The kitchen sponge sits in the corner of most office pantry and kitchen sinks, an oft-overlooked but essential part of our daily cleaning rituals. Is it time to reinvent something that’s been around for so long?

These days, proud owners of the latest non-stick cooking equipment and delicate tableware have a very different attitude to scrubbing them. It’s no longer a one-size-fits-all affair. Cleaning a cast-iron wok, for example, requires a different level of exertion and care compared to cleaning your child’s plastic Paw Patrol cutlery. We’re also now more vigilant about maintaining strict hygiene standards, thanks to the pandemic, so bacteria-breeding surfaces are a no-no.

The Scrub-Dots Sponge. Photo: 3M

With all this to consider, an updated version of the kitchen sponge that can keep up with our cleaning habits is about due – and 3M’s Scotch-Brite Scrub Dots Sponge may be the solution. We sit down with Kee Boon Kiat, advanced application development engineer at 3M, to find out about this latest cleaning innovation.

Boon Kiat demonstrating a 3M product. Photo: 3M

What’s the new Scrub-Dots Sponge all about?

The Scotch-Brite Scrub Dots Non-Scratch Sponge and the Scotch-Brite Scrub Dots Heavy Duty Sponge are part of a new series of odourless antibacterial scrub sponges launched by 3M. This series is not only great for people who love to cook at home, but it also helps maintain increased levels of household hygiene needed amidst the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak. 

Equipped with 500 abrasive dots, the sponge easily cuts through dirt and stains. Unlike ordinary sponges that trap food and dirt, these feature a special coating that repels stuck-on residue and resists unpleasant odours. They are also made with antibacterial foam that prevents the breeding of harmful bacteria.

When cleaning dishes, pots and pans, does the amount of force you exert or the amount of detergent you use affect how much bacteria you can remove with one of these sponges?

The removal of bacteria on the surface is not greatly affected by the amount of force exerted but by the quality of the sponge used. We recommend using a durable sponge that can easily remove the stains and residue without scratching dishes and cooking equipment. It is also important that the sponge has antibacterial properties to inhibit the growth of bacteria. The type and amount of dishwashing liquid is another factor.

What would you advise for stubborn stains?

There are three factors when it comes to cleaning. Firstly, we have to consider the mechanical aspect, with the use of a scrub sponge. Next, there’s the use of cleaning chemicals and water temperature. Lastly, we should also take into account the time allowed for soaking and the type of surfaces being scrubbed. All three contribute to the easy removal of stubborn stains.In situations where some of these factors might not be accessible, you can use vinegar and lemon extract, commonly found in most kitchens, to help to get rid of them. Also, boiling your dishes, pots and pans in hot water first helps to remove oil stains and charring more effortlessly. 

How do you think our attitude towards household hygiene has changed in the light of the pandemic?

Studies have shown that the Sars-CoV-2 virus (Covid-19) can survive on plastic and steel surfaces such as cutlery or cooking equipment for up to seven days. Thus, we’ve noticed an increased concern about household hygiene among consumers.