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Dangers lurking in your sponges

HOME-CLEANING tools may harbor germs, warn experts from the Shanghai Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The center’s study of home towels and sponges showed severe contamination.

Sponges held more germs than towels, the study found.

The study sampled more than 500 home cotton towels and sponges, and the center’s experts suggest disinfecting towels and sponges and changing them frequently, as the number of germs on eating utensils has to do with how they are cleaned.

They warn against using towels to dry utensils as it increases the risk of contamination. Putting them into disinfectors or drying them in the air after washing them with running water can prevent germs.

There is no need to panic over germs on towels and sponges, but don’t forget to sanitize them either, said Zhu Renyi, head of the CDC’s disinfection and infection control department.

According to research by the University of Giessen and the Munich Heermuci Research Institute, 362 kinds of germs can be found on kitchen sponges and they cannot be thoroughly removed even after cleaning or disinfecting them in a microwave.

Zhu said with a large number of germs, sponges and towels can produce odors and can be sticky.

“Although we didn’t study the germ types, our data shows severe contamination which is consistent with the German study,” Zhu said.

“Although there isn’t a standard for the number of germs on sponges and towels, these numbers are high by regular standards.”

The study also shows that sponges are more severely contaminated than cotton towels.

“It has to do with the materials sponges are made of. They absorb dirty things easily, and because they are harder to dry off, germ growth is easier,” Zhu said.

Zhu said the germs hidden in sponges and towels are usually common ones, such as bacteria from the environment and mycete, which are not as threatening to healthy people as to people with weak immune systems.

Zhu suggests drying towels and sponges by hanging them up after cleaning them.

Boiling them or soaking them in disinfectants also cuts contamination.

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