How To Grow Your Own Plastic-Free Scrub Sponge

By Texas Homesteader ~      

I love to grow luffa gourds (some spell it loofah) 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!

Luffa (or loofah) gourd can be grown in the garden and used for an all-natural biodegradable and compostable kitchen scrub sponge. #TexasHomesteader

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The beauty of turning a luffa gourd that I grew in my garden into a luffa scrubby sponge for the kitchen is that a sponge doesn’t take near as much space to store as a whole, 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.

Luffa (or loofah) gourds growing on a vine on fence in the garden. #TexasHomesteader

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 A 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!

The beauty of this is that the luffa scrubby sponges don’t take near as much space to store as the whole, dried luffa gourds. And they’re all natural and biodegradable scrub sponges too. No plastic scrub pads for our household! (Have I mentioned lately how much I. Hate. Plastic??!!)

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.

Luffa Loofah Gourd biodegradable compostable plastic-free scrub cleaning sponge - cutting out the core. #TexasHomesteader

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

Luffa Loofah Gourd biodegradable compostable plastic-free scrub cleaning sponge - removing the core with scissors. #TexasHomesteader

Using my scissors I carefully remove the last rib holding the luffa core to the fibrous outside of the luffa. There!

Cleaning Up 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 section 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 Luffa 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.

Luffa Loofah Gourd biodegradable compostable plastic-free scrub cleaning sponge - cutting sponge in half with scissors. #TexasHomesteader

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 (or loofah) is a scrub sponge you can grow in your garden! All natural, biodegradable and compostable too. #TexasHomesteader

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 Loofah Gourd biodegradable compostable plastic-free scrub cleaning luffa sponge - cleaning dishes with soap. #TexasHomesteader

Luffa Is Biodegradable

After months & moths of scrubbing,= the luffa sponge will begin to 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 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 giving!

Luffa sponge can be composted when it gets old. #TexasHomesteader

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: Soap Gifts

You know that RancherMan & I prefer to make Homemade Christmas Gifts. That’s the main reason I planted them 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.

Luffa (or loofah) dried and cut into disks, melt-n-pour soap added for scrubbing soap Christmas gift. #TexasHomesteader

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!

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.

Luffa (or loofah) gourd dried and cut into disks to save soap on edge of sink. #TexasHomesteader

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 larger luffa sections 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.)

Soap and scrubbing will keep chiggers from biting you for days. #TexasHomesteader

As you can see, luffa (loofah) have many different uses. I’m so glad I planted them and got such a bountiful harvest!

~TxH~

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2 thoughts on “How To Grow Your Own Plastic-Free Scrub Sponge

  1. candace ford

    Mercifully we don’t have chiggers here in our part of western Oregon. Plenty of other annoying pests to deal with tho. Mosquitos are common and after a rain any open container or bucket with even a small amount of water will have the “wigglers” as we have always called that part of the life cycle of skeeters. I don’t see them in any of the several bird baths we have so maybe the birds get some of them. On another note I follow and often communicate with a blogger who writes about the dangers we humans pose to the earth. And I hadn’t given it much thought that we sometimes use those microfiber cloths to clean our glasses and and other things – they leave tiny little fibers behind that then end up in waterways which isn’t good. I often throw them in with a load of clothes and of course we are on a septic system out here so there they go. I thought Whew!!! I’m not adding to the problem. OOPS hold the phone, we do, on rare occasions have our septic pumped, now I have to worry about where the pump people dispose of that. GAAAAK!!! Technology seems to be conspiring against us! Take good care and continue doing all the good things that you do.

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      You’re so lucky you don’t deal with chiggers. Even trying to be very mindful, I still find myself bothered with them from time to time. And the microfiber cloth – true fact. Micro-plastics are a bigger and bigger issue that is really just now coming to the forefront of the plastic fight. Few people know about or think about microfiber and fabrics like spandex, polyester, etc. creating an issue in the laundry water, which has to go somewhere. I’ve been striving for cotton clothing (although growing cotton has its own issues, to me it’s the lesser evil) and buying nearly all of my clothing used so fewer new items need to be manufactured for my use. I feel that most of the micro-plastics are sloughed off in the beginning of the fabric’s life, so it’s just a little way I try to be mindful. We can’t live completely zero waste, but we each can do a little. ~TxH~

      Reply

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