Turning a Stinky Sponge into a Clean Sponge

Turning a Stinky Sponge into a Clean Sponge
There is nothing that makes me gag more than the smell of a stinky sponge.  Okay, maybe there are a few other items or situations I’m not remembering, but a stinky sponge is up there.  I hate the smell you get just being near it and especially the smell of your hands after using it.

We know as Smart Mamas that a traditional sponge should be changed every 2 weeks.  But as it recently happened to me, the smell can appear in just days.  I’m too cheap to throw away a 3 day old sponge. I’m sure you are too!

What is the smell?

According to every site I have read, a stinky sponge is the result of a bacteria ridden object, typically fostered through a wet environment.  I can’t keep a sponge not wet, can you?

How does a Smart Mama get rid of the smell?

I placed the wet sponge in a microwave safe dish and microwaved it for 20 seconds.  The sponge was odor free (and hot!)  On the next “smelly occasion” I placed it on the top shelf of my dishwasher and washed it with the dirty plates.  Sponge came out odor free!

Another favorite I came across online says, to soak the sponge in half a cup of white vinegar for a few hours, rinse it thoroughly, then allow to dry. The acidity of the vinegar will kill a huge portion of the germ population and reduce the odor of the sponge.

How do other moms get rid of the smell?

Fellow readers shared suggestions on conquering the stinky sponge smell. Take a look at some GREAT suggestions!

  1. @MommyMixUp of always soak my sponges in diluted Fabuloso (can be found at Target or WalMart in the cleaning products section)
  2. @Guavalicious of Soak it in white vinegar then rinse with hot water, squeeze out and throw in the microwave for a minute. AND To keep odor away you can also throw it in the dishwasher whenever you run a load.

  3. @SugarSnapKids of Try microwaving it (wet it first) for 2 mins
  4. @MommyK8 of Bleach it or nuke it for 30 secs. Be careful with the latter, HOT SPONGE!
  5. @MommyhoodMemos of Try soaking it in lemon juice? Works for fishy smelling hands at least…
  6. @Marjo_Elaine : Throw your kitchen sponge in the dishwasher when you run it next. Comes out clean and almost like new.
  7. @MommieKate of Throw it in dishwasher for a spin
  8. @CleaningQuickie of You can actually put Quickie’s microfiber sponges in the dishwasher to sanitize them.


Ahhhh…..The clean, non-stinky sponge!

Share Your Stinky Sponge Tips

Do you have a different way of cleaning the stink sponge? Would love to add it to the list! Please share your stinky sponge remedy!

Learn THREE other ways to keep your home organized and clean on Monday mornings!



  1. Danielle aka that_Danielle 23 August, 2010 at 08:18 Reply

    They told me at the Quickie booth at BlogHer that you need to nuke it for 4 minutes to kill bacteria.

  2. Harriet 27 August, 2010 at 06:25 Reply

    I hadn’t thought of just microwaving a sponge to get rid of the jerms and smell, the white vinegar tip sounds good too, I’ll have to try that out!

  3. Mary 12 September, 2014 at 23:21 Reply

    I add bleach to my dishwashing liquid so that I have about a 10% bleach to 90% soap solution and shake it well. Using this to wash my dishes ensures that no germs remain on the dishes (rinse well of course) and keeps the sponge from developing a stinky smell. HOWEVER – antibacterial detergents should not be mixed with bleach.

  4. RC 26 January, 2015 at 14:00 Reply

    The 100% foolproof natural way to fix smelly sponges is to use Borax (Sodium Tetraborate)​. Use a small plastic container that is close to the same size as the sponge. Put 1/2″ of Borax into the container. Pour in enough water to cover the Borax + 1/4″. Put your fully soaked sponge in the container with Borax/water and leave it there. Keep that by the sink. Every time you use the sponge, soak it and place it in the container (add water to the container as needed to keep 1/4″ of water over the Borax). The Borax will last for 2 months.
    Borax is a naturally occurring mineral and is found in dry lake beds. Ponds that have a high concentration of this mineral do not have much bacterial life. Bacteria is what makes the sponge smell, therefore keeping you sponge in a high concentration of borax/water will keep your sponges from smelling

  5. L.J 26 June, 2016 at 09:13 Reply

    I fill it with hand sanitizer and mush it around for a few minutes and then rinse. Smells good as new and you won’t burn your fingers getting hot in the microwave!

  6. Jamie b 14 August, 2016 at 17:57 Reply

    I grew up watching my granny and mom (and eventually myself) putting a dirty sponge in the wash with my whites. In conjunction with the oxy and bleach I use, they come out non smelling and sanitized from the bleach

    • Matty 29 April, 2019 at 16:28 Reply

      You have to put your microwave into a microwave oven for about 20 seconds. It helps if you soak it in vinegar first.

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