How often should I replace my bath sponge?


Cleaning Sponges

For maximum exfoliating power and minimum risk of mold and bacterial growth, you should replace a plastic mesh bath pouf after eight weeks and a natural sea sponge or loofah after three or four weeks. Disinfecting your bath sponge every day will also help reduce the amount of bacteria and mold that may be growing in it [source: Crean].

Keeping your bath sponge as dry as possible when not in use is one way to hold bacteria at bay. However, one study found that loofah sponges needed to air dry for at least two weeks to significantly lower the level of bacteria they contain [source: Bottone]. This means you need to take extra steps to ensure a germ-free sponge.

In addition to rinsing and hanging it in a well-ventilated area to dry, you can use a bleach solution to disinfect your bath sponge. To clean a synthetic sponge, you should soak it in three quarters of cup of bleach per gallon of warm water. For a natural sea sponge, use one-quarter cup of bleach per gallon of cool water. You should soak either type of sponge for at least five minutes [source: Columbia University]. An easier but possibly less effective approach entails throwing your sponge in the washing machine or the dishwasher. Laundry and dishwashing detergents are gentler and less toxic than bleach, but they may not kill all the bacteria and mold present.

By disinfecting your bath sponge each week and replacing it after several weeks, you can keep germs from taking root in your personal care items, bathroom and body. Read on for more information about keeping your skin clean and healthy.

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Sources

  • Bode, Marilyn. "Help Yourself to a Healthy Home." Federal Citizen Information Center. 2002. (Accessed 8/23/09) http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/cic_text/family/healthyhome/mold.htm
  • Bottone, Edward J., Anthony A. Perez, II, and Jamel L. Oeser. "Loofah Sponges as Reservoirs and Vehicles in the Transmission of Potentially Pathogenic Bacterial Species to Human Skin." Journal of Clinical Microbiology. 32(2), February 1994: 469-472. (Accessed 9/2/09) http://jcm.asm.org/cgi/reprint/32/2/469.pdf
  • Columbia University. "Are Washcloths and Other Body Scrubbers Bacteria Factories?" Go Ask Alice! March 28, 2003. (Accessed 8/26/09) http://www.goaskalice.columbia.edu/2376.html
  • Consumer Reports. "The Basic Facts About Bathrooms and Household Mold." November 2007. (Accessed 8/26/09) http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/home-garden/bed-bath/bathroom-remodeling/bathroom-fans/bathroom-fans-household-mold-306/index.htm
  • Crean, Ellen. "If It's Old, Throw It Out." CBS News. August 8, 2003. (Accessed 9/2/09) http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/08/07/earlyshow/health/health_news/main567220.shtml
  • East Metro Public Health. "Personal Hygiene." 2008. (Accessed 9/2/09) http://www.eastmetrohealth.com/Epidemiology/Personal_hygiene.html
  • Fitness Magazine. "When to Toss It." (Accessed 8/25/09) http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/health/body/germs-bacteria/when-to-throw-out-everyday-household-products
  • Mayo Clinic. "Folliculitis." October 5, 2007. (Accessed 8/26/09)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/folliculitis/DS00512
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "Mold Cleanup Guidelines." April 13, 2009. (Accessed 8/26/09) http://www.epa.gov/mold/cleanupguidelines.html
  • Van Delden, Christian and Barbara H. Iglewski. "Cell-to-Cell Signaling and Pseudomonas Aeruginosa Infections." Emerging Infectious Diseases 4(4), October-December 1998. (Accessed 9/2/09) http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/vol4no4/vandelden.htm

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