread of bacteria and increase the lifespan of your sponge or scrubber.

Spend Less on Scrubbers

Those mesh bags that produce comes in work really well as scrubbers. Just scrunch one up in your hand and use it to scrub pans or anything else that needs a bit of elbow grease. It's soft enough that you don't have to worry about it scratching surfaces. Toss these free scrubbers out after one use rather than trying to sanitize them. Foods tend to stick to the mesh when you use them to scrub stuck-on food from pots and pans.

More Uses for Vinegar

Vinegar is great for sanitizing surfaces, but it's also great for lots of other things. You can use it to clean and to get rid of weeds and pests. You can even make your own beauty products with it. If it isn't already one of your go-to's, it needs to be.