Sunday, March 04, 2007

Sterilizing sponges in a desi kitchen

So in the recent past there were many reports out there about how microwaving is efficient to sterilize kitchen sponges.

Now while this is indeed an efficient technique to kill all the offensive buggers hiding in your sponges, it is also a fire hazard if the sponge dries while you are nuking it. (Thus warn the people who did the study)

So, is there an alternative way of killing those offensive critters?

Yes, there is.

The answer is your generic pressure cooker.Yes, I know it is a more labor intensive and time consuming method than simply nuking your sponge, but at the same time you can sterilize it without using any chemicals that might be harmful if not completely removed from the sponges before using them in the kitchen.

I am certainly not saying its an amazing thing you should do regularly (while I will), but hey, its a fun way to apply lab know how in the kitchen.

I got the obvious idea while stocking my labware into the autoclave, which works in the exact same principle as the pressure cooker. (ie: 15 psi pressure causes steam to reach 121 C, which sterilizes lab ware efficiently/cooks food much faster)

So I tried this technique on 3 handi wipes and 2 sponges, all put together in a pressure cooker with enough water to submerge the items. Ek seeti bajaao and you are done. As proven in my lab ( kitchen) the items do survive the cooker seeti, and can be successfully re-used after pressure cooking This can be a problem in certain plastics which are heat sensitive. However handi wipes and regular sponges do pass the test. That the sterilization was achieved is of course, assumed, as I don't have a petri dish and an incubator to perform the test at home.

I believe the pressure cooker is also used by several doctors in India to sterilize equipment in places where an autoclave is not accessible and disposable equipment is not easy to obtain.So I don't see why critters in sponges will be able to survive the heat.

Ah.. the joys of balancing homemaking and research..


manuscrypts said...

lol..who let you out??!!

Sqrl/TA said...

:D Manu, This is my mad scientist persona coming through...

Anonymous said...

Is there a better way to wash and disinfect plastic?

Sqrl/TA said...


Dishwaher gets plastic quite clean. For added peace of mind, add some water into the plastic and nuke it for 1 mintue in the microwave.

Would not recommend seetee bajaving plastic, though dont see why not.

Patrix said...

You better get a paper published in Nature too :)

Sqrl/TA said...

eh blog kya nature kya, its published now :D