How to Sterilize a Kitchen Brush

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Commonly used items such as sponges and brushes can become laden with bacteria, mold and mildew and must be thrown away eventually. Or must they? By performing a sterilization on your kitchen cleaning equipment, you can stretch out their service life and your investment. There are several successful sterilization procedures that can be used independently or in tandem to maximize the chance of total sterilization.

Things You'll Need

  • Cooking pot
  • Bleach
  • Microwave
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Clean any debris away from the brush surfaces and bristles. Small pieces of food and other debris will promote microbial growth and increase sterilization times in chemical sterilization treatments. Pull the bristles apart from one another and carefully inspect all crevices.

  • Fill a cooking pot with water. Set the pot onto the stove and set to heat on high, and put the lid on the pot. When the water is boiling rapidly, drop your brush into the water and re-close the lid. Allow the brush to boil for at least 20 minutes. The high heat of the boiling water will kill a large number of microorganisms.

  • Put the drain plug in your kitchen sink and place the brush into the sink. Add a couple inches of water so the brush is soaking. Open a jug of bleach and pour in a couple cups, or more, depending on the brush's condition. Bleach attacks the protein structures of bacteria and other microorganisms. Allow the brush to soak in the bleach water for at least 20 minutes. Remove the brush and rinse thoroughly before using.

  • Soak your brush until it is completely wet, and place in the microwave. According to engineers from the University of Florida, microwaving items like sponges and scrubbers sterilizes them quickly and effectively. Set the microwave timer to 2 to 2 ½ minutes, keeping an eye to make sure the brush remains wet. Never microwave the brush dry.

  • Pour a bottle of rubbing alcohol into a large bowl. Use the highest concentration of alcohol to water you can acquire. Rubbing alcohol is an effective agent for killing bacterial and viral agents, and is commonly used by surgeons to disinfect their instruments and hands. Place the brush into the alcohol and allow to soak for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove and rinse completely before use.

Tips & Warnings

  • For professional sterilization, home autoclaves can be purchased. Autoclaves are expensive, but clean by a combination of high-heat steam and pressure.
  • Bleach is caustic and can damage the skin. Always wear gloves when using bleach. Rubbing alcohol is flammable. Never use around open flame.

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