Zero Waste, Eco Friendly Sponges and Sponge Alternatives for a Sustainable Kitchen

Sustainable-washing-up-sponges

Eco friendly sponges, cloths and scourers are some of those things that are made of plastic and change ever so often, sometimes even once a week. The traditional sponges that you find in most supermarkets are usually made of polyester and polyurethane which will add micro plastics to your dishwater every time you wash up. Some sponges may contain triclosan, a hormone-disrupting anti-bacterial agent, and manufacturer 3M is yet to confirm what the dye in the sponges are made of so it could be anything!

When consciously cutting down on waste and plastic within the home, it’s important to consider all of the items you use and discard regularly for a more sustainable life. 

Luckily we have other options to consider as there are many new eco friendly sponges and brushes that we can employ to help keep our kitchens tidy, sustainable and habitable making them part of our zero waste essentials list.

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Choosing an Eco Friendly Sponge

Eco friendly sponges can vary in the type of material and their longevity. You’ll also need a hard bristle for scrubbing pots and pans.

Cellulose Eco Friendly Sponges

Cellulose sponges are made from wood pulp and can usually be identified by larger holes within the sponge. These eco friendly sponges are usually compostable as it’s made from natural fibres, but be aware that they can potentially be soaked in chemical anti-bacterial agents such as triclosan.

Swedish dishcloths are made of cellulose and cotton and do last a long time. Once you’re done with it you can chuck these in the compost, just cut them up so that they degrade more quickly.

Note that some of these eco friendly sponges could have a scourer side made from polyurethane which is not biodegradable and potentially harmful.

Cellulose Scrubber

Cellulose & Coconut Kitchen Scrubber

This Cellulose kitchen sponge and scrubber is made from sustainably sourced wood pulp and coconut husk, it’s perfect for cleaning pots, pans, plates and more. No plastic is to be found here.

One side is a sponge and the other is a coconut dish scrubber, making it a good all in one sponge. Coconut scrubbers are gentle enough not to scratch but tough enough to get rid of grime.

Manufacturing these sponges are more eco friendly than traditional sponges as it releases fewer toxins. And once you’re done with it you can cut it up and put it in the compost.

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Compostable Sponges

Eco Friendly ‘Pop-Up’ Dish Sponges

Made by Composty these non-scratch sponges are created from natural cellulose and designed to be non-scratch. The tough and textured feel enables a good enhanced clean when compared to plastic kitchen sponges.

As these eco friendly sponges are made from cellulose you can just cut them up and add them to the compost. You can also pop these in the washing machine or dishwasher to freshen them up – now isn’t that handy?

These biodegradable sponges, contain no hidden toxins or plastic and will arrive in a compressed form, simply add water and see them rise to the occasion.

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Swedish Dish Cloths

Pack of 10 Swedish Dish Cloths

Swedish dishcloths are great for the kitchen and bathroom and will last a long time. It’s made from cellulose and cotton and is tough when wet.

These are a great replacement for paper towels and will clean up messes every time, just throw it in the wash and it will be as good as new. They are super absorbent and we think they’re much better than their plastic containing counterparts or even cotton rags. You won’t have to worry about odours either as they don’t tend to pick up nasty smells.

Each pack contains 10 washable multi-surface dishcloths, you can even choose the colours you love.

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Natural Scrubbies and Pads

With all the natural and eco friendly material options, we are truly spoiled for choice. There is no reason to grab a plastic sponge as you can choose from a range of innovative materials and designs.

Hemp Scrubber

Hemp Scrubber 3 Pack

These hemp scrubbers are a good alternative to acrylic sponges. It’s woven with natural hemp fibre, which is super durable, strong and completely biodegradable. Hemp is naturally antibacterial a bonus.

The scrubber is loosely woven in a two-layer mesh and is easy to rinse and super quick to dry. They are odour free, plastic-free and won’t scratch surfaces. To keep them fresh, just boil in water and baking powder and leave to dry.

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Jute Scrubber

Jute Dish Scrubbers – Compostable & Ecofriendly

Made from Jute these dish scrubbers are a great sponge alternative as they are soft and flexible enough to clean delicate china. But also tough enough to make easy work of pots and pans. Jute is super tough which means these handmade sponges are made to last you several months.

Pair it with an eco friendly dishcloth and you’re good to go. As it’s made from Jute these are 100% compostable and biodegradable. All shipping is plastic-free and the product is made in the USA. Rinse well with hot water after use and wring it out thoroughly. Leave to dry. For best cleaning power you can soak them in baking soda for 8 hours every other week. Rinse and leave to dry.

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Eco friendly wool pad

100% Wool Wool Dish pad

Wool is an inevitable byproduct of keeping sheep, and wool is no longer in great demand which means it’s relatively inexpensive. These dish pads are made from all-natural and biodegradable wool fibres. It contains no chemical compounds.

Wool is odour free and has a unique molecular structure that allows the air to carry away odours and keep itself clean. Each pad will last roughly 6 months, won’t scratch and can be used on a multitude of surfaces.

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Natural Loofah Sponges

Loofah sponges are made from plants that grow on vines and look a little bit like cucumbers. Eco friendly sponges made from the luffa or loofah (same thing different spellings) plants are 100% biodegradable and is classed as a zero waste product. 

I won’t say that it is the most incredible scrubber in the world but it does the job more naturally.

Natural Sponges

Eplanita Natural Dishwashing Sponges

Eplantina’s dishwashing sponges are made from loofah plants, making them biodegradable and easily compostable. Lasting between 4-6 weeks per sponge, the pack should give you 9 months of use.

Similar to the cellulose products these come compressed and thin but will bulk up when soaked in water so they’ll take the shape of a sponge. It gives a gentle scrub for pans, pots and plates without scratching. You can even wipe countertops or the stove to remove tougher dirt.

These sponges foam well and give a good clean in combination with zero waste dish soap.

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Natural Dish Scrubbers

HOMUG Natural Dish Scrubbers

Made from organic loofa, these plant-based scrubbers make easy work of dishes. It comes in brown paper packaging making them breathable and sustainable. Once you’re done with them, just chop them up and chuck them into the compost.

They do last a long time and are super durable. Perfect for cleaning cookware, dinnerware, countertops and even windows if you so choose. It’s soft in water but tough enough to scrub away grime without scratching. If you’re looking for a zero waste cleaning solution, then these scrubbers are a great choice.

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Other Eco Friendly Sponges

Eco friendly sponges come in many varieties, from the cellulose and loofah sponges listed above to clot and knitted sponges. Let’s take a look at the other options available.

un sponge

Zero Waste Natural Dish Un Sponge

If you’re looking for a simple zero waste solution then this Natural Dish Un Sponge might be just the thing you’re looking for. It’s plastic-free, made from knitted sustainable fibres. The fibres are completely natural and eco friendly with no plastic in sight.

On one side is a un sponge made from knitted straw thread and the other is knitted natural cotton. The straw is a gentle scrubby and will make easy work of cleaning plates and glasses.

Clean with soapy water after each use and leave to dry.

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Washable Sponge

Washable Natural Sponge

Handmade in Los Angeles these all-natural reusable sponges are super adorable. It’s made from cotton, linen and jute and is 100% biodegradable. You can wash them using a gentle machine wash which is handy and you can buy them as a set or individually.

All the sponges have a cotton mesh scrubbing top, but you can choose your favourite combination at checkout. It is made with 2 layers of 100% cotton terry towel to create a spongy effect. The finish is beautifully top stiched. Gently wash away the dirt on any surface not just in the kitchen.

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Bamboo Dish Brushes

Bamboo dish brushes fit perfectly in your hand and make easy work of washing up. Just be mindful that some of the brushes have variants of plastic either in the bristles or the body of the brush. These should last you a considerable amount of time and the plastic tend to be a lot less than a traditional sponge. The Full Circle version shown below contains an amount of recycled plastic, the Bürstenhaus Redecker Large Dish Brush is plastic-free.

Dish Brush Set

Dish Brush Set

We love this dish brush set with a super handy stand. The high-density firm bristles make it easy to clean off grime and stains on a range of surfaces without scratching. The brush is made with sisal, the handle is bamboo and the disc is ceramic so no plastic is to be found here!

If the bristles are too stiff in the beginning, not to worry, they will slightly soften over time, making them easier to use in the long run.

You can even scrub veggies and fruit before cooking them. Once you’ve used your brush, just rinse it off and hang it to dry. We don’t recommend leaving it in the water to soak as that can damage the handle, but this brush will last ages with proper care.

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Dish Brush

Redecker Stiff Bristle Dish Brush

These brush’ bristles are made from natural Tampico fibre and sport an extra-long handle for heavy-duty cleaning. It’s safe to use in very hot water and good for cleaning pots and pans.

The handle is made from untreated beach wood. To keep the wood from drying out, we recommend oiling it occasionally with either wood oil or olive oil if you don’t have wood oil.

Once you’ve used the brush, hang it to dry out to make sure it lasts a long time. Redecker is a German company that’s been making and handcrafting brushes since 1935, these are brushes made the old fashioned way.

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Sisal and Coconut Scouring Pads

Walnut shells and coconut fibre are both naturally abrasive and make a pretty decent scouring pad. It lasts long and is 100% biodegradable. A win-win for you and the environment!

Sisal Scouring Pads

Sisal Scouring Pads

All-natural, these scouring pads made from sisal pack a punch when it comes to good natural cleaning power. It’s gentle on surfaces but effective and durable enough to clean away stubborn grime.

To clean the pads just wash in warm soapy water and you’re good to go. It comes in a pack of three and is completely biodegradable so can be cut up and added to your compost. You won’t find any chemicals or coatings on this product, so no need to worry about toxicity.

These handy pads can be used on multiple surfaces, not just the kitchen, try them in the bathroom to wash away limescale in hard water areas for example.

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Coconut Scourer

Eco Coconut Eco Friendly, Multi-Purpose Scourers

Another great product by Redecker, these scourers are made from coconut coir, making them perfect for cleaning veggies and scrubbing pots and pans. The bristles are gentle yet effective, they are just soft enough to reach in nooks and crannies.

They have a non-slip compact design that fits comfortably in your palm and comes with a hanging loop for simple storage. It is safe to use with cast iron or stainless steel cookware.

Rise with water after each use, let it tray fully and you’re good to go.

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The list above should give you a good base to work from when you buy your next eco friendly dish sponge, scourer or brush. Unfortunately, you’ll still need to do the dishes, there’s no getting around that but hopefully, I’ve saved you a little bit of research time with the options above. 

Silicone Sponges

Silicone sponges can technically be recycled, but they are normally only recycled by specialist companies and is likely to cost you pain, fuel and effort to get rid of. You’re welcome to consider these as they are more environmentally friendly than plastic, but this sounds like a lot of hard work that I’d rather avoid personally but they are still better than their plastic counterparts. 

Sea Sponges should be Avoided

I’m mentioning sea sponges as some websites are listing them as sustainable and technically speaking they are 100% biodegradable and natural. People have been using these to clean for ages, however, sea sponges are living organisms and at threat of overharvesting. I think sea creatures have enough to worry about, they don’t need more people exploiting them so I’d say it’s best to avoid using sea sponges at all times. They are also the primary food source for the endangered baby Hawksbill sea turtles and are definitely not vegan if that is a concern for you.

Feel free to suggest any favourites in the comments below.

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