The University of Florida has shown microwaving kitchen sponges and plastic scrubbers for just two minutes can sterilize them effectively. The researchers in the study used a common household microwave oven to zap the sponges and scrub pads for varying lengths of time, wringing them out and determining the microbial load on them each time.
The more resilient Bacillus cereus spores, which can cause diarrhea, required two additional minutes to be killed.
Food-borne illnesses affect at least 6 million Americans annually, causing at least 9,000 deaths and $4 billion to $6 billion in medical costs and other expenses.
“The microwave is a very powerful and an inexpensive tool for sterilization,” Bitton concluded, adding that people should microwave their sponges according to how often they cook.