Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dish Cloths vs Sponges

 When I was growing up my mother always had a dish cloth hanging from faucet to dry. The image of this cloth hangs heavy in my memory. I remember feeling kind of ashamed about the fact that we used dish cloths instead of sponges like the people on television. Of course, I assumed she used cloths just because we were poor, and not as a matter of preference. But lately, I've noticed dish cloths are gaining popularity. This makes me wonder, which are better: Dish cloths or Sponges?

The Battle Against Harmful Bacteria
There are lots of harmful bacteria in our kitchens (especially in homes where meat is prepared), so both cloths and sponges require mindfulness. Killing germs on a dish cloth is as simple as washing and drying on high heat just once a week. You can basically throw it into your weekly laundry. It's also a good idea to microwave it, while moist, on high for a minute after each use. Be sure to hang it from a rack and let it dry out between use.

The moist, micro-crevices that make a sponges such an effective cleaning device also make them a cozy home for germs and more difficult to disinfect. Keeping a sponge that is used for cleaning pots and dishes fresh, requires microwaving AND being put in a dishwasher with a dry cycle after each use. Don't forget to let it air dry. The easiest, and cheapest, way to do this is to place it on the dish rack. You can also spring a couple of bucks and buy a sponge caddy; just make sure it has air holes and can drain.

Re-usablilty & Eco-friendliness
A dish cloth can stay in great shape for at least a year. Once you've worn it ragged and you're ready to say goodbye, you can drop it off at your local Greenmarket for textile recycling. I like Full Circle dish cloths because not only are they adorably colorful, they are also made of organic cotton, which makes their origin just as graceful as their departure.

The lifespan of a sponge depends on the sponge. My favorite sponges are made by Twist. They seem to hold up FOREVER. (Though I am personally weary to keep a kitchen sponge around for more than two weeks, I've been known to use them on my bathtub for months.) Another nice thing about Twist sponges is the sponges and their packaging are made entirely of biodegradeable materials, even the scrubby ones, which are made with natural loofah. (I should note that I am not sure if this means you can compost them. Does anyone out there know?)

Seems like there is no way around how dirty both these things can be, but the good news is both are fairly eco-friendly.  Try both yourself and let me know what you prefer by responding to the poll and leaving a comment.

Want more fun? Read vintage dish washing tips at Behind the Curtain!

Olivia Lane is a Blogger, Green Living Educator, and Health Coach trained at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She's also author of Baking Soda & Bliss: The Healthy & Happy Guide to Green Cleaning 
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1 comment:

  1. I use both, depending on what I'm cleaning. I feel like sponges can carry more germs, but, I'm not sure how that compares to a damp cloth.



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