We know what you’re thinking, what household item could possibly be any dirtier and germier than your own toilet seat? According to a recent study, your kitchen sponge is 200,000 times dirtier than your very own toilet seat.

In other words, your kitchen sponge is germier than you ever suspected. Due to the moist environment and porous nature, kitchen sponges are loaded with bacteria, including E. Coli, salmonella, and Staphylococcus. After testing 1,000 dishcloths and sponges in home kitchens, Arizona researchers found that about 10% contained the harmful bacteria of salmonella.

Sponges Photo Credit: Horia Varlan (Flickr).

Photo Credit: Horia Varlan (Flickr).

According to researchers at the USDA, the best way to clean and keep your kitchen sponges bacteria-free is to toss them in the dishwasher or even in the microwave for about 30 seconds. The results of both of these cleaning methods killed up to 99% percent of germs present in kitchen sponges. For safe and germ-free use, disinfect or replace your kitchen sponges or dish clothes about every two weeks.

No matter how often or how hard we clean, bacteria still lingers throughout our homes. In addition to kitchen sponges, everyday items like smartphones, makeup brushes, and even toothbrush holders are covered in thousands and thousands of germs. To prevent the spread of these germs, clean and disinfect household items regularly.