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Is your sponge ruining your knife?

By:David Olkovetsky

In this edition of our Knife Education Series, we're going over the right type of sponge to use to keep your knives in great shape. We'll also give you some tips to keep your sponges in the best possible  condition for the longest amount of time. 

As a refresher, we recently discussed how you can keep your knives looking their best, by washing and drying immediately after cooking, and applying a bit of food grade mineral oil on occasion. We also went over several techniques to keep your knives sharp, and chip-free for longer. Proper sponge technique touches on both: keeping knives looking good, and helping them stay sharper for longer. Let's jump in.

Use a non-scratch sponge.

Pick a non-scratch right sponge: Grocery stores and hardware stores carry a variety of sponge options. Our recommendation is to only purchase sponges labeled non-scratch. Their “heavy duty” cousins often contain very aggressive scouring materials, like Aluminum Oxide, which will scratch up your blades and also dull your knife edges. In fact, Aluminum Oxide is one of the main materials used in abrasive belts and whetstones: the material can really eat metal! To make matters worse, heavy duty sponges can also scratch up your pots, pans, and wooden cutting boards, if used too aggressively. That's why we always recommend non-scratch sponges.

The best non-scratch that we've tested is the O-Cedar Scrunge® Multi-Use Sponge. We like it because it's Teflon™ approved for non-stick surfaces, it readily absorbs water, squeezes dry easily, and the shape and size are quite versatile. 

The best way to wash knives: Wet your sponge with warm water and then squeeze a bit of dish soap into it. Make sure the soap is well-absorbed. When washing cutlery and dishes, we recommend starting off with the gentler side of the sponge. This side is typically made of cellulose or a foam material (polyurethane). If some food scraps are stuck on, go ahead and switch to the scouring side. Once your knife looks like it's free of any remaining food particles, run some warm water water over it to wash off the soap. A clean sponge and a bit of standard dish soap are all you’ll need to clean off your dirty dishes, and keep your cutlery in top-notch condition. For a detailed guide to washing your knife, visit Artisan Revere's Guide to Washing and Drying Your Knives.

Clean your sponge: When you finish up with the sponge, don’t forget to clean it off. This is one of those unusual kitchen tips that almost everyone forgets about—cleaning the sponge you just cleaned with. It is important because bacteria thrives in moisture.

Your daily ritual should include two important steps. When you finish washing the dishes, remember to 1. Squeeze any remaining water and soap out of the sponge, and 2. Store it in a way that allows air to flow all around the sponge.

There are three quick and easy methods to killing bacteria, like Salmonella, E. coli, and Staphylococcus which might be living in and on your sponge. A few times a week with any of these 3 cleaning methods will help you feel confident that your sponge is bacteria-free.

  1. The Microwave: Soak your sponge in water and then place it in the microwave. Ensure that the sponge is fully saturated. Run the microwave on high for 1-2 minutes. Carefully remove the sponge. Do not wring it out for at least 5 minutes, as the water it retains will be extremely hot and can burn you. Squeeze out the remaining water only once the sponge has cooled off. To be confident you won’t burn yourself, it’s a good idea to wear latex cleaning gloves. This method kills 99.9% of bacteria. 
  2. Bleach + Water: Create a mixture of 9 parts water, 1 part bleach. Place and leave the sponge in the mixture to fully soak up for 5 minutes. Rinse thoroughly. Dry. This method also kills 99.9% of bacteria.
  3. Dishwasher: Place your sponge in the dishwasher and make sure to run it with “heated dry” turned on. 

That’s all you need to know to make sure your sponges aren't dulling your knives and making you sick. If you’re ready to upgrade your knives, join us, as we improve the quality of knives across America.

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