• 7 Best Eco-Friendly Sponges in 2022 (Environmental Scientist-Reviewed) 1
  • 7 Best Eco-Friendly Sponges in 2022 (Environmental Scientist-Reviewed) 2
  • 7 Best Eco-Friendly Sponges in 2022 (Environmental Scientist-Reviewed) 3
  • 7 Best Eco-Friendly Sponges in 2022 (Environmental Scientist-Reviewed) 4
  • 7 Best Eco-Friendly Sponges in 2022 (Environmental Scientist-Reviewed) 5

7 Best Eco-Friendly Sponges in 2022 (Environmental Scientist-Reviewed)

When consciously cutting down on plastics and making more Earth-friendly choices, it’s important to analyze even the small things. Plastics have a way of sneaking into even the most benign-sounding items. Sponges, for example, are named after an animal, but most of our cleaning sponges are actually made up of plastics.

Luckily there are a number of options that are just as good at cleaning and infinitely better for the environment than typical plastic-based sponges. We've researched and gathered the most eco-friendly ones we could find in our list, including our top choice, Miw Piw's Whole Natural Loofah. Read the rest of our list for more choices, and scroll down to the end for a buying guide reviewed by an environmental scientist for more shopping tips.

Featured in this article

Gwen Lynn
mybest US Editors
  • Last updated: 08-21-2022
Table of Contents

How to Choose an Eco-Friendly Sponge – Buying Guide

Here, we'll be introducing the following four important points to check when you choose an eco-friendly sponge.


Points to Consider:

  1. Pick a Material Based on Toughness and Disposal
  2. Look for an Attached Scouring Pad Made of Plant-Based Fibers
  3. Select the Right Size Sponge for the Job
  4. Ensure Your Sponge is Antibacterial-Free

1. Pick a Material Based on Toughness and Disposal

The material your eco-friendly sponge is made from is going to be what determines the most important aspects of your sponge–how hard it scrubs, how long it lasts, and how Earth-friendly disposal will be.

Cellulose Sponges Are Soft, Readily Available, and Familiar

Cellulose Sponges Are Soft, Readily Available, and Familiar
As it stands, a lot of normally available commercial sponges are made from cellulose and hemp fiber, plant-based materials that will naturally biodegrade over time. These are your typical kitchen sponges with the larger, more irregular holes.
The ones with tiny holes are probably made from polyurethane. However, generic cellulose sponges sometimes also include polyester, which is a form of plastic. So to ensure that you’re getting unadulterated plant materials, be sure to read the label.
These sponges are soft and great for surface cleaning and dishwashing, although they don’t have a lot of hard scrubbing power and tend to have a shorter lifespan—if you’re using them in the kitchen, you really shouldn’t use one for more than a couple weeks before switching it out.

Loofahs Are Mildly Abrasive and Compostable

Loofahs Are Mildly Abrasive and Compostable
Loofahs are plants that are closely related to cucumbers. To create that spongey texture, they’re dried out and essentially left to become plant skeletons.
Loofahs are mildly abrasive and make great cleaning sponges in the place of green scouring pads or mild steel wool. They’re also gentle enough to use for body exfoliation in the shower. If you get a whole loofah, you can just cut it into smaller pieces and use it as you need it.
As long as you let it dry out properly between uses, each piece will last about three months before it starts to break down, at which point you can feel free to just toss it into your compost pile!

Sea Sponges Are Super Absorbent, Gentle, and Last for Years

Sea Sponges Are Super Absorbent, Gentle, and Last for Years
Humans have been using sea sponges to clean for millennia. In fact, the word “sponge” comes from the animal. While they aren’t exactly vegan, sea sponges are sustainably harvested from aquatic farms in a way that allows the organism to keep growing and has little negative environmental impact.
They’re super soft and extremely absorbent—one sponge can hold an entire cup of water—which makes them great for cleaning up countertop messes or even washing your car. Naturally, they are compostable and biodegradable, but you won’t have to worry about that for a while as they can last several years of use.

Silicone Sponges Are Durable and Recyclable

Silicone Sponges Are Durable and Recyclable

For something a little different, why not try a silicone sponge? They’re gentle but can also be used as scouring pads depending on how the silicone is shaped.

They’re also naturally bacteria-resistant and can withstand years of use, so you don’t need to worry about them breaking down and entering the waterways. When you're ready to get rid of it, just look for a recycler that accepts silicone.

2. Look for an Attached Scouring Pad Made of Plant-Based Fibers

2. Look for an Attached Scouring Pad Made of Plant-Based Fibers
Conventional scouring pads are great for scrubbing off tough messes, but they’re usually made from plastic, which breaks down as you use it and slips down the drain.
Fortunately, there are some plant-based scourers that do the job just as well without contributing to microplastic pollution. So if you’re looking for a sponge that’s also got a little grit to help you clean, look for sponges with scouring pads made from materials like coconut husks or walnut shells.

3. Select the Right Size Sponge for the Job

3. Select the Right Size Sponge for the Job
Just because a sponge is eco-friendly doesn’t automatically make it the best sponge for you–you need to think about what you’re scrubbing too! So just remember that if you’re looking for a sponge to clean the bathtub, you’ll probably want it to be on the larger side.
Conversely, if you find yourself cleaning a lot of cups, for example, a smaller sponge will fit more easily and allow you to clean more thoroughly. Luckily, a lot of eco-friendly sponges–loofahs and cellulose sponges in particular–cut down very easily and can be used in a wide variety of spaces.

4. Ensure Your Sponge is Antibacterial-Free

4. Ensure Your Sponge is Antibacterial-Free
Sponges are moist and full of holes–the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Which is why many conventional sponges are treated with antibacterial chemicals. 

And while they kind of work to keep your cleaning device clean, they’re also harmful to the environment, particularly marine life. So to avoid any of these unwanted chemicals, be sure to check that your sponge is untreated.

7 Best Eco-Friendly Sponges

Here's the list of our 7 favorite eco-friendly sponges, chosen for their superior materials, lack of antibacterial ingredients, and more.


*Please note that these products were chosen after extensive research by mybest writers. The choices are not affiliated with or recommended by Gwen Lynn unless explicitly stated so. For more on our selection process, check out our content policy. Prices were gathered from respective EC sites on July 22, 2022.

Image
1
Miw Piw Whole Natural Loofah, 3 pack 1

Miw Piw

2
Teal Trunk Silicone Sponge and Scrubber 1

Teal Trunk

3
Kolo Nature Zero Waste Unsponges, 3 pack 1

Kolo

4
Lather Natural Sea Wool Sponge 1

Lather

5
Trader Joe's Pop up Sponges, 12 pack 1

Trader Joe's

6
Scotch-Brite Greener Clean Non-Scratch Scrub Sponge, 12 pack 1

Scotch-Brite

7
STK Heavy Duty Silicone Scrubber Sponges, 10 pack 1

STK

Name

Whole Natural Loofah, 3 pack

Silicone Sponge and Scrubber

Nature Zero Waste Unsponges, 3 pack

Natural Sea Wool Sponge

Pop up Sponges, 12 pack

Greener Clean Non-Scratch Scrub Sponge, 12 pack

Heavy Duty Silicone Scrubber Sponges, 10 pack

Features

Three All-Natural, Organic Loofahs

Gentle Silicone Scrubber With Two Surfaces

100% Recycled, Compostable Plant-Based “Unsponge”

A Super Soft, All-Natural Sponge

A Simple, All-Plant Sponge for Household Cleaning

Made from Recycled Paper and Agave

Heat-Resistant, Odor-Free Sponges for the Kitchen

Price$13.95$11.99$16.00$18.00$10.27$10.48$19.95
Main materialsLoofahSiliconeCotton, juteSea spongeCelluloseCelluloseSilicone
Scouring padNoSiliconeJuteNoNoAgaveNo
Size8-10 in.3.1 x 4.7 in.4 x 4.5 in.5 in.3.25 x 4.25 in.3.7 x 4.3 in.3 x 4.25 in.
Antibacterial-freeYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Link
1

Miw PiwWhole Natural Loofah, 3 pack

$13.95

Main materialsLoofah
Scouring padNo
Size8-10 in.
Antibacterial-freeYes
2

Teal TrunkSilicone Sponge and Scrubber

$11.99

Main materialsSilicone
Scouring padSilicone
Size3.1 x 4.7 in.
Antibacterial-freeYes
3

KoloNature Zero Waste Unsponges, 3 pack

$16.00

Main materialsCotton, jute
Scouring padJute
Size4 x 4.5 in.
Antibacterial-freeYes
4

LatherNatural Sea Wool Sponge

$18.00

Main materialsSea sponge
Scouring padNo
Size5 in.
Antibacterial-freeYes
5

Trader Joe'sPop up Sponges, 12 pack

$10.27

Main materialsCellulose
Scouring padNo
Size3.25 x 4.25 in.
Antibacterial-freeYes
6

Scotch-BriteGreener Clean Non-Scratch Scrub Sponge, 12 pack

$10.48

Main materialsCellulose
Scouring padAgave
Size3.7 x 4.3 in.
Antibacterial-freeYes
7

STKHeavy Duty Silicone Scrubber Sponges, 10 pack

$19.95

Main materialsSilicone
Scouring padNo
Size3 x 4.25 in.
Antibacterial-freeYes

How to Clean Your Sponge

How to Clean Your Sponge
Since you’re looking for a sponge that isn’t antibacterial, you have to know how to keep it clean. A lot of us have learned that microwaving a sponge will kill the bacteria, and that’s true–mostly.
In fact, microwaving your sponge does kill all the weaker bacteria, but it also leaves behind the stronger, more dangerous ones and gives them more opportunity to grow. Dishwashing and tossing them in the washing machine with your laundry can do the same. So what’s the best way to avoid spreading germs around your house?
Make sure your sponge has an opportunity to dry as thoroughly and as quickly as possible. Don’t try to stretch the life of your sponge too long–if it’s starting to smell funny or looks a little ratty, it’s time to retire it. For some cellulose sponges, this could mean as often as every week if you use it for dishwashing.
If you’re reluctant to throw it away too quickly, rotate it to a part of the house where using an old sponge isn’t going to do any harm. Say, using an old dish sponge to clean the bathtub, for example.

Looking for More Eco-Friendly Cleaners?

Your sustainable journey likely doesn't end with sponges. Here are even more cleaning tools to help you reduce your carbon footprint!

Buying Guide Reviewed by Environmental Scientist Gwen Lynn

Gwen Lynn
Environmental Health & Safety Scientist
Gwen Lynn

This expert reviewed the contents of the buying guide for accuracy and provided factual corrections when necessary. They did not participate in the product selection process, nor are they affiliated with any of our choices unless explicitly stated so.

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