There’s some debate whether sponges or dish towels are the more hygienic option for kitchen tasks – but either will become a hotbed of unwanted bacteria if you don’t care for them properly.
If you wash dishes daily, you should replace your sponge at least once a month. To keep your sponge in tip-top shape during its lifespan, put it through a hot cycle in your dishwasher every few days. Otherwise, soak it in hot water and bleach.
Always make sure to wring out your sponge after use and store it in a dry location – and never use your sponge to wipe up meat juices, unless you plan to throw it out straight after.
Dish towels are not necessarily more hygienic than sponges – bacteria aren’t picky about what warm, moist surface they breed on. Wash dish towels frequently in the washing machine on a hot cycle – don’t wait until they’re damp, dirty and smelly. Hang them out to dry, in direct sunlight, as soon as they’re clean.
Try to use different dish towels for different tasks – one for drying the dishes, one for drying your (clean) hands and one for wiping the counter, for example. And buy towels in different colours, so that you know exactly which to use when.