The kitchen sponge--a seemingly helpful kitchen companion--actually has a dirty secret: it harbors 200,000 times more bacteria than a toilet seat. Kitchen sponges are the most bacteria ridden household objects. In fact, it is actually a perfect breeding ground for bacteria due to the porous areas and its damp nature.

Sponges can carry bacteria like salmonella, listeria, and E. coli to name a few, resulting in food poisoning, diarrhea, vomiting and other symptoms. Just think: vegetables can transfer bugs to your sponge, cleaning up areas like cutting boards with sponges (especially if there was blood on it) can cause disease, and new bacteria is bred and builds up approximately every 20 minutes on your sponge. Sound scared yet? Don't be. Here are a few solutions to help solve all your sanitary needs:

1. Replace your sponges

You should be replacing your sponge at least once a month, and especially if it starts to smell. That could actually be a sign of mold growth, and you definitely don't want to be cleaning dirty plates with moldy sponges.

2. Sanitize your sponges

If you do not want to buy a pack of new sponges, perhaps try sanitizing them. It turns out, microwaving sponges to get rid of their germs via heat isn't the most effective method. The best thing you can do to clean your sponges at home is frequently submerge your sponge into a solution of bleach and water (half a teaspoon of bleach for every quart of water).

3. Use a dishwasher

By far the most thoughtless method, when using a dishwasher you never have to worry about bacterial growth, or even doing the manual labor that comes with washing dishes.

To avoid any other spread of germs, don't use your sponge to clean up areas aside from dishes and silverware, such as countertops and spills. This could actually cross contaminate your sponge and end up causing you to get sick when you clean your dishes again.

Unfortunately for those in a dorm like myself, method 3 is not really an option. Also, replace/clean your sponges and keep them in a dry area to ensure bacteria free kitchen utensils and dishes. Remember, you wouldn't want to be cleaning grime with grime.