We've all been there. Here's what to do.
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Warning: If you’re a germaphobe, stop reading now. I’m about to ruin your day.

Nothing is more disgusting than a stinky sponge. As it turns out, that smell is a warning: Your kitchen sponge is likely the single dirtiest item in your whole house.

A wet and stagnant sponge grows new bacteria at the absolutely horrifying rate of once every 20 minutes, according to Dr. Philip Tierno, a clinical professor at the Microbiology and Pathology departments at NYU Langone, and author of, The Secret Life of Germs.

Meaning, if you’re just using a sponge to clean your dishes, they might end up grosser than when you started.

“Soap and water don’t kill germs—they only wash germs away,” Tierno told the Huffington Post. “But if you have a dirty sponge to start with, you have a nice layer of germs to cover your plate.”

While sponges will always be a breeding ground for bacteria, there are ways to keep them as clean as possible.

Credit: Getty Images; Credi: Sasiistock

Getty Images; Credi: Sasiistock

Clean your sponge daily.

That’s right. Disinfect that baby every single day. Bleach is your best bet, but microwaving a damp sponge for about one minute will also do the trick.

Keep it dry.

Wring it out well after every use and store it in a dry location. Stop that bacteria growth in its tracks!

Replace it often.

Don’t be a hero. Once a sponge reaches its limit, there’s no going back. The results of a 2017 study suggest we should be replacing our sponges weekly.

Use it only on dishes.

Never, ever use it wipe up meat juice. That’s just asking for a foodborne illness. Also stick to dish rags or paper towels when cleaning your countertops.

Just make the switch to a dish brush.

I know this is hard to hear. But sponges are just nasty, you guys. You’ll still have to clean the brush regularly—however, it will dry much more quickly, giving the bacteria less time to multiply.

Now that you’re sufficiently disgusted, we recommend giving one of these dish brushes a try:

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Dishwasher safe and affordable, this brush has a nearly perfect rating on Amazon.

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This dishwashing set dispenses soap at the push of a button. Plus, the rubber grip assures it won’t slip out of your hand.

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While this brush is too harsh for your dishes, it’s perfect to clean out the sink.