Why Does My Sponge Smell? 5 Tips to Freshen Up!

If you’ve been washing dishes for a while, you’ve probably noticed that sometimes your sponge smells a little off. While it’s not the most pleasant thing to deal with, it’s not uncommon. In fact, sponges can harbor all sorts of bacteria and fungus, which can grow and cause that funky smell. In this article, we’ll look at why your sponge smells and give you 5 tips on how to freshen it up.

Why does my sponge smell?

Before we dive into how to freshen up your sponge, let’s take a look at why it smells in the first place. There are a few reasons:

Sponge bacteria and fungus

Believe it or not, sponges can be a breeding ground for all sorts of bacteria and fungi. When you use a sponge to clean dirty dishes, it can pick up food particles and other organic matter. This provides the perfect environment for bacteria and fungi to grow and multiply. The more the sponge is used, the more bacteria and fungi it can harbor, which can cause that unpleasant smell.


Another reason your sponge may smell is that it’s not drying properly. When a sponge is wet, it provides a perfect environment for bacteria and fungi to grow. If the sponge is not properly wrung out and dried after each use, it could be harboring moisture that fuels the growth of these microorganisms.

Dirty dishes

If you’re using a sponge to clean dirty dishes, it makes sense that it might pick up some of that dirt and grime. Even if you’re using soap and hot water, there could still be some particles left behind that can contribute to that unpleasant smell.

5 tips to freshen up your sponge

Now that we know why your sponge might smell, let’s take a look at some tips to freshen it up.

1. Microwave it

Via: Unsplash

One of the easiest ways to kill bacteria and fungi in your sponge is to microwave it. Simply wet the sponge, place it in the microwave, and nuke it for about two minutes. This will kill most of the microorganisms in the sponge and freshen it up. Just be careful when removing it from the microwave, as it will be hot!

2. Soak it in vinegar

Via: Unsplash

Vinegar is a great natural disinfectant, and it can be used to freshen up your sponge. Simply soak the sponge in a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water for about 30 minutes, then rinse it well and let it dry. This will kill any bacteria and fungus in the sponge and leave it smelling fresh.

3. Use bleach

Via: Unsplash

If you’re dealing with a particularly stubborn bacterial or fungal problem, you can use bleach to kill it. Mix ¾ cup of bleach with one gallon of water, then soak the sponge in the mixture for about five minutes. Rinse the sponge well and let it dry thoroughly. Just be sure to wear gloves when handling bleach, as it can be harsh on the skin.

4. Use a sponge holder

A sponge holder is a great way to help your sponge dry out properly between uses. When you’re done using the sponge, place it in the holder and let it air dry. This will help prevent moisture from building up in the sponge and reduce the growth of bacteria and fungi.

5. Replace it often

No matter how well you take care of your sponge, it will eventually wear out and start to harbor bacteria and fungi. To prevent this, it’s a good idea to replace your sponge every week or two. This will ensure that you’re always working with a fresh, clean sponge.

The bottom line

Dealing with a smelly sponge can be unpleasant, but it’s a common problem that’s easy to fix. By following these tips, you can freshen up your sponge and keep it smelling clean and fresh.


  • How often should I replace my sponge?
  • It’s a good idea to replace your sponge every week or two to prevent bacteria and fungus from building up.

  • What’s the best way to kill bacteria and fungus in my sponge?
  • Microwaving your sponge or soaking it in a mixture of water and vinegar are both effective ways to kill bacteria and fungus in your sponge.

  • Can I use bleach to clean my sponge?
  • Yes, you can use a bleach mixture to clean your sponge, but be sure to wear gloves and rinse the sponge thoroughly afterwards.

  • How can I prevent my sponge from smelling in the first place?
  • Properly wringing out your sponge and letting it air dry in a sponge holder can help prevent moisture buildup and reduce the growth of bacteria and fungus.

  • Can I wash my sponge in the dishwasher?
  • Yes, you can wash your sponge in the dishwasher, but it’s a good idea to do it on a regular basis to keep it clean.


  1. Cleanipedia – How to Clean A Smelly Sponge
  2. Today – Does Using A Microwave Really Kill Bacteria On Your Kitchen Sponge?
  3. Vice – How to wash your nasty-ass kitchen sponge

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