Random household science question

pariahjane
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Random household science question

Let me preface this by saying I am not a science person.  I'm trying, I've been trying and there are just some things I can't seem to get through my head.  Science in general is one of them.

Anyway - dumb science question.  The smelly dish sponge.  I know it stinks because of bacteria and what not and that nuking it for 2 minutes will kill everything but here is my question.  Can the type of dish detergent make it smell worse?  Need help settling an argument.

For months we've used organic, all natural dish detergent called 7th Generation or something.  The sponge NEVER smelled.  Three weeks ago we switched to Dawn Anti-Bacterial and the fucking thing stinks all the time.  I have to nuke it every other day and we're on our third sponge. We don't eat meat and we practically live off of vegetables, beans and frozen food.  I think it would be logical to say that the chemicals in the new detergent are screwing something up, but shouldn't anti-bacterial turn are sponge into a bacteria killing artillery?  Why does it stink?  Why didn't it stink when we used the nice hippie organic shit?

I think the anti-bacterial stuff is turning our sponge into a bacteria breeding ground.  The BF thinks that the organic stuff didn't actually clean the dishes in the first place.  (It isn't nice what couples argue about?)

Anyway, before you guys razz me too much about this (and trust me, I realize this is a retarded question) - any ideas? 

 

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IIRC, a critique of the

IIRC, a critique of the routine use of anti-bacterial soaps leads to the selective breeding of resistant strains of bacteria. The survivors of the hygenociide are immune to the anti-bacterial agents, and further generations will be restricted to bacteria so immune, because the weaker ones have been killed off.

That's what I'd heard, anyway.


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Oh, duh!  That makes

Oh, duh!  That makes sense.  While the anti-bacterial agent kills off some bacteria it doesn't kill off everything so there will always be bacteria on the sponge. 

Wait, does that mean I'm right - that the organic detergent is better for us?  lol.  

 Thank you Magilum!!  Smiling

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Personally, I use a brush

Personally, I use a brush on my dishes and I put it in the dishwasher along with the load everytime...

i'm not claiming that sponges are just like hands but my ID doctor tells me only to use those antibiotic soaps when i am going to be doing something critical - like changing a bandage - and to use the "normal" soap the rest of the time. 


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I read somewhere that

I read somewhere that putting brushes and sponges in the dishwasher only cleans them but doesn't disinfect them. I don't have a dishwasher anyway Smiling

I don't like to use anti-bacterial anything.  The only concession I make to my anti-anti-bacterial is when I'm on the subway and touch something that feels extra disgusting.  Like a wet pole.  Or worse.  Then I decontaminate immediately rather than waiting until I get to work.  Other than that I just wash my hands with regular soap. 

I think that using too much anti-bacterial soap screws with your immune system.  Just my opinion. 

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pariahjane wrote: I read

pariahjane wrote:

I read somewhere that putting brushes and sponges in the dishwasher only cleans them but doesn't disinfect them. I don't have a dishwasher anyway Smiling

I can believe that.  My dishwasher runs at 140 degrees and last I heard water boils at 212.  Good thing I replace it once in a while.  

 


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From

From here:

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/germs-in-kitchen

 

Zap away bugs.
Kitchen sponges are the No. 1 source of germs in the whole house. Why? The moist, micro-crevices that make a sponge such an effective cleaning device also make it a cozy home for germs and more difficult to disinfect. Wiping your counters or dishes with a dirty sponge will only transfer the bacteria from one item to another. "Wet your sponge and then pop it in the microwave for two minutes to eliminate the germs that lurk inside the crevices," says Neil Schachter, MD, medical director of respiratory care at Mount Sinai in New York City, and the author of The Good Doctor's Guide to Colds and Flu.

 

But i don't know shit about science, this is what the experts say.

 


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Very hot water kills

Very hot water kills everything.

I would consider a dish rag instead of a sponge.  Nuke it in water every couple of days, and run it through the wash with regular clothes from time to time.

As for dish detergent, things to consider:

1) "Organic" doesn't mean shit because there are not strict enough regulations or even definitions of it yet.

2) Regular dish detergent does contain a lot of chemicals which might, depending on the brand, contribute to odor.

3) Anti-bacterial stuff is bad for everyday household use.

 

Also, consider the following:

1) The incidence of food borne illness from chicken in restaurants is about 1:20000

2) The incidence of food borne illness is higher in restaurants than in homes.

3) Contrary to popular belief, the majority of food borne illness results in mild to moderate discomfort for a few hours to a day or so.  You are about 100 times more likely to be in bed for three days from a waterskiing accident than food borne illness.

4) If you have few (if any) meat products on your dishes, you lessen your chance of contamination a LOT.

Bottom line, I think is that you don't need to be going to so much trouble.  Just wash everything thoroughly with a good regular soap, use a dishwasher for really hot water, or nuke stuff that you're particularly worried about.  Once water boils, there's no more bacteria.

 

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pariahjane wrote:

pariahjane wrote:

Oh, duh! That makes sense. While the anti-bacterial agent kills off some bacteria it doesn't kill off everything so there will always be bacteria on the sponge.

Wait, does that mean I'm right - that the organic detergent is better for us? lol.

Thank you Magilum!! Smiling

What Magilum posted is a most likely answer. Also don't forget that not all bacteria are harmful, some microorganisms consume other microorganisms and/or their food source thus maintaining a naturally low and harmless population, antibacterial products don't discriminate the finer details of microecology and can help a smelly or dangerous bacteria to breed up hugely by killing the competition off. Kitchen antibacterials aren't good for everday use, disinfecting an environment only really works when it's done vigorously and thoroughly. The organic product is probably a really basic soap detergent, as long as it's effectively cleaning (visibly) your dishes it's the better option for day to day.

 

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Hambydammit wrote: Very

Hambydammit wrote:

Very hot water kills everything.

I would consider a dish rag instead of a sponge. Nuke it in water every couple of days, and run it through the wash with regular clothes from time to time.

That's good advice, cloths are more hygenic than sponges.

 

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Thanks everyone for their

Thanks everyone for their advice.  I'm a bit... crazy when it comes to cleanliness in general so the stinky sponge was making me nuts, lol.

 I think I will try using a dish cloth instead of sponge.  I tried using the 'organic' aka 'natural' stuff because I'm so incredibly allergic to most chemcial (401, Tylex and Clorox sprays will literally shut my airways in a matter of seconds - Windex gives me hives) that I was hoping it would help.  I didn't break out from it but I also don't think it did the job. 

As an aside, you should see how much preparation (before and after) it takes for me to cook a chicken breast on the VERY rare occasion I do it.  It's absurd.  I am able to laugh at myself over this.  Smiling 

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Quote: ...I'm so incredibly

Quote:
...I'm so incredibly allergic to most chemcial (401, Tylex and Clorox sprays will literally shut my airways in a matter of seconds - Windex gives me hives) that I was hoping it would help.  I didn't break out from it but I also don't think it did the job.

There's a part of me that wishes many more people were like you.  There are a lot of really nasty chemicals in everyday products, and it doesn't have to be that way.  If more people reacted terribly to them, the world would be a better place, I think.

On a slightly unrelated note, I'll tell you the things that have improved my health the most in the last few years.

1) Gave up soda.  No coke, sprite, pepsi, etc.  The lone exception is that sometimes I put some ginger ale in my bourbon.  More often, I make my own ginger ale with fresh ginger, lime juice and club soda.

2) Switched to unsweet tea.  There's a pattern emerging, by the way... eliminating processed sugar.

3) Dessert, when I have it, is usually fruit based, as opposed to sugar based.

4) This one's a little tougher to explain.  I've been gradually eliminating processed food from my diet.  Veggies are made from fresh or frozen, mostly fresh.  No canned.  Meat, I get from local organic farmers, and have butchered locally.  You'd be surprised how affordable this is if you have a good freezer.  At most, you pay the same as you would for organic meat at Whole Foods, or someplace similar.  I don't eat fast food at all.  Haven't in eleven years.  Prepackaged shit is just that... shit.

5) Wine.  It works for the French.

 

This is still rather controversial, but the more I explore the food industry, the more I'm convinced that fat is not a significant contributor to ill health.  In other words, cooking with butter and olive oil aren't particularly bad for you.  I'm nearly convinced that processed food, sodium, and sugar are the primary culprits in America's fight with obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

 

Quote:
As an aside, you should see how much preparation (before and after) it takes for me to cook a chicken breast on the VERY rare occasion I do it.  It's absurd.

I'm sure it is.  Get yourself a separate cutting board.  Prep the chicken in one spot before you start to cook.  Use tongs to put it in the pan.  Toss the tongs and the cutting board in the sink.  Wash the prep surface under the board.  Wash your hands.  Done.

 

 

 

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Hambydammit wrote: There's

Hambydammit wrote:

There's a part of me that wishes many more people were like you.  There are a lot of really nasty chemicals in everyday products, and it doesn't have to be that way.  If more people reacted terribly to them, the world would be a better place, I think.

I became really concerned about chemicals around the house when I first started becoming allergic to them.  I have one friend who washes everything with hot water and vinegar.  Her house is immaculate.  The chemicals we use to clean effect our bodies, without a doubt.  Most people just don't react so adversely 

Quote:
On a slightly unrelated note, I'll tell you the things that have improved my health the most in the last few years.

1) Gave up soda.  No coke, sprite, pepsi, etc.  The lone exception is that sometimes I put some ginger ale in my bourbon.  More often, I make my own ginger ale with fresh ginger, lime juice and club soda.

2) Switched to unsweet tea.  There's a pattern emerging, by the way... eliminating processed sugar.

3) Dessert, when I have it, is usually fruit based, as opposed to sugar based.

4) This one's a little tougher to explain.  I've been gradually eliminating processed food from my diet.  Veggies are made from fresh or frozen, mostly fresh.  No canned.  Meat, I get from local organic farmers, and have butchered locally.  You'd be surprised how affordable this is if you have a good freezer.  At most, you pay the same as you would for organic meat at Whole Foods, or someplace similar.  I don't eat fast food at all.  Haven't in eleven years.  Prepackaged shit is just that... shit.

5) Wine.  It works for the French.

 

This is still rather controversial, but the more I explore the food industry, the more I'm convinced that fat is not a significant contributor to ill health.  In other words, cooking with butter and olive oil aren't particularly bad for you.  I'm nearly convinced that processed food, sodium, and sugar are the primary culprits in America's fight with obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

Agree 100%.  I'm not as strict as you though.  I occasionally eat fast food, never drink soda and try not to eat processed foods but it's very difficult and time consuming.  Takes practice.  And patience. 

I also agree about fat content.  I think the fact that we consume so much processed foods, sugars and carbs that that is what creates an unequal balance.  That doesn't mean I practice what I preach all the time though.  Smiling

 

 

 

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I don't eat processed foods

I don't eat processed foods whenever I can avoid them.  I'm allergic to iodized salt and that's in pretty much everything these days...

Funny thing though... while it is kinda a pain in the ass to go home and cook when I just want to zap some frozen shit and crash the food actually tastes much, much better.

I  never got so much personal satisfaction from a meal before.


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Yeah... I pretty much use

Yeah... I pretty much use nothing but Kosher salt, and sometimes sea salt.  Any American could go the rest of their life without putting a dash of iodized salt in any food, and would never get a goiter.

If you folks ever have some spare time, I highly recommend "The Man Who Ate Everything" by Jeffrey Steingarten.  He's the crotchety judge on Iron Chef America, the food critic for Vogue magazine, who also happens to be a Harvard Law grad.

Sharp fellow.

 

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good advice on all fronts

i personally have kinda a ocd kick when it come to my kitchen being clean i  go to sams or some other bulk out let and stock up on way to many sponges and cleaning stuff  so i rarly use a sponge more that twice if possible lol  i use bleach on a lot and others boiling water for any small items that can get nasty

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Evolved Morality wrote: i

Evolved Morality wrote:
i personally have kinda a ocd kick when it come to my kitchen being clean i go to sams or some other bulk out let and stock up on way to many sponges and cleaning stuff so i rarly use a sponge more that twice if possible lol i use bleach on a lot and others boiling water for any small items that can get nasty

I try not to create too much garbage so I don't want to use a sponge only once or twice.  And bleach will kill me, lol.  Just the scent will send me into a wicked asthma attack.   

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Evolved - I don't know how

Evolved - I don't know how I could ever justify the expense and waste of using a sponge twice for routine cleaning.  Wow... As far as stocking up on other "cleaning stuff," - I'm lead to assume you do this with more than just the sponges.  Are you only like this in the kitchen?


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yesh only in the kitchen

yes it only in the kitchen  its a OCD thing i well literally freak if its not clean  i am in culinary school and a clean kitchen is a personal must and always has been   i am very parden the term but anal about my kitchen being clean 

 

and  and i use the sponges in  occationally in  the garage or other cleaning use but in the kitchen 2-3 at most

 

 

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dawn detergent stink

Dawn detergent makes my sponge stink. It's awful. It does something chemically to the sponge and the only way to fix it is toss a perfectly good sponge. It's a stong bio-chemical smell and it makes my hand stink all day after using the sponge. I will NEVER use Dawn again or any dish detergent that uses a similar formula. I don't recall the brands, but I had this problem with another. Possibly Joy. But, alas, AJAX dish detergent does NOT do this. I am a loyal Ajax liquid detergent fan and pray they don't cheapen the formula like the other soap brands.


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my two cents:

Some detergents MAY have still have a lot of phosphates in them. I don't expect that many brands do now because the issues are well known. Phosphates are a good source of energy for microorganisms, and if there was a sponge soaked in a phosphate solution (along with the nutrients you scrub off your plates), it provides an excellent home for some sort "spongeous stinkophilius" bacteria. (I apologize in advance for any further attempts at humor)

Phosphate runoff from agriculture (fertilizers) is responsible for the large dead zone currently in the Gulf of Mexico. It starts as an algae bloom that dies out once the nutrients are gone, then the decay of the algae causes all the oxygen to be eliminated.


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Phosphates were found in

Phosphates were found in "dishwasher" detergent... I think the OP was refering specifically to dishwashing liquid (i.e. handwashing dishes) as she mentions not having a dishwasher.


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Your very close to correct

Your very close to correct on this, but there is one case that very hot water won't kill.

 

Thermoacidophiles are a form of Bacteria under the Archaea.

They survive best at temperatures above 80 C, some can even grow at 105 C.

 

There are no known parasitic archaea, but if you get water above 100 C it starts to evaporate (I believe)

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Vancouverman wrote:Dawn

Vancouverman wrote:
Dawn detergent makes my sponge stink. It's awful. It does something chemically to the sponge and the only way to fix it is toss a perfectly good sponge. It's a stong bio-chemical smell and it makes my hand stink all day after using the sponge. I will NEVER use Dawn again or any dish detergent that uses a similar formula. I don't recall the brands, but I had this problem with another. Possibly Joy. But, alas, AJAX dish detergent does NOT do this. I am a loyal Ajax liquid detergent fan and pray they don't cheapen the formula like the other soap brands.

 

It was Dawn detergent!!  That's really funny.  I'm back to using the organic stuff but maybe next time around I will try Ajax or something.  As long as it doesn't give me hives. 

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Marketing logic :P

Ahhh, I should have known better... I was thinking about the fact that almost all liquid dish detergents (for hand washing) are labeled "Phosphate-free". The assumption is that it is "new and improved" or better than the competing brand because the phosphates have been eliminated. Well, that's what you get when you assume, especially when marketing is involved.

Bad chemist... should know better.

Sorry, I have now new hypotheses on your smelly sponge. Just zap it in the microwave (while damp).


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bdebruler wrote:Ahhh, I

bdebruler wrote:
Ahhh, I should have known better... I was thinking about the fact that almost all liquid dish detergents (for hand washing) are labeled "Phosphate-free". The assumption is that it is "new and improved" or better than the competing brand because the phosphates have been eliminated. Well, that's what you get when you assume, especially when marketing is involved. Bad chemist... should know better. Sorry, I have now new hypotheses on your smelly sponge. Just zap it in the microwave (while damp).

I do zap the sponge in the microwave.  It actually works but the sponge should be pretty wet and you should nuke it for 2 minutes.  Oh, and don't be a moron like me and squeeze out the excess molten lava water all over your hands when it's finished.  Smiling

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Quote:Thermoacidophiles are

Quote:
Thermoacidophiles are a form of Bacteria under the Archaea.

LOL.  Important to remember if you're boiling sausages in hot springs.

Quote:
There are no known parasitic archaea, but if you get water above 100 C it starts to evaporate (I believe)

Well, you could simply raise the pressure in your washing machine, raising the boiling point of the water, but it does seem overkill, doesn't it?

 

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Hambydammit wrote: LOL. 

Hambydammit wrote:

 

LOL.  Important to remember if you're boiling sausages in hot springs.

Well, you could simply raise the pressure in your washing machine, raising the boiling point of the water, but it does seem overkill, doesn't it?

 

 

Yes, I often find myself boiling my sausages in hot springs, thats when they taste best... especially if there are old men sun bathing next to them. For some reason it makes them tastier. And there is no overkill, just getting the job done better Laughing out loud

 

I just felt like saying it because I actually knew something as fact for once! hah, I usually just think I know what i'm talking about so there is some doubt, but i'm pretty good at biology.

 

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magilum wrote:IIRC, a

magilum wrote:
IIRC, a critique of the routine use of anti-bacterial soaps leads to the selective breeding of resistant strains of bacteria. The survivors of the hygenociide are immune to the anti-bacterial agents, and further generations will be restricted to bacteria so immune, because the weaker ones have been killed off. That's what I'd heard, anyway.

 

Wow, just like HIV and those hospital-born bacterias!

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Just for giggles:Hambydammit

Just for giggles:

Hambydammit wrote:

1) "Organic" doesn't mean shit because there are not strict enough regulations or even definitions of it yet.

Organic means carbon based. Many sponges are carbon based. Heheh.

Quote:

2) Regular dish detergent does contain a lot of chemicals which might, depending on the brand, contribute to odor.

Solution: Use better chemicals.

Quote:

3) Anti-bacterial stuff is bad for everyday household use.

Solution: Buy a really big auto-clave.

Quote:

1) The incidence of food borne illness from chicken in restaurants is about 1:20000

2) The incidence of food borne illness is higher in restaurants than in homes.

Likely cause IMO: Lack of resistance to the multitude of strains of bacteria carried around and recombined by a lot more people.

Quote:

3) Contrary to popular belief, the majority of food borne illness results in mild to moderate discomfort for a few hours to a day or so. You are about 100 times more likely to be in bed for three days from a waterskiing accident than food borne illness.

4) If you have few (if any) meat products on your dishes, you lessen your chance of contamination a LOT.

Repeated consumption of undercooked turkey-burgers served me well during my dorm days. Now I have immune system like Soviet Union. Hairy, and fully of nuclear weapons.


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Hi, I'm a biotech by trade

Hi, I'm a biotech by trade and work as a medical scientist with a fair bit of experience in microbiology.

Chemicals are definately bad for you. Try to use them as little as possible. Bleach is definately bad for you. If you can smell a chemical, then it is in your lungs!

Now to the bacteria. Cleaning chemical companies love to overhype bacteria to sell their products. Your kitchen does not need to be sterile, just clean. Apart from some really nasty stuff, you body can actually cope with small doses of bacteria. (and as stated above, not all bacteria are bad anyway)

Sterile houses don't challenge the immune system and are contributing factors to the immune system going haywire (allergies, autoimmune disease).

Now to the question: different detergents contain different chemicals (even organic products are chemicals), which are different substrates  (food) for bacteria. This would mean slightly different bacterial populations. Also the end-products of bacterial metabolism (the bits that smell) would combine in different ways, producing different fragrances.

So... yes.

 

I use just normal detergent (Spree, it's relatively cheap). The purpose of detergent is to help fatty molecules disolve into water. This gets them off your plates, thus removing the substrate for the bacteria. It also helps stop bacteria sticking by disolving their polysaccharide capsules and breaking the bonds of their pili to the surface. Detergent will also kill bacteria, but that is not it's main function.

I rinse my sponge, then place it on my sink on top of a soap holder (the purpose is to allow airflow, it's chrome, looks nice). Drying will kill a high percentage of bacteria, those that survive can't do much because they are dry and relatively inert.

My sponge never smells. I only throw it out when it starts falling apart.

I rarely get sick and have never had food poisoning from home.

 

Consider this: when you make your food bacterial numbers are extremely low, you don't get sick when you eat it. So the dishes are dirty (with food) but they aren't actually unhygenicly bacteria ridden until you have left them moist for quite a while. So there is no need to go nuts trying to steralize them.

A simple clean and dry (even drip-dry) will make them clean enough to eat off again.

If you have left your lunch box in your bag for 2 days and it reeks... that is different. Still, make sure the water is hot and soapy, wash well (or i tend to do it at the end of my dishes load and then wash it again in clean water) rinse and dry. Your dishes just need to be clean, not sterile unless you plan on doing surgery with them Smiling

Lesson over, hope this helps.

PS: yes I prefer a sponge, I can never get all of the food bits out a chux cloth. My wife prefers a cloth, just treat it the same, let it dry. I do most of the dishes anyway Smiling

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While we're on the subject

While we're on the subject of chemicals, do any of you bio-chem types want to comment on saccharin, Diet Coke, and Gulf War Syndrome?  I just heard someone talking about this a couple of days ago, and it was the first I've heard of it.  I know that saccharin can change into something pretty bad for you, but I don't use any artificial sweeteners, so it's never been a big issue for me.

 

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