Thinking of Disinfecting Your Sponge? It’ll Do More Harm Than Good

iStock
iStock

Common house-cleaning wisdom advises you to clean your sponges periodically. Some experts advise running them through the dishwasher, while others suggest microwaving a wet sponge. But a new study says that both of those techniques will do more harm than good, as The New York Times reports.

A trio of microbiologists came to this conclusion after collecting used sponges from households in Villingen-Schwenningen, Germany, a city near Zurich. As the researchers write in Nature Scientific Reports, they asked the 14 houses that gave them sponges to describe how they were used—how many people in the house handled them, how often they used them, how often they replaced them, and if they ever tried to clean them.

Analyzing DNA and RNA found on those sponges, they found a total of 362 different bacterial species living on them. The sheer number of the bacterial colonies was staggering—some 82 billion total bacteria were living in a cubic inch of sponge. (As co-author Markus Egert told the Times, that’s similar to what you’d find in your poop.)

As the researchers discovered by analyzing the bacteria found on sponges whose users said they regularly cleaned them, disinfecting a sponge using a microwave, vinegar, or a dishwasher is worse than useless. It seems that when you attempt to clean a sponge, you kill off some bacteria, but in doing so, you provide an environment for the worst species of bacteria to thrive. Sponges that were regularly cleaned had higher concentrations of bacteria like Moraxella osloensis, which can cause infections in humans. (Though it’s unclear how likely you are to get infected by your sponge.) It’s also the reason dirty laundry smells. By microwaving your sponge, you’re probably just making it smellier.

Sadly, there’s not much you can do about your dirty sponge except throw it away. You can recycle it to use as part of your cleaning routine in the bathroom or somewhere else where it’s far away from your food, but the best way to get a clean sponge, it seems, is to just buy a new one. May we suggest the Scrub Daddy?

[h/t The New York Times]

It 'Rained' Spiders in Brazil Last Week—and You Can Watch It If You Dare

iStock.com/aury1979
iStock.com/aury1979

If recent events are anything to go by, you should be less concerned about swallowing spiders in your sleep and more concerned about bird-eating spiders raining down on your head. As The Guardian reports, recent footage from the Brazilian countryside shows thousands of spiders seemingly suspended in mid-air. (Arachnophobes might want to give the video below a miss.)

In reality, they aren’t falling at all. The spiders, which likely belong to a South American species called Parawixia bistriata, are merely crawling on an ultra-fine and nearly invisible web that attaches to two objects, like trees or bushes, to form a canopy.

So why do they do it? To catch prey, naturally. They’re likely to snag a variety of insects and maybe even small birds in their communal web, which can stretch up to 13 feet wide. (And yes, they eat the birds, too.)

Brazilian biology professor Adalberto dos Santos tells The Guardian that P. bistriata are some of the rare “social” spiders that do this. They leave their webs up overnight, hide out in the nearby vegetation, and then return at dawn to feast.

While this natural phenomenon is certainly unsettling, it isn’t exactly rare. Residents of the southeast municipality of Espírito Santo do Dourado, where the video was shot, said these “spider rains” are common when the weather is hot and humid.

Here’s another video from Santo Antônio da Platina in southern Brazil in 2013.

Other species of spider have been known to jump into the wind and "surf" on strands of silk as a means of getting around. They do this to escape threats or get to food or mates in other locations, and cases of "spider flight" have been recorded all over the world. Some especially adventurous spiders have even been known to cross oceans by “ballooning” their way from one land mass to the next.

[h/t The Guardian]

Former NASA Engineer Builds Farting Glitter Bomb to Teach Porch Pirates a Lesson

Mark Rober, YouTube
Mark Rober, YouTube

If you’re looking to exact revenge on the porch pirate who stole your Amazon package, look no further than YouTuber Mark Rober’s clever tactic. As The Verge reports, the former NASA engineer disguised a seemingly ordinary package as a “glitter bomb” and planted it on his porch. Then he sat back and waited for someone to take the bait. You can see the hilarious results in the video below.

It all started when Rober’s security cameras captured someone stealing a package from his porch, but the police told him an official investigation wouldn't be worth their time. So he decided to opt for some vigilante justice instead.

He had technical know-how on his side, having previously constructed things like a hot tub filled with liquid sand and a dart board that moves to ensure you'll always get a bullseye.

This time around, he decided to celebrate the thief’s “choice of profession” with a “cloud of glitter.” While Rober admits he could have just used a simple spring-loading mechanism for the task, also wanted to capture the thief's reaction on camera.

He spent six months working on the design and outfitted the box with motion sensors, a GPS tracker, and four cell phones with wide-angle cameras. All of this would ensure that the thief was caught on camera, no matter which angle they opened the box from.

The technology inside the box is probably worth more than your average Amazon order, so he also installed some fart spray for good measure. It continues to release five sprays of the foul-smelling stuff every 30 seconds, practically guaranteeing that any thief would throw away the package before they realized what it contained. (Spoiler alert: That's exactly what happened.) Then, using the GPS trackers, Rober could recover it and reuse the device.

Even if he didn't get his package back, it's designed to automatically upload the footage to the cloud, where Rober could watch it.

The whole package is designed to look like an Apple HomePod. And, because Rober was having fun with the little details, he slapped a fake delivery label on the box. The sender? Kevin McCallister of Home Alone fame, who inspired the project, Rober says.

He had the chance to test it out on a few unsuspecting thieves, and you can watch their hilarious reactions in the video below.

[h/t The Verge]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER