How Sponge-Worthy Is Your Kitchen?

The holiday season brings its perennial questions: "Do you prefer your stuffing inside or outside the bird?"; "Have you been naughty or nice?"; and, if you are wise enough to invite guests who pitch in on cleanup, "Which sponge do you use for the dishes?" I had a hunch that, like me, most people are members of the two-sponge club: one for the sink and one for countertops, with cloths and paper towels -- recycled, of course -- for everything else. So when Seventh Generation asked me to poll my friends on their sponge situation, I was surprised to learn that most are one-sponge or even no-sponge adherents. Sherrie has one sponge for dishes and counters and another for spills that wind up on the floor. "I would never use a sponge that has touched the floor on anything else," she says. Meanwhile, Liane has lots of cloth towels for wiping up spills and also uses rags for general cleaning, washing everything frequently. She also keeps recycled paper towels on hand. Fastidious, ultra-efficient JoAnne, who dust mops while she chats, shocked me with the news that she eschews sponges. (And I thought I knew her.) Instead, she has one cloth she uses for dishes and others for her stainless steel appliances and glass. She uses washcloths that she's going to launder to clean the counters and floor spills. Shana used to have two kitchen sponges but cut back to one after realizing the germ potential inherent in reusing a sponge for wiping counters and appliances. So she uses one sponge for the dishes and paper towels or Seventh Generation disinfecting wipes for the counters. I already knew you can lengthen the life of your sponges by sterilizing them in the microwave but Liane and Shana turned me onto a new trick: tucking them into the silverware basket when running a load of dishes. Even so, Shana says she's "starting to get a little skeeved when I see sponges in other people's sinks, wondering how long they've been there and how often they get mixed up. Come to think of it, SpongeBob has been around for a number of years. I wonder..." Interesting point, Shana. Seventh Generation Nation, how many sponges do you use to clean up? photo: bark