You might think that your kitchen is sparkling clean, but it's probably 200 times more germ-infested than your lavatory seat. The culprits are sponges and dishcloths, which can provide a happy home for millions of the bugs that cause food poisioning, which is on the increase.
American researchers, however, have come up with a devastatingly simple answer to the gastroenteritis threat: zap the little devils in the microwave. A team of environmental engineers from the University of Florida has found that two minutes in a microwave can sterilise most household sponges after use, killing more than 99 per cent of the harmful bacteria that cause illness.
Gabriel Bitton, a professor of environmental engineering who led the study, said: "People often put their sponges and scrubbers in the dishwasher, but if they really want to decontaminate them, and not just clean them, they should use the microwave."
Professor Bitton said that cooks should consider the benefits of microwaving their sponges and dishcloths every other day.