I've been in spring cleaning mode for the past few weeks, and washing dishes is by far my least favorite household cleaning activity. I don't have a dishwasher, and the sink manages to be at just the right height to make doing it give me an instant backache. Plus, I tend to be a bit...particular, shall we say, about smells. My family might even go so far as to call me the smell Nazi. Anyway, the slightest whiff of a mildewy sponge completely grosses me out, but I hate throwing away something so often - it's just too wasteful for my wallet and the environment. Plus, a smelly sponge shouldn't be used to wash dishes - it means bacteria is present.
Luckily, keeping a sponge bacteria and stink-free is simple.
All you need to do to keep a sponge like new is drop it in boiling water for a few minutes. Then fish it out with a slotted spoon or tongs and run it under cold water. Make sure you don't squeeze the sponge out with your bare hands even if it's cool on the outside, because very hot water is trapped inside (learned this one the hard way).
Other methods I've come across are dousing it in bleach (ick!) or popping it in the microwave while wet. I don't own a microwave, and the sponge could get dangerously hot, so I'll stick to doing it the old-fashioned way.
The other thing that's great about sanitizing in water is that you can add a few drops of esential oil to make it smell delicious - I use tea tree, because it's also naturally antibacterial, but you can use whatever scent you like!
Here's to greener spring cleaning routines!