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Some people like to use a sponge for washing dishes. For years I avoided them, because they always became smelly. But even the green scouring pad became smelly, and I never liked it. I knew the smell was caused by bacteria, which was nasty.

For several years, I used the non-cellulose sponges, because they were more airy and dried out before the smell-inducing bacteria could grow. But I didn’t like them very much.

Then back in April we moved into a rental house, where we wait for our home the tree fell on to be fixed. There I started using small, cheap cellulose sponges, planning on washing them whenever they got smelly (since I could buy 6 for a dollar at the dollar store). But I noticed something: they didn’t get smelly. They would get stained and torn and eventually wear out, but they never got smelly. Even when I switched to bigger, two-sided cellulose/green scrubber sponges, the lack of smell continued, even when the sponges didn’t have time to dry out between uses.

Well, this week I finally figured it out. It’s the dish soap I’m using! Back in March, I started using Melaleuca’s Lemon Brite handwashing dish detergent, and I haven’t had a problem with smelly sponges ever!

I believe it works because of the Melaleuca oil in it. Melaleuca oil is antiseptic, so it kills off all the bad bacteria before they have a chance to make the sponges smelly.

Melaleuca oil is a high-quality form of what is more commonly known as tea tree oil. I’m very happy with Melaleuca’s detergent, so I probably won’t ever try this, but I suppose someone could get some tea tree oil at the pharmacy and add it to whatever dish detergent they are currently using–but that just seems like a lot of work to me. That might give similar results, though tea tree oil is much lower quality than pure Melaleuca oil.

I especially like how this detergent doesn’t dry my hands out like some do, and it’s not made with harsh chemicals, so it’s safe for the environment too. Not that I’m all into saving the earth, but I figure doing my part is good stewardship, and if I can do something without a lot of effort, it makes me feel good.

What do you think? What do you use to wash dishes? A dish cloth? A sponge? Something else? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Also, what dish detergent do you like and why? Please share.


3 Responses

  1. One of my favorites. Great idea but unfortunately the formulation and degraded store oil could pose a problem. Cheap tea tree oil is now sold in health food stores and there are home-made concoctions against molds or bedbugs. More and more cosmetic products, like shampoos, now feature tea tree oil. But this is low-grade tea tree oil made from the residue left after the first pressing of essential oil or imported from China and South-East Asia without any research or quality control. Its effectiveness is much lower while its medicinal smell is stronger – not usable for BioZap.
    Only the genuine Australian tea tree oil, whose composition is subject to the strict quality criteria of the Australian government, has been proven effective against molds and germs.

    http://www.radonseal.com/molds/tea-tree.htm Is the information on quality of tea tree oil. Melaleuca’s products amazing. Leave it to the professionals who already have proven not only quality but effectiveness and results. No need to play “Kitchen Chemist” The results will not be the same.

  2. #2
    Sara 

    Thanks! You’ve solved the mystery. I thought my amazingly non-smelly sponge was just that—-an amazing sponge. Now I realize that the new sponge arrival coincided with strict usage of Meyer’s Geranium dish soap. I don’t think it is tea tree oil that is doing the magic, but there are a lot of pretty cool ingredients…

  3. #3
    Lisa 

    I just read the ingredients on your soap. I think that there are other essential oils that kill bacteria, and apparently your soap has at least one of them. I’m glad I was able to help solve the mystery! :)

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