dirty sponges.jpg

I hate sponges. The kitchen kind. The sea creatures are fine by me, and shower sponges and loofas are cool, too. (A girl needs to exfoliate.) But kitchen sponges, sitting soggy beside the sink, stewing in the accumulated foody-filth of numerous counter-wipings and dish-scrubbings, are awful.

When I clean my kitchen, sometimes I'll avoid wiping down the counter for a day or two. (Or three.) Just to keep from coming anywhere near that sponge.

And it isn't that I don't change them or something. I'm more aware of and paranoid about the bacteria festering in the folds than most. I change my sponges frequently. Because the smell gets to me. Sometimes I can swear I can smell the damn things from three rooms away. Coffee grounds, bacon grease, yogurt congealed around the morning's granola.

Right now there's a fine dusting of flour on the counter beside the sink from the pizza dough I made for dinner on Monday. When I do get around to cleaning it, I'll likely use paper towels instead. Just because.

(The way the sponge collapses on itself and expands again in the palm of my hand, like something with lungs... I just don't trust it.)

You're judging me now, aren't you? What kind of slob leaves her counters covered with gunk and residue for days at a time?

I'm covered in shame.

But I hate sponges. Those colors! Who are the sponge manufacturers kidding? Neon. Pastel. Primary. It's all downhill from the moment you tear off the plastic packaging. They fade. They turn brownish-grayish-purplish. They fill with grit; shred in places. On the brillo-pad side, bits of burnt chicken and raspberry seeds get caught in the webbing. Snarled in there like burrs.

It's sick. Yet, I know I've got to do it. We can't continue to live with our kitchen in a state of squalor. (Eventually, someone will visit us again, and I'll have to fake cleanliness for the sake of public opinion.) So, here I go.

It is a far, far grosser thing I now do than I have ever done. It is a far, far smellier, more putrid place I now go to than I have ever been.

And I do this under protest.