• Top 10 Best Eco-Friendly Sponges to Buy Online 1
  • Top 10 Best Eco-Friendly Sponges to Buy Online 2
  • Top 10 Best Eco-Friendly Sponges to Buy Online 3
  • Top 10 Best Eco-Friendly Sponges to Buy Online 4
  • Top 10 Best Eco-Friendly Sponges to Buy Online 5

Top 10 Best Eco-Friendly Sponges to Buy Online

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 new–as well as very, very old–options that are just as good at cleaning and infinitely better for the environment than typical plastic-based sponges. In this guide, we’ll go over the factors you should look for when choosing an eco-friendly sponge. At the end, we’ve also got a list of our 10 favorites to help you get started.
  • Last updated: 10/24/2019
  • 467 views
Table of Contents

How to Choose an Eco-Friendly Sponge – Buying Guide

Eco-friendly or not, sponges vary in texture, size, and durability to meet specific cleaning needs, so be sure to keep in mind your own situation when picking out a sponge.

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 are ready to get rid of it, just look for a recycler that accepts silicone.

For Caked-on Messes, Look for an Attached Scouring Pad Made of Plant-Based Fibers

For Caked-on Messes, 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.

Pick the Right Size Sponge for the Job

Pick 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.

Ensure Your Sponge Is Antibacterial-Free

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.

Top 10 Best Eco-Friendly Sponges to Buy Online

Now that you know what to look for, here are our 10 favorites to help you get a feel for some options.

10. Teal Trunk Silicone Sponge and Scrubber (2 Pack)

$14.89

Main materialsSilicone
Scouring PadSilicone
Size3.1″ x 4.7″
Antibacterial-FreeYes

9. STK Heavy Duty Silicone Scrubber Sponges (10 Pack)

$16.95

Main materialsSilicone
Scouring PadNo
Size3″ x 4.25″
Antibacterial-FreeYes

8. Scotch-Brite Greener Clean Natural Fiber Non-Scratch Scrub Sponge (12 Pack)

$11.37

Main materialsCellulose
Scouring PadAgave
Size3.7″ x 4.3″
Antibacterial-FreeYes

7. The Natural Sea Sponge

$9.05

Main materialsSea sponge
Scouring PadNo
Size6″-7″
Antibacterial-FreeYes

6. Trader Joe’s Pop up Sponges (12 Pack)

$13.00

Main materialsCellulose
Scouring PadNo
Size3.25″ x 4.25″
Antibacterial-FreeYes

5. Kolo Nature Zero Waste Unsponges (3 Pack)

$9.99

Main materialsCotton, jute
Scouring PadJute
Size4″ x 4.5″
Antibacterial-FreeYes

4. Lather Natural Sea Wool Sponge

$15.00

Main materialsSea sponge
Scouring PadNo
Size5″
Antibacterial-FreeYes

3. Twist Loofah Sponge

$6.50

Main materialsCellulose, loofah
Scouring PadLoofah
Size2.8″ x 4.3″
Antibacterial-FreeYes

2. Miw Piw Whole Natural Loofah (3 Pack)

$14.99

Main materialsLoofah
Scouring PadNo
Size8″-10″
Antibacterial-FreeYes

1. Pura Naturals Stink Free Sponge (6 Pack)

$17.96

Main materialsCellulose, walnut
Scouring PadWalnut
Size3.5″ x 4″ and 3.5″ x 5″
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.

Summary

Sponges are something that you use every day and can go through pretty quickly. So even though changing your sponge may seem like a small step, it can really add up, especially if it means switching from one that’s completely plastic to one that’s fully biodegradable or recyclable.
By Jacqueline Oshiro

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