Dishwashers are one of mankind's greatest inventions: They save precious time and are more efficient than washing dishes by hand. That doesn't make sponges obsolete, though. Delicate dishes, fine china, and general cleaning all benefit from these handy kitchen aides.
Most scrubbers you see at the store are made from plastic polymers, meaning they aren't biodegradable. Cheap sponges usually end up in a landfill for all eternity, and that ain't cool.
We've rounded up six of the best all-natural sponges and scrubbers that'll let you get your spring cleaning done with a clean conscience.
The Spaghetti Scrub
Why it's all-natural: Made from corn cobs and peach pits
How do you make an all-natural cleaning tool? Easy: Use corn cobs and peach pits. Yes, you read that right. Can't say we would have thought of that ourselves.
The Spaghetti Scrub from Goodbye Detergent looks like a scraggly ball of yarn. Just like the company's name suggests, you shouldn't use detergent with the Spaghetti Scrub—at least not for everyday cleaning. For small stains like juice or ketchup on your counter, just scrub it away. Goodbye Detergent recommends using some soap for heavy-duty cleaning, like washing a pan covered in bacon grease.
One of the best parts about this sponge/scrubber/kitchen tool is how you're supposed to store it. When you finish cleaning, just rinse it off and drape it over your faucet. Because of its stringy nature, the Spaghetti Scrub will dry up and rest there until you need its cleaning power again.
The Dish Dumpling
Why it's all-natural: Made from agave twine
Sold as an alternative to copper scrubbers, the Dish Dumpling offers heavy-duty washing power in the form of agave twine. That's right: Agave has another purpose besides tequila. There exists a type of agave plant called sisal which produces the fiber used in this product.
So there you have it: Twist's Dish Dumpling is not only a great tool for spring cleaning, but also a free botany lesson.
The Tree Fiber Kitchen Sponge
Why it's all-natural: Made from trees grown in sustainable forests
Paper towels are the bread and butter of many kitchens (I mean, aside from actual bread and butter). I use way too many of them, but that's because I'm a messy cook.
Natural Home's Reusable Kitchen Sponges are the perfect solution for people like me. Each sponge can hold 15 times its weight in liquid. And don't forget about the "reusable" part: Throw these sponges in the washing machine and use them time and again. Doesn't that remind you of a certain super-absorbent German product?
You can find a two-pack of these au naturel paper towel replacements for as low as $2.75, which isn't too bad considering a roll of paper towels retails for more than a dollar. Save money and the environment—Mother Nature would be so proud.
These sponges are also available in a bamboo-derived version for the more adventurous.
The Sea Wool Sponge
Why it's all-natural: Made from a multicellular organism
Sea sponges have always been popular in the beauty world. You can't get much more natural than having a formerly living organism as your personal scrubber, right?
Contrary to popular belief, you can use a sea sponge outside of the shower. A good sponge can be used for washing your dishes, your car, and even your horse. You do own a horse, right?
The Natural Sea Sponge, available on Amazon for $15, is "known for absorption, soft texture, pliability and durability," making it a versatile addition to your cleaning arsenal. And with an average rating of four stars, you probably won't miss your old sponge when you make the switch.
The Hemp Ravioli Scrubby
Why it's all-natural: Made from hemp
What makes everything better? Hemp, of course! Who doesn't like buying overpriced bags and shoes specifically because they're hemp? Okay, no one likes this.
Twist, which also makes the Dish Dumpling, offers an affordable hemp-based cleaning tool: the Ravioli Scrubby. The inside is filled with a biodegradable sponge, while the outside is 100% hemp burlap. That gives this little scrubber—I mean scrubby—a tough exterior that can handle caked-on foods and other hard-to-clean stains.
You can find this non-digestible ravioli for as low as $3.50, which means you'll have enough cash leftover for some edible munchies.
The Real Luffa Sponge
Why it's all-natural: Made from actual luffa fruit
Say it with me: luffa. Not loofah. Okay, so these words are pronounced the same way, but doesn't "luffa" look classier than "loofah?"
That's not even my main gripe with luffa sponges. What really upsets me is when people refer to those cheap mesh sponges you buy at the supermarket as "luffas." They are not. A luffa is actually a vine that produces a cucumber-like fruit. In order to make the real luffa sponges, those fruits have everything but the fibers taken out, leaving you with yet another awesome food-themed scrubber that can work on much more than just your body.
Wicked Health and Beauty sells luffa (or loofah) sponges in a variety of styles, including the all-natural look. A luffa's best asset is its soft, non-abrasive nature, which is great for either your skin or delicate cookware. And being able to get three sponges for under $13 makes them a pretty affordable all-natural option.