Sponges have always grossed me out but I have always assumed they were a necessary evil to cleaning. Growing up there was always a sponge by the sink to wash dishes and wipe down countertops and I have continued the tradition in my own household. Always, always, ALWAYS the smell of a sponge makes me shudder, and I feel like I can never get the smell off my hands after using one, no matter how many times I wash with soap. I'm sure the smell is all the germs and bacteria I am spreading around my kitchen, but I never knew of an alternative.
As I mentioned in a previous post, my husband and I recently cleaned out our closet and dresser drawers. There were several tee shirts that my husband got rid of and an idea dawned on me. In the past, whenever he has needed a rag to clean his tools or whatever manly things he does in the garage, I would pull out his rattiest looking undershirt and give it to him. I decided to do the same with these tee shirts we would otherwise throw away. I went through and cut them into rectangle-square shapes - I wasn't overly concerned with how good they looked, and kept the size relatively small, probably around 4"x4" or so. I had two tee shirts he was tossing and from those shirts I probably ended with close to three dozen small rags. I placed these rags in a large mason jar and stuck it under the sink.
Now whenever I am cleaning pots and pans or wiping down the countertops, I grab one of these rags and wipe away. When I am done, I hang it over the divider between the two sinks to dry. After a day or so of using, I toss it in a basket in the laundry room with all the used, dirty dish towels (we go through about one a day of them). I can now go several weeks and still not run out of rags, so I'm not constantly doing laundry. My husband was a little skeptical about this cleaning method at first and wanted the sponges back, but now he is on board too.
Incidentally, as I was cutting the shirts into rags, I remembered my grandmother's kitchen and how there is always a washcloth at the sink that she uses for washing dishes. Again, I feel like so much of my cleaning these days is getting back to the way our grandmothers' generation has always been cleaning.