The Life Stages of a Dish Sponge

How Get the Most Out of Your Dish Sponge

Figure 1.1 Young Spongilla familiaris Image by Madoline Hatter

A sponge is a Porifera, a sedentary creature characterized by its numerous holes (or pores). Sponges are water dwelling animals generally found in the sea. The dish sponge, Spongilla familiaris, is a domestic variety of sponge which frequently inhabits the damp places of human dwellings.

The common dish sponge begins and ends its life in and around the kitchen sink. In the kitchen sink, its natural environment, the sponge consumes and eliminates an omnivorous diet of food particles, thus fulfilling its purpose (Figure 1.1). However, in the course of its life, the dish sponge suffers wear and tear and becomes infected by other natural inhabitants of the kitchen sink: bacteria and mold. While sponge disease may be delayed or temporarily cured by the application of sodium hypochlorite (bleach), decrepitude follows and the inevitable end of the common sponge is sadly in the kitchen trash.

Figure 1.2 Mature Spongilla familiaris Image by Madoline HatterA too little known fact is that when a dish sponge is ready to quit the occupation for which it is named, it is not an “old” sponge, but a sponge in its prime (Figure 1.2). The life of a common dish sponge can actually be prolonged by a change of environment. If it is well kept, a former dish sponge can scour kitchen counters, stove-tops and other surfaces for food. When it outgrows this activity, the mature sponge can feed in the sink drain or on the floors.

The final habitat for the water-loving sponge is naturally the bathroom where it usually becomes so infected from its feeding habits that it ends its life in the bathroom trash (Figure 1.3). But, compared to the solely kitchen dwelling sponge, the dish sponge that has seen the world can be said to have enjoyed a life of greater fulfillment.

Figure 1.3 Old Spongilla familiaris Image by Madoline Hatter

Disclaimer: The illustrations are for effect and are not guidelines for determining usability and sanitary state of an individual sponge. Use and dispose at your discretion.


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2 thoughts on “The Life Stages of a Dish Sponge”

  1. weird… I was just thinking about this last night when I replaced my old sponge. Sadly, it went in the trash, not to it’s next duty.

  2. I have seen so much on TV about kitchen germs in the dish sponge, I have switched to cotton dish cloths – I have a fresh clean one every day and reuse them almost indefinitely. (they also have many life stages!)

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