Germaphobes beware, it may be time to ditch the kitchen sponge for good. A new study by Duke University researchers found the average kitchen sponge is crawling with more bacterial species than a lab Petri dish. In fact, no matter how much you replace your sponge, you’ll always run into the same issue. The new findings show it’s not the dirt, but rather the structure of the sponge that makes it a friendly place for microbes to live.
Similar to humans, some bacterial species like to live with their fellow germs, while others prefer to live alone. In the new study, researchers found bacterial species that prefer a “mixed-housing environment” were more likely to live in your kitchen sponge.
“As it turns out, a sponge is a very simple way to implement multilevel portioning to enhance the overall microbial community,” says Lingchong You, professor of biomedical engineering at Duke, in a university release. “Maybe that’s why it’s a really dirty thing — the structure of a sponge just makes a perfect home for microbes.”
The results could help industries that use bacteria to clean up pollution or produce commercial products to consider the ideal structural habitat for microbes.
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SOURCE: Study Finds, Jocelyn Solis-Moreira