I have a pretty significant aversion to kitchen germiness: show me a wet sponge at the bottom of a sink, and I'll show you a bacteria-fest that needs to be disposed of, like, immediately. (Don't even get me started on the sponge that sits in our communal kitchen sink at work - that thing is a form of bio-warfare I wouldn't touch using a 10' pole and wearing a hazmat suit. Public sponges, like public bars of soap, just shouldn't exist. Period.)
Unfortunately, sponges are made to be recycled (though thankfully for only so long), and I've been forced to live with the knowledge that, no matter what I do, a 3.5" x 6" porous, squishy block of bacteria is in/next to my kitchen sink at all hours just teeming with icky germiness (nights can be sleepless living with information like this).
I never thought much of my sponge aversion until a trip home to Kansas City earlier this year (I mean, who is to question an affinity to clean sponges?), when my parents were appalled (or perhaps just amused?) with my level of germophobia when it came to the kitchen sponge:
"You don't have a backup sponge?? This needs to be replaced immediately." I quipped in disgust, holding up -- as gingerly and non-contacty as possible -- a wet, bacteria-laden ScotchBrite that had been buried at the bottom of a sink full of dishes from dinner. "Can't you at least... leave it on the counter?" I asked, tossing it onto the ceramic tile with mild satisfaction. In my warped world of germophobia, a gross sponge on the counter is way less gross than a gross sponge in a sink. It's night and day -- the difference between a sponge that can be salvaged and a sponge that must be sacrificed. When possible, I feel it's my duty to "save" a sponge from its doomed fate and plop it ever-so-delicately on a counter surface.
"Kate, we just opened that sponge last week. It's fine. Relax, will you?"
It was not fine. And no, I would not relax.
After returning to New York, I also returned to my old ways of changing out the sponge more frequently than I buy paper towels, and I forgot all about that incident in Kansas City. Apparently my parents did not.
And how lucky am I that they did not?! While on a recent trip to Provence, my parents happened upon an adorable ceramic sponge holder (a cache éponge or porte éponge, if you will - it sounds so much sexier and more sophisticated in French) and bought three: one for me, one for themselves and one for a friend. Only one made it back alive through the treacherous cross-Atlantic flight and baggage claim, and my parents lovingly and sacrificially gave the sole survivor to me.
I was only mildy offended that they gave it to me "because you hate sponges and sponges touching anything and all." Offended or not, I couldn't wait to take that cute little sponge holder out for a spin. And sponge holder it was! Little did I know it would totally transform my kitchen experience. That little thing is truly.... dare I say... sponge-worthy. Not all sponge holders are created equal, and this one stands up to the challenge. It keeps my sponges perky and elevated above the muck (seriously, I can't describe it, but it's as if my sponge now stands at attention - like it's a little more confident than it used to be). Plus my sponge holder keeps my previously nude sponge swathed in cute French garb: my cache éponge is a dark yellow "huile d'olive" holder that makes the rest of my kitchen sink accoutrements a little bit
Like many great things, these cute little sponge holders don't seem to be terribly available in the US (just Google "sponge holder" and see the atrocious things being sold at places like the Container Store -- sponge-worthy, they are not). While I can't find an exact replica of the one that now craddles my happily germy sponge, I did find this Eponge Magique Retro Style Sponge Holder (pictured above) and this Bistrot de Paris Retro Style Sponge Holder, both $14.99, at an adorable French- and Italian-inspired web shop called Touch of Europe. I'm mildly obsessed with this Porte éponge J'aime Nettoyer Fox Trot from Ctendance.fr, 9,00 €, and this Cache éponge, BODEGA from hémisphere-sud.fr, 10,00€, but unfortunately they don't ship to the US! If you're interested, I can try to figure out a loophole.
My advice? Get yourself a sponge-worthy sponge holder. The holder helps keep your sponge fresh, allowing it to last a little longer than before. If you're at all like me, you'll probably still change out your kitchen sponge a lot (but less than before), and you'll sleep better knowing you've contained that germy mess of a bacteria-fest and made your kitchen a little cuter in the process. Plus, your sponge will be happier and more confident too. Which means (s)he'll do this dishes with more gusto.
Happy germ containing!
I am an artist/designer and former financial professional with a background in comparative literature, business and design. I live in New York with my overworked lawyer husband and my two boys Michael and Theo and spend much of my free time dreaming about how to enhance the aesthetics of our little world. I am endlessly inspired and always in search of something new. This is a blog about my search, my inspiration and things I just really, really like or want.