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January 01, 2023


  • Dish sponges host more microbes than toilets
  • A 2022 research study shows that kitchen brushes have lower bacterial levels than dish sponges
  • Fast drying plays a crucial role for the bacterial load
  • 1094 Amazon reviews of kitchen brushes were analised
  • 79% said that the bristles don't last long enough
  • Fischnetz with Benefits are a long-lasting alternative to dish sponges with low bacterial loads

1. Dish sponges are microbiological playgrounds

Dish sponges are one of the dirtiest kitchen utensils in your home. Almost unbelievable, but true: they host more microbes than toilets! (Ojima, M., Toshima, Y., Koya, E. et al.)

Bacteria and germs are collected in kitchen sponges where they are able to incubate. The picture (adapted from Cardinale, M., Kaiser, D., Lueders, T. et al.) shows the bacteria (red dots) in a very small probe of a used dish sponge (cyan). Billions of bacterials cells can were identified in a 1 square centimeter area.

3D model of bateria in kitchen sponge. The figure is adapted from the paper:Microbiome analysis and confocal microscopy of used kitchen sponges reveal massive colonization by Acinetobacter, Moraxella and Chryseobacterium species.

By using sponges, they spread on kitchen surfaces. These surfaces are in contact with your hands and food. Finally, the bacteria make their way into your body.

That is why it is important to replace them with cleaner alternatives that do not act as reservoirs for microorganisms.

There are many alternatives for dish sponges to reduce bacterial loads, such as washing brushes, mesh scrubbers or washing nets.

2. Kitchen brushes dry quickly and have lower bacterial loads

Kitchen brushes have bristles that you can use to scrub dishes and they are a common alternative to kitchen sponges. A recently published study (Møretrø, T., Ferreira, V. B., Moen, B. et al.) compares the bacterial levels in kitchen sponges and dishwashing brushes.

Screenshot of article in Journal of Applied Microbiology. Title: "Bacterial levels and diversity in kitchen sponges and dishwashing brushes used by consumers"

The results show that cleaning utensils that dried between use have a lower bacterial load.

The researchers added Salmonella to dishwashing brushes and kitchen sponges. Some of the brushes and sponges were kept humid in plastic bags and some were allowed to dry.

As expected, for the brushes, the bacterial load was highest for the ones kept in humid bags. However, the difference in bacterial load between sponges in plastic bags and sponges on a tray was not significant.

The researcher observed that some of the sponges that were left on the trays overnight were not completely dry. The brushes however dried overnight, significantly faster than the kitchen sponges.

To summarise:

  • The dish sponges in the plastic bags and on the trays showed similar bacterial concentrations. The sponges on the tray did not dry overnight.
  • The brushes in the plastic bags and the ones that were hanged to dry showed a large difference in bacterial load. The brushes that were hanged dried completely overnight.

The scientists found that fast drying plays a crucial role for the bacterial load.

3. Too soft, too stiff, bristles wear out quickly - kitchen brushes have flaws

Four used kitchen brushes as dish sponge alternatives. The photos were taken from Amazon product reviews. The brushes are in front of a green background.

Although brushes are more hygienic compared to kitchen sponges, they have lots of flaws.

I analysed 1094 Amazon reviews with ratings from one to four stars. These reviews were taken from the first three products that Amazon suggested to me when searching for "kitchen brushes". On average these products were reviewed with 4.7 out of 5 possible stars.

The most frequently mentioned weakness is that the bristles wear out too quickly. 79% said that the bristles don't last long enough - in many cases they get flat after 1 to 2 weeks of usage.

8% find the bristles too stiff such that soap, water and food from the bristles is flung everywhere. 8% find the bristles too soft such that they can only use them for light cleaning, but not for pots, pans and dried food. 2% have problems to clean tight spaces such as the curved bottom of a pot or the bottom of a glas.

Bar chart that shows the weaknesses of kitchen brushes. The title is "Frequently mentioned weaknesses of kitchen brushes"

4. The best dish sponge alternative that lasts long and cleans in tight spaces

Fischnetz with Benefits are the best dish sponge alternative. They are upcycled from used fishing nets, sustainable, hygienic and last longer than kitchen brushes.

Similar to kitchen brushes they dry quickly and do not allow germs to grow in them. However, they more durable than brushes and last for years before they need to be replaced.

Fischnetz are ideal for dish washing and cleaning. They are extremely flexible and allow easy cleaning in tight spaces such as curved bottoms of a pots and glasses.

You can find them in every Moroccan household - they have been in use for decades and replace millions of kitchen sponges.


"For cleaner dishes and a brighter future!"

✔️ Very easy to use
✔️ Reaches more spots
✔️ Hygienic
✔️ Doesn't smell
✔️ Lasts for years
✔️ Saves money


When it comes to dishwashing, there are alternatives to traditional dish sponges that offer several advantages. Here's what's better than a dish sponge:

  1. Fischnetz with Benefits: Our upcycled fishing net is an excellent choice as a dish sponge alternative. It offers superior hygiene, durability, and functionality compared to traditional sponges. Fischnetz doesn't act as a reservoir for microorganisms, dries quickly, and can be easily cleaned.
  2. Kitchen brushes: Kitchen brushes are another great alternative. They have bristles that allow for effective scrubbing and are known for their quick drying properties, reducing the chance of bacterial growth. Look for brushes with sturdy bristles that are long-lasting and easy to clean.
  3. Mesh scrubbers: Mesh scrubbers made from durable materials like nylon or stainless steel are highly effective at removing tough stains and food residue. They offer better longevity compared to traditional sponges and are easy to clean and maintain.
  4. Silicone scrubbers: Silicone scrubbers have gained popularity as a dishwashing alternative. They are non-porous, easy to clean, and resistant to bacteria buildup. Silicone scrubbers are gentle on delicate dishes and can be used for various cleaning tasks in the kitchen.

Yes, it's true! Studies have shown that dish sponges can harbor more microbes than toilets themselves. The accumulation of bacteria and germs in kitchen sponges can pose health risks.

Yes, when allowed to dry properly, kitchen brushes have been found to have lower bacterial loads compared to traditional dish sponges. Drying plays a crucial role in reducing bacterial growth.

Fischnetz with Benefits are upcycled from used fishing nets, making them sustainable and long-lasting. They dry quickly, preventing the growth of germs, and their flexibility allows for easy cleaning in tight spaces.

About the author

Hoi, I am Oliver, one of the founders and managers of Fischnetz with Benefits.

Being a passionate surfer and having a strong connection to the ocean, I am super enthusiastic about creating a sustainable and long-lasting product that has a positive impact on the marine environment.

I have been using upcycled fishing nets as a sponge alternative for many years myself. I discovered this alternative during my surf travels in Morocco, where they already have been in use for decades.