There are a lot of dirty little things in our homes -- laptops, TV remotes, bathroom drains, even our pillow cases, for crying out loud. And if you think the grossest, by far, is the sponge at your kitchen sink, science would agree with you.
Studies from the University of Arizona and NSF International have shown that a sponge used in the kitchen harbors a "forest" of fecal bacteria, spores and pathogens (thanks to the damp environment and the food you wash off your plate), but even so: it's still not the most bacteria-loaded thing in your home.
That honor belongs to you.
Rob Dunn, a biologist at North Carolina State University, studied the dust in 1,200 homes to decipher their microbial situations.
He told HuffPost that while the kitchen sponge might contain "nearly everything that you find on food, along with fecal, vaginal and skin microbes," the same bacteria are found "with the air you breathe."
And having all that bacteria in our bodies is a fact of life. "Generally speaking," Dunn said, "you are the most bacteria-laden thing in your home. Compared to your skin, your gut, etc. ... the sponge is a desert."
So if you can't fix your own bacteria-laden body, what can you fix? Well, that sponge, for starters. There are things you can do to help prevent your sponge from seeing its worst days -- such as giving it the smell test (and replacing it when it smells bad, about every other week), swapping it for a dishrag and washing that frequently, or upgrading to a synthetic sponge, such as Brillo's Estracell.
"Cellulose sponges are made of an organic compound: paper, from trees. When you introduce water and bacteria to that environment, the bacteria starts to feed on that organic compound," Eric Phillips, the brand manager at Brillo, told The Huffington Post. "That's why you get that mildewy smell on the sponge."
So take comfort in the fact that you can make your sponges a little less gross. But your body? Just be relieved that it's all a part of being human.
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