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I'll bet there's no name for this phobia

So I was just now noticing that my kitchen sponge, although new and not worn out at all, is kind of stinky. And I thought I'd tell you a little something about me you probably didn't know, but would find amusing when paired with the anecdote that follows.

I hate sponges. Mind you, I do use them...although it's likely if someone pointed out a different way I could do things I might take up a new way of doing things. I already use cloth handkerchiefs, a habit I picked up when I was about 16, and probably an oddity. I already use the heck out of my kitchen towels rather than using paper towels, which basically I use to mop up cat puke, but little other than that.

But the dreaded dish sponge. Eeeew. I wonder if my aversion began at my first job after grad school. I was an executive assistant at a design firm where my boss was always drunk. And one day he told me I needed to run the dish sponge through the dishwasher because it was full of bacteria. At first I thought he might be drunkenly kidding. But then I realized he was serious.

I wonder if that scarred me.

I have never lived in a house with a functional dishwasher, and frankly if I had one wish-list item, a dishwasher it would be--since I do a lot of cooking from scratch, which in turn creates a lot of dishes. Plus it would deal with that nasty sponge issue.

I've noticed that if I moisten (eewww) the stinky sponge and then cook it in the microwave for a couple of minutes, it smells a bit better. Although the scent of cooking sponge permeates the kitchen. But I conclude that the microwave zap has killed some sponge bacteria.

Okay, so here's the anecdote I promised you.

Ten years ago, I had this grand scheme to move from Chicago to Wisconsin and become a writer. All the research I've done suggests that the cost of living in Wisconsin is much lower, but I move here and, surprise! It's not.

So I see a nearby job opening at a library I've been to that seems friendly enough, and I apply. And weirdly enough, I get that job.

What's one of the first things they tell me? "Oh, here's a ziploc bag of letter-shaped sponges that goes out with a kit we check out to homeschoolers. Could you rinse those out?"


Oh God. They're MOIST.

(I could tell you how happy I am to no longer have a day job, but I doubt I can convey the depth of that sentiment in writing.)



( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 11th, 2011 10:18 pm (UTC)
I am the exact opposite of OC about stuff, and I will tell you that your aversion to dish sponges is justified. They are probably the dirtiest (nasty bacteria-wise) item in most people's homes. Much worse than anything in the bathroom, for instance. Dish towel runs second unless you replace it every couple of days. Not sure that this applies to sponges used for kids projects, though.

Microwave or a squirt of bleach, if you don't have a dishwasher.

Ooog. Hope I didn't take your post too seriously, but really. ICK!
Feb. 11th, 2011 10:47 pm (UTC)
Ha ha, no, you're not taking a lighthearted post too seriously, I do think dish sponges are foul. Maybe I need a system that involves bleach water and a regular microwave schedule.

I think I read the kitchen drain is the nastiest (bacteria-wise) place in the house. So you KNOW important things fall in there, and I think, "Oh god..."
Feb. 11th, 2011 10:20 pm (UTC)
Oh that is hilarious!!

I don't really have any phobias, not like my daughter who won't drink milk on (or after) its expiration date at all. But, I don't eat chicken legs (drumbsticks) because of a vein incident that happened... at least 30 years ago. And, if I get it in my head that something smells 'off', I wont' eat it. Even if I know it's fresh. I've thrown more meat out from that...

But, ew, stinky sponge is bad.
Feb. 11th, 2011 10:49 pm (UTC)
Ha ha, I think raw chicken is another one of those culturally ingrained cooties! Totally!

Have you ever had food poisoning? I have once. And honestly whenever I say, "Hm, I wonder if this is okay?" I remember that and I think it's better to err on the side of caution.

I don't like chicken veins...however, luckily, I've never had an incident.
Feb. 11th, 2011 10:31 pm (UTC)
I detest mop sponges. Now those are stinky and icky. Yay, for Swiffer mops ;o)
Feb. 11th, 2011 10:51 pm (UTC)
How funny, I recently got a new stringy mop, but I used in once and suspected it needed a different technique. (My spongey mops always fell right apart.) And I considered LOOKING UP ANOTHER MOPPING TECHNIQUE online. Haven't done it yet though.
Feb. 11th, 2011 11:28 pm (UTC)
Swiffer mops aren't bad as you get rid of the dirty icky 'pad' after mopping. So no stinkiness.
Feb. 11th, 2011 10:36 pm (UTC)
I use dishclothes, which get washed regularly.

And I use silk hankies, because they don't turn to soggy messes in your pocket. :)
Feb. 11th, 2011 10:55 pm (UTC)
OMG a hankie user! YAY!!!!!!

I don't know too many.

I'm allergic to a lot of stuff and I blow my nose all the time. When I need to use a paper-pulp product to blow my nose in, I feel like it leeches the oils out of my skin and is nowhere near as absorbent as a cloth hankie, but if I'm sick I will use a paper tissue.

My hankies are mostly all 20 years old and super soft/worn. I've never tried silk! Interesting! I did recently find some new cotton hankies at the Land's End catalog return outlet so I'm trying to break those in. But they still have that "new" stigma.
Feb. 11th, 2011 10:42 pm (UTC)
Huh. Yeah, probably not a name for that. I've never run my sponge through the dishwasher. But I've never noticed it smell much. But now you've made me paranoid and I'll be running it through next time. :-)

I couldn't live anymore without a dishwasher.
Feb. 11th, 2011 10:56 pm (UTC)
When I was responsible for buying the office stuff I made sure to buy sponges on sticks so I wouldn't have to touch the office dishwashing sponge. Eeew.

Next place MUST have a dishwasher. It's a quality of life issue, I think.
Feb. 11th, 2011 11:01 pm (UTC)
Eww, yup. I'm with you. I hate sponges, too. Sometimes they actually go slimey...

I'm happy enough to wash the dishes and what not using them, but the amount of cleaning I put my hands through after... I then use a ton of moisturiser.

Here's an anecdote about kids and toys in public places:

When I worked in a bank here, the branch I worked in had a Lego table. Kids that came into the bank with their parents could sit at the table and build things while waiting. This must have been when banking took a long time. Anyway, one day one of the little darlings threw up in the Lego container that was in the middle of the table...

NO! I did not have to clean it.
Feb. 11th, 2011 11:16 pm (UTC)
When I worked in a bank here, the branch I worked in had a Lego table.

EEEW, I was grossed out before you even got to the vomit part. Luckily the childrens' librarian assistant cleans that damn thing. All those kids are always putting them in their spitty mouths.

I wonder who they got to clean that Lego table, haha? Obviously SOMEONE had to do it!

When I worked at the library it was typical for kids to puke in the line to see Santa. Overstimulated, don'tcha know?
Feb. 11th, 2011 11:27 pm (UTC)
One of the lovely part time employees - they usually only work during the busy periods - cleaned it out. All us younger ones without children, and the men, of course, didn't want to go anywhere near it. I remember it. She rolled her eyes and said "Oh, for God's sake..." and just did it. One of the girls was spraying around a lot of perfumed body spray. LOL
Feb. 11th, 2011 11:45 pm (UTC)
Not to go all sappy on it or anything, but I'll bet that didn't work to her advantage in any way. Because we all know the president of the bank likely wouldn't have cleaned it up.

I think common sense and gumption should account for most everything. I wonder if that's what Starving Years will turn out to be about.

(In 10 years I did a hell of a lot of "oh for God's sake." usually when a toilet plugged.) In one funny incident my boyfriend showed up just as I was donning the huge rubber gloves and plunger. Never a dull moment.
Feb. 12th, 2011 12:19 am (UTC)
She might have received a thank you. If i'd had to do it, there would have been even more mess - I've never been good with that kind of thing. Still not.

There is a lot to be said for gumption and common sense. It would make sense if Starving Years did turn out logical like that, but...
Feb. 12th, 2011 12:57 am (UTC)
Starving years is fiction. In real life all the dullards and morons come out on top ;-)
Feb. 12th, 2011 12:06 am (UTC)
You and sponges... me and carpeting. :::: shudder :::: Think of all the dirt and germs and gross stuff smashed deep into the fibers, trapped. Shampooing carpets does NOT get every disgusting particle out of the mat or pile or padding. Yuck!

You can also boil sponges for a few minutes. If you put some vinegar in the boiling water, it helps get rid of the smell in the sponge while the heat disinfects. Of course, then your kitchen smells like vinegar... Hmmmmm.

- Suz
Feb. 12th, 2011 12:55 am (UTC)
And this is how phobias breed! Yes, carpet! Ew!
Feb. 12th, 2011 12:14 am (UTC)
If you don't have a dishwasher, zapping your sponge in the microwave definitely helps. (If you do, run your sponge through with the dishes on a regular basis.)

On the other hand, if you're concerned about kitchen bacteria, you SHOULD be using paper towels. Kitchen towels are the second-nastiest exposed item in most kitchens. Using paper towels, which are used once and disposed of, eliminates this issue. I use paper towels almost exclusively; my fabric kitchen towels are mostly used as pot-handle-holders while I'm cooking.
Feb. 12th, 2011 12:55 am (UTC)
I will endeavor to zap anything that touches my sink more often, because verily, I do believe you.
Feb. 12th, 2011 01:17 am (UTC)
You've just made me throw up a little in my mouth.
Feb. 12th, 2011 01:39 am (UTC)
Didn't they do that in your practicum?
Feb. 12th, 2011 04:23 am (UTC)
Ugh, I hate sponges too. I use a natural bristle brush for the washing up - it's brilliant, and you can replace the heads when they start getting manky.
Feb. 12th, 2011 10:53 am (UTC)
That's a good idea! I'll have to check out the brush selection next time I'm at the store. Way less nasty.
Feb. 13th, 2011 02:38 am (UTC)
1) "Moist" is by far the most obscene-sounding word in the English language, bar none.

2) I hate sponges. HATE. They feel creepy MOIST right out of the package, dirt and bacteria clings to them worse than Grace to Will, and they stink like a little tiny Dumpster inside of a week of opening the package. Just . . . no. From the time I parted with my birth family for digs of my own, I have been a dedicated Handi-Wipes boy, using a disposable square of Scotch-Brite for the more difficult (e.g., burnt-on macaroni-and-cheese) tasks.
Feb. 13th, 2011 08:41 pm (UTC)
I think, sir, you surpass me in the hatred of sponges! (I've never met anyone more grossed out.)

I have always wondered about them being moist in the package. Clearly it's deliberate, but to what purpose? I doubt any of us know a sponge manufacturer to ask! And if we did, they'd probably be like, "Oh, you're those freaks who are afraid of sponges."
( 27 comments — Leave a comment )

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