Help me get the *funk* out!
August 22, 2005 9:45 AM   Subscribe

How can I keep my Handi Wipe and my scrotch bite sponge from getting smelly? These usually only last for a couple of days before the *stench* I personally call *the funk* settles in. What strategies are ther for combating the funk?
posted by thimk to Home & Garden (20 answers total)
Throw 'em in the dishwasher (if you have one) or sprinkle on some baking soda and zap briefly in microwave (if you have one).
posted by scratch at 9:46 AM on August 22, 2005

I throw the sponge in the top rack of the dishwasher whenever I do a load. That helps a lot.

I've also heard you can nuke them in the microwave, but I've never tried it.
posted by ambrosia at 9:47 AM on August 22, 2005

My other trick for getting funky smells out is to soak things in a 1:1 water/white vinegar solution. That does the trick on a lot of different things, and is eco-friendly. (And you don't need a dishwasher or microwave.)
posted by ambrosia at 9:50 AM on August 22, 2005

It's the bacteria in the sponge. It comes from the things you're cleaning and the warm moist environment. Maybe try soaking it in super hot water, then wringing as much moisture ouf it as possible? Or buy the industrial ones?
posted by clearlynuts at 9:52 AM on August 22, 2005

Nuke it. Your microwave may vary, so try one minute at first, then two...the idea is to get it bone-dry, but not scorch it. Usually about three minutes.

Also: store sponges on edge, away from moisture. This allows the sponge to dry between uses. Never, ever let them sit in some scudgy thing in the sink. There are even sponge stands that facilitate this type of storage.
posted by frykitty at 9:58 AM on August 22, 2005

Response by poster: i get it all sudsy..then nuke 'em for 3-5 minutes . the funk returns shortly. There has to be a better way.
posted by thimk at 10:01 AM on August 22, 2005

Scrotch bite sponge? Ew…
posted by designbot at 10:04 AM on August 22, 2005

The better way is to throw away all your sponges. Seriously.

I use paper towels to wipe off meat juices, eggs, and other salmonella colonies, cloth dishrags (changed daily) for everything else, and a little green scrubbie for the surfaces that need more than elbow grease to get clean.

Sponges and their puffy, sheltered interiors are excellent havens for bacteria compared to open weave cloths and porous green scrubbies. Bacteria thrive in moist areas. Whatever cleaning cloths you use, change them daily. Wash batches of used cloths in hot, soapy water (ideally with bleach), then make sure they dry thoroughly.
posted by maudlin at 10:06 AM on August 22, 2005

Do you let them dry out? If they stay wet all the time, then they get pretty funky. If you rinse and squeeze them after each use and let them dry out they should be fine. Next time you are buying sponges you might try the antibacterial kind.
posted by caddis at 10:48 AM on August 22, 2005

Switching to dish soap marketed as "antibacterial" with Triclosan as the active ingredient helped with us. Using non-organic foam sponges like these Brawny ones also helped. Using the two together totally eliminated the funk, but using either alone did not.
posted by zsazsa at 11:02 AM on August 22, 2005 [1 favorite]

Sorry, but I get a little bit ranty about antibacterial products because of the risk that resistant strains of bacteria will emerge. See this Consumer Reports summary and this brief report from the American College of Pathologists.

Hot water, soap, bleach, and thorough drying are all you need to clean surfaces and cloths effectively -- honest! The authorities I cite above recommend alcohol as an additional dinsfectant when and if you need them, but are strongly opposed to Triclosan and similar compounds.
posted by maudlin at 11:17 AM on August 22, 2005

When my sponge gets the funk, I wash in hot soapy water. But this doesn't happen very often, because after every use I rinse and wring it and set it on the edge of the sink to dry.
posted by Specklet at 11:19 AM on August 22, 2005

Wash often in dishwasher or washing machine. Or rinse in a mild (1 part bleach, 3 parts water) bleach solution. If you have several sponges, you can always grab a clean one as needed, and the funky one goes in the wash.
posted by theora55 at 1:03 PM on August 22, 2005

Yep absolutely, drying it completely kills everything that's living on it (that's why kitchens that are wiped down more often can be havens for breeding bacteria, more than a dirty kitchen with dried food), except hepetitis, that takes a little more time to kill. So I nuke my sponge for a minute, and make sure it dries completely.
posted by scazza at 1:24 PM on August 22, 2005

Sponges are some of the foulest things possible.

I find leaving soap in the sponge - not rinsing it out - keeps the odor down, as does keeping it up on the rim of sink (it dries out there.) However, when a sponge starts to smell funny, that means it's 110% chock full of nasty kill-you bacteria.

Throw that sponge away.
posted by ikkyu2 at 1:43 PM on August 22, 2005

drying it completely kills everything that's living on it

Completely false, untrue and wrong. Most bacteria have a 'spore' phase they can enter, surviving in this phase without water for millenia.
posted by ikkyu2 at 1:44 PM on August 22, 2005

maudlin, yeah, it breaks my heart to buy antibacterial soap. Knowing some of the methods from this thread will help curb my use of triclosan.
posted by zsazsa at 1:47 PM on August 22, 2005

Here is some more info on sponges, cutting boards and other kitchen breeding grounds.
posted by caddis at 2:15 PM on August 22, 2005

If you live in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, or South... wait until September 15 or so and you'll probably forget about this problem until next July. My kitchen smells like a sock even though I clean it thoroughly every couple days. It's because it's August in NYC.
posted by armchairsocialist at 7:55 PM on August 22, 2005

The scrubbie advice was the best: don't use celluose-based sponges. Switch to plastic, i.e. nylon scrubbers. They don't decay in a funky mess in less than a week.

And the kind they have out now attached to a well for squirting out detergent are awesome.
posted by macinchik at 4:40 PM on August 26, 2005

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