A Comparison of Urethane and Cellulose Sponges as Cleaning Tools in Household Kitchens

Charles P. Gerba, Laura Y. Sifuentes, Akrum H. Tamimi Biblographic citation: Food Protection Trends, vol. 37, no. 3, pp. 170-175, May 2017 Volume 37, Issue 3: Pages 170–175

Household kitchen sponges are known to harbor enteric bacteria and are believed to play a role in cross contamination during food preparation. This study compared the reduction of chlorine and a quaternary ammonium disinfectant, and of bacterial load, for polyurethane and cellulose sponges used in households. Chlorine levels were not reduced after 30 minutes when polyurethane sponges were used, but cellulous sponges use reduced chlorine levels by 24%. Polyurethane sponges always had fewer total bacteria, coliforms and Escherichia coli than cellulose sponges. This was also the case of both types of sponges containing an antimicrobial. A risk assessment comparison indicated that this difference resulted in a reduced risk of infection by almost 90% if pathogenic E. coli were present in polyurethane sponges vs. cellulose sponges. Overall, use of the polyurethane sponges used in this study has several advantages over use of cellulose sponges in reducing exposure to enteric bacteria in the kitchen.

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