How to Sanitize Sponges and Scrub Brushes

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

Person rinsing sponge under kitchen faucet
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Those kitchen and bathroom sponges and scrub brushes that you use for cleaning need sanitizing themselves. Here's a safe and easy way to sanitize them so your main cleaning items stay fresh.

What You Need

What You Do

Soak your sponges and scrub brushes in a container of white vinegar overnight. 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 of Sanitizing With Vinegar

  • 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


  • 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.

Sanitize Sponges and Scrub Brushes in 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.

When to Replace Your Sponges and Scrub Brushes

Stay on top of sanitizing your sponges, and you should be able to keep them until they wear out.

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-tos, it needs to be.