By Texas Homesteader ~
Did you know you can easily grow your own plastic-free luffa sponge? (some spell it loofah) It’s biodegradable, compostable, plastic free and it does a great job of scrubbing.
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I love to grow luffa (or loofah) gourds in my garden. There are so many things you can do with these large gourds! Recently I harvested a large crop of luffa from the garden and decided to make a flat scrubby luffa kitchen sponge with some of them.
But how do I take this large fibrous gourd and make it into a hard-working scrub sponge? Well you’re really not gonna believe how easy this is!
The beauty of turning a luffa gourd that I grew in my garden into a luffa scrubby sponge for the kitchen is that a flat sponge doesn’t take near as much space to store as a whole round dried luffa gourd.
And luffa sponges are all natural and biodegradable too. No plastic scrub pads for our household! (Have I mentioned lately how much I. Hate. Plastic??!!)
Growing Luffa In The Garden
I Grew My Own Luffa vines last year. I only had two vines but I grew them along the fence that separates my veggie garden from my chicken yard.
Those luffa vines grew into a living screen and offered our chickens shade from the hot summer afternoon sun.
The vines were productive too. When all was said & done, those two vines netted me about 50 large gourds! If you want to grow your own luffa too, you can easily *Buy Luffa Seeds Online.
Now that I have all these luffa, I wanted to make sure to use them all. But wowser – how do you use that many luffas? Well I’m so glad you asked. I’ll share my scrubber sponge idea as well as other uses below.
Making Your Own Biodegradable Scrubber Luffa Sponge
One super handy thing I do with my luffas is to make some of them into scrubber sponges for cleaning purposes. You know, like the green plastic ones that rhyme with blotch blight?
This home-grown luffa dish sponge is non-plastic, biodegradable & compostable too.
You can *Buy Loofah Kitchen Sponges Online of course. But my luffas were grown right in my garden. Now if that’s not an eco as well as a financial win I’m not sure what is!
All I know is that it makes this eco girl’s heart sing. So let’s make these dried gourds into scrub sponges, shall we?
Cutting Out The Luffa Core
In making these scrub sponges I’m basically cutting away the internal luffa core that holds all the seeds. So first I cut off both tapered ends of the dried & peeled luffa.
Then using a sharp knife I carefully score along the entire length of one of the raised ridges of the luffa. The raised ridges are typically hollow beneath so it’s a great place to start peeling away the outside.
With my fingertips I gently separate the luffa where I’ve made my first cut. This shows me where I need to focus the knife tip next to cut the core away to the next hollow ridge.
So I pull the outside that I’ve freed from the core and using my knife I tackle the next little section where the core is attached to the fibrous outside. I detach the core along the entire length of the luffa again to get to the next hollow area, then repeat.
Each section is detached from the luffa core until there’s only one last section holding the luffa to the core.
But I don’t use my knife on this last section. Instead I use my scissors this time so I don’t accidentally cut through the exterior of the luffa. #AskMeHowIKnow
Using my scissors I carefully remove the last rib holding the luffa core to the fibrous outside of the luffa. There!
Cleaning Up The Luffa Sponge
Often once the core has been cut away from the luffa I’ll work to remove any of the spongy sections I see that remain.
But to be honest, I’ll not be able to remove every last bit of those little spongy parts anyway. I know that after a few dish scrubbings this spongy part comes off on its own, so I don’t spend too much time with this step.
Cutting Loofah Into Squares
Usually my prepared luffa is still way too long to be a single sponge. My luffa gourds typically grow to around 12 – 18” long!
So I take this opportunity to cut the luffa sponge I’ve just made in half to make two more manageable sized sponges.
Oftentimes I’ll also do a little light trimming as well to square up the sponge since the luffa gourd tapered at the ends when it was intact. But again, sometimes not. Flyin’ by the seat of my pants, y’all. That’s the way I roll!
The luffa sponge is somewhat stiff the first time I use it to wash dishes. But after wetting it down it’s loose enough to grip in my hand and wad into a ball if I want.
Luffa Sponge Longevity
I use my home-grown luffa sponges when I need a little more cleaning power whether scrubbing dishes or cleaning my countertops or stovetop. The scrubby texture does a great job at cleaning away any stuck-on schmeckus.
These all-natural luffa sponges last a surprisingly long time too. Depending upon how crusty the plates are that I typically find myself scrubbing, I can usually get about 6-8 months out of a luffa sponge before needing to toss it and bring out another.
Luffa Is Biodegradable
After months & months of scrubbing the luffa sponge will begin to get softer & lose some of it’s scrubbability. Still this old, tired luffa sponge isn’t through giving back. Oh no it’s not!
Now I toss the old worn out luffa into my compost and it will further degrade to become some of the Black Gold Compost that’s so vital to a healthy garden.
You see? Even when it’s done heavy duty for months, still my luffa scrub sponge just keeps on giving!
So the luffa sponges I cut today will last me a long time, then go into the compost to continue offering benefit. Gotta love a garden goodie like that.
Other Luffa Uses: Exfoliating Soap Gifts
You know that RancherMan & I prefer to make Homemade Christmas Gifts. That’s the main reason I’d planted luffa in the first place. I wanted to include them in our Christmas Gift Basket.
So we cut some matured, dried & peeled luffa gourds into thick discs and laid them flat into a silicone muffin pan. Then we used melt-n-pour soap to fill the hollows of the luffa with soap.
These gifts were very well received! We’ve already received requests for these to be made again. Now that’s the sign of a good gift!
Natural Luffa Soap Saver
RancherMan & I haven’t purchased bar soap in over 10 years. Instead we make our own Homemade Soap.
But you know how it is – after you wash your hands you put that wet bar of soap back on the edge of the sink. There it just kinda sits in a wet puddle. Over time the soap bar just gets goopy.
So I also used some of the thick luffa gourd discs on our kitchen sink to hold our homemade soap. The fibrous weave of the luffa allows the soap plenty of airflow to dry properly.
So our homemade soap lasts much longer and results in significantly less mess left on the edge of our sink.
Exfoliating Shower Scrubber
Of course I also use thicker luffa rounds in the shower. A good exfoliating scrub sure feels nice after a long, hot day in the pasture.
In our area of NE Texas we also deal with tiny almost invisible bugs called chiggers. They hitch a ride onto your jeans from taller grass. Then crawl to a spot on your skin and chow down.
Ugh, the itch is maddening! Because of these little pests, it’s important to make sure you dislodge the near-invisible little beasts before they spend the next 3-4 days biting away. You’ll suffer some pretty maddening itch to suffer with otherwise. A good hot scrubby shower will do the trick.
(IMPORTANT NOTE – If you are unfortunate enough to suffer chigger bites, it’s never a good idea to scratch the skin open to ‘expose the itchy chigger under your skin’. Despite popular misconception, the chigger itself is NOT burrowed beneath your skin. Feel free to read this post about Chigger Fact & Fiction.)
As you can see, luffa (loofah) have many different uses. I’m so glad I planted them and got such a bountiful harvest!
Links In This Post:
- Grow Your Own Luffa Sponges
- *Buy Luffa Seeds Online
- Homemade Christmas Gifts
- Homemade Morning Motivation Soap
- Chigger Fact & Fiction
- *Buy Loofah Kitchen Sponges Online
- Easy Compost Guide
My Favorite Garden Hacks
- Easy Garden Planning Spreadsheet
- Getting A Jump: Planting An Indoor Greenhouse
- Repurposed Cardboard Seed-Starting Pots
- 3-Sister’s Garden – The Original Companion Planting
- Planting A Large Galvanized Trough
- Tricking Birds AWAY From Your Strawberry Plants
- Easy Compost For A Healthy Garden
- Propping Tender Seedlings
- Cheap (or FREE) Wood Mulch For The Garden
- Using Vining Plants For Living Mulch
- Homestead Hack: Remember Where You Planted Seeds
- Keeping Potted Plants Watered
- Planting A Blueberry Bush In Galvanized Tub
- Stevia – Growing Your Own Sweetener!
- How I Use EcoBricks In The Garden
- Repurposing A Coffee Can For Deep-Soak Watering
- How Leaves Benefit Your Garden
- My Simple, Zero-Waste Herb Drying Setup
- The Lazy Gardener’s Plant List – Plant Once, Eat For Years!
- How To Tell When Watermelon Is Ripe
- Luffa A Surprising Zucchini Substitute!
- How To Make Your Own Garden Soil
- Easy Homemade Seed Tape
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