Ditch the Dish Sponge

Ditch the Dish Sponge

I hate throwing things away. I save every “nice” box or envelope that comes in the mail to use again some day. I compost or recycle everything that can be composted or recycled. I shop secondhand. It’s just my natural way of being, to try to leave less of a negative imprint when I’m no longer on this earth.

Unfortunately, there are some things that it would be expensive or difficult or annoying (or all three) to avoid the disposable versions of, like toothbrushes and shaving razors. I don’t see myself shaving my legs with a straight razor I hone myself. Not. Gonna. Happen.

The Dish Sponge

On thing I’ve been putting off ditching is the disposable dish sponge.

I had always used the synthetic yellow-with-a-scrubby-top, or, more recently, the blue-with-a-blue-scrubby-top sponges to wash dishes. While the scrubby part is nice to have, it doesn’t always do the job, so I find myself using brushes for tough jobs anyway. And, they start to break down after only a few days of use, leaving bits of sponge in your sink. Not great. The easiest way to ditch the disposable sponge is to use something that’s not disposable. Some friends have discovered they love reusable dish cloths instead of sponges, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to ditch the concept of a “sponge” altogether. Luckily, there are several options out there.

Alternative #1: Dream Cloths from whogivesacrap.org

The Dream Cloths. Front cloth is wet and squishable, while the dry ones are stiff.

The Dream Cloth consists of a mix of sponge and cloth that gives you the absorbency, washing power, and drying-out capability of a sponge, plus the large cleaning surface of a towel. They dry quickly, so bacteria and smells can’t develop. They last a long time, through many washings in the dishwasher or washing machine, and after that they are compostable, which is amazing!

I thought I would dislike the off-white color of the non-patterned side since it would show dirt over time, but, on the contrary, it is satisfying to rinse them off and see the dirt wash away. The patterns are fun and colorful without being obnoxious.

Detail of the texture on the reverse side of the Dream Cloth.

As a bonus, the cloths are sold by Who Gives a Crap, a B-Corp that gives 50% of its profits towards building toilets in places that need them.

Pros:

  • Dries out quickly, so stays bacteria-free and stink-free if hung up properly
  • Can be cleaned in the washer or dishwasher(!)
  • Soaks up a lot of liquid
  • More surface area than a sponge for cleaning countertops and tables
  • Compostable when it has outlived its cleaning life
  • Can also replace paper towels
  • Can last up to a year(!) so $12.00 for 3 is a great deal [link]

Cons:

  • Not that scrubby

Alternative #2: Loofah Sponges

The loofah is making a comeback as a green alternative to plastic sponges. They are scrubby, dry quickly, and are totally compostable when they loose their cleaning power. I actually plan to grow them myself this year to give myself an ample supply of full-on dried loofah, but they are sold compressed into sponge shapes already. These are more scrubby than the Dream Cloths, but do not last as long–they are recommended to be replaced every month or two. And, the Amazon sellers of these feel like those AI-generated ones instead of a real company, which always makes me wary.

Pros:

  • Scrubby
  • Dries out quickly, so stays bacteria-free and stink-free if hung up properly
  • Compostable when it has outlived its cleaning life

Cons:

  • Need to be replaced every month or 2, so can get expensive
  • Not super absorbent
  • Cannot be put through the dishwasher or washing machine

Alternative #3: Towels

These towels have been through a lot and keep on cleaning!

In our house, we use white “shop” towels for a lot of purposes, most of which would normally replace paper towels, like cleaning up spills or washing windows. We wash them in the washing machine and have used the same batch of 50 for about 10 years now. Until a recent camping trip where we all forgot a dish sponge of ANY kind, I had never used them to wash dishes. I cut up some of my shop towels into quarters and they became the way to wash dishes for that trip.

The white towels did an OK job when camping, though once they have any grease on them, you pretty much need them to go through the wash cycle, so having a million on hand is critical. They don’t scrub too well, but they do the job. This would certainly be the cheapest option over time, especially because they would also replace paper towels in a lot of cases.

Pros:

  • Cheap
  • Last many years before being unusable
  • Machine-washable

Cons:

  • Get gross-looking real fast
  • Not a great grip (too thin)
  • Only medium-absorbent
  • Not very scrubby

Conclusion

Until I have the chance to try my own garden-grown Loofahs, I can’t say for certain which is my absolute favorite, but for now, The Dream Cloth is definitely the best overall option for a blue-sponge alternative. It may be that sponge-like feel to it that makes the transition easier, or just how cute they look drying above the sink.

A dream cloth hanging up to dry next to my husband’s Coffee Sock (another great reusable item).

Disclaimer

I am an affiliate of Whogivesacrap.org and Amazon, so if you buy something from a link on this page, I will get a small kickback that helps fund this website’s costs.

I want you to know that I also really like the Who Gives a Crap company and their other products, and use their recycled toilet paper and bamboo tissues exclusively in my home (and did so BEFORE ever becoming an affiliate).

The bright, individually-wrapped toilet paper makes a great building toy for the kids, too 🙂


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