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

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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]

South Carolina Coroner Swears Local Dairy Queen Burgers Are Not Made of Human Flesh

Ocskaymark/iStock via Getty Images
Ocskaymark/iStock via Getty Images

Summer may be cooling down, but America's fast food wars are just heating up. While Popeyes and Chick-fil-A continue to debate who sells the best chicken sandwich (editor's note: let's not leave Publix's chicken tender sub out of the mix), a Dairy Queen in Greenwood, South Carolina, has been forced to fight back against a slate of recent claims that their burgers are made of ... people. Just how did these rumors get started? It's complicated.

Complex reports that last week, the FBI, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and state law enforcement officials raided several businesses in South Carolina's Greenwood, Abbeville, and Orangeburg counties—the Greenwood Dairy Queen being one of them. The officials were acting on a complaint that two men were operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, and they did reportedly find $200,000 in an unlocked safe at the Greenwood DQ. Though the name of that DQ's manager, Saif Momin, came up in the initial investigation into the financial crime, authorities have made it clear that Momin has not been charged with any crime, nor were any of his 18 employees in any way connected to the raid. But none of that is the strange part of this story.

In the wake of the raids, dozens of rumors began flying about what the FBI was looking into at the local ice cream franchise. That's when a corporate inspector informed Momin that, in what appears to be a separate incident, someone had lodged a complaint about “human meat being inside a burger” at the same DQ. It didn't take long for social media to catch on, and use Twitter as a platform for confirming whether or not there was a Soylent Green-like situation happening.

Even after Dairy Queen confirmed that their burgers are 100 percent beef and zero percent human being, the matter wasn't quite over. The continued public outcry led the Index-Journal, a local news outlet, to enlist the expertise of Greenwood County coroner Sonny Cox, who seemed taken aback by the question itself.

"I promise you, I’ve never had anything of that nature asked of me," Cox said. "I’ve never suspected anything like that. I can honestly say that’s the first I’ve heard of it, and I don’t see any validity in that at all. There’s little to no chance of anything like that ever being able to happen."

Momin echoed Cox's statement, telling the Index-Journal: "If that was the case, they already would have shut me down."

In November 2018, the Department of Health and Environmental Control gave Momin's store an A grade and a score of 97 percent. So it seems highly unlikely that your FlameThrower GrillBurger has any ground human meat in it—though it's certainly not the first time fast food burgers have undergone a thorough analysis.

Cannibalism accusations aside, one positive thing to come from this story is a reminder of the importance of local journalism.

‘Water’ in Kansas City Woman’s Ear Turned Out to Be a Venomous Brown Recluse Spider

N-sky/iStock via Getty Images
N-sky/iStock via Getty Images

Susie Torres, a resident of Kansas City, Missouri, woke up on Tuesday morning with the distinct feeling that water was lodged in her left ear. She likened it to the swooshing sensation that can often happen after swimming, WDAF-TV reports.

Instead of waiting for the problem to resolve itself, Torres went to the doctor—a decision that might have saved her from some serious pain. The medical assistant was the first to realize something was alarmingly amiss, and immediately called for backup.

“She ran out and said ‘I’m going to get a couple more people,’” Torres told 41 Action News. “She then said, ‘I think you have an insect in there.’” For many people, the thought of having any live insect stuck in an ear would be enough to cue a small- or large-scale freak-out, but Torres stayed calm.

The doctors “had a few tools and worked their magic and got it out,” Torres said. The “it” in question turned out to be a spider—and not just any harmless house spider (which you shouldn’t kill, by the way). It was a venomous brown recluse spider.

“Gross,” Torres told WDAF-TV. “Why, where, what, and how.”

Miraculously, the spider didn’t bite Torres. If it had, she would’ve ended up visiting the doctor with more than general ear discomfort: Brown recluse bites can cause pain, burning, fever, nausea, and purple or blue discoloration of the surrounding skin, according to Healthline.

Torres may have remained admirably level-headed throughout the ordeal, but that doesn’t mean she’s taking it lightly. “I went and put some cotton balls in my ears last night,” she told WDAF-TV. “I’m shaking off my clothes, and I don’t put my purse on the floor. I’m a little more cautious.”

Is this the first time an insect has posted up in the ear of an unsuspecting, innocent human? Absolutely not—here are six more horror stories, featuring a cockroach, a bed bug, and more.

[h/t WDAF-TV]

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