Most kitchen sponges are made from a combination of non-recyclable wood cellulose and petroleum-derived plastics, such as spun polypropylene fibers. They commonly contain microplastics that contaminate the ocean and linger in the environment, making a switch to biodegradable sponges one way to reduce microplastics in your home.
Here are the best biodegradable sponges.
Etee Loofie Scrubber kitchen sponges have a soft side for wiping and a rough side for scrubbing. The cloth side is a spongy cellulose-cotton and wood cellulose dishcloth. The scrubbing side is made of fibrous loofah plant material that won’t scratch dishes. The two sides are sewn together using cotton thread (rather than commonly used polyester thread) which makes this sturdy sponge reusable and fully biodegradable.
Sold individually or as a three-pack, Etee recommends replacing your scrubber sponge every three to five weeks, depending on how you use them. You can clean it regularly by adding it to the top rack of your dishwasher. It’s also fit for use in other parts of the house, including the bathroom.
Etee extends its no-plastic ethos to its packaging as well, shipping Loofie Scrubbrs in recycled cardboard, sealed with biodegradable cellulose tape. A portion of profits also go to socially-conscious initiatives including the Mississauga Food Bank (local to the Ontario manufacturer) and the WestCoast Children’s Clinic.
When your Loofie Scrubber is worn out, it can be composted or even buried in your garden, where it will decompose within a month.
Price at time of publish: $6
Much like the Etee Loofie, the Blueland Scrub Sponge is double-sided, with a cellulose sponge on one side and a loofah on the other. Also hand sewn with cotton thread, this sponge can be washed on the top rack of your dishwasher and composted when it’s worn out.
These sponges are available in packs of three or six. When you buy six, they are only about $3 each—a better deal than a three-pack Etee scrubbers. Blueland is one of several companies whose focus is on reducing plastic waste and using biodegradable packaging whenever possible.
Blueland is a Certified B Corp and Cradle to Cradle Certified which means the product must exceed standards for material health and reuse, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship, and social fairness.
Price at time of publish: $28
Cellulose is found in plant cell walls and extracted from wood pulp for use in paper and other products, including these biodegradable kitchen sponges from Zero Waste Club. While many other kitchen sponges combine cellulose with plastic fibers, these biodegradable, zero-waste sponges are made from 100% wood pulp.
Each Zero Waste Sponge can absorb up to ten times its weight in liquid, but also dry quickly to minimize bacteria growth. They can be washed in the dishwasher or microwaved to extend their usefulness, then composted or buried after a few weeks of use.
The Zero Waste Club sponges are sold in packs of two. Purchase contribute to environmental initiatives, including enviromental nonprofit 1% for the Planet.
Price at time of publish: $5
At first glance you might guess that natural loofah is made from a sea sponge or dried coral because of their coarse, spongy consistency and tubular shape. But they’re actually made from the fruit of the plant Luffa aegyptiaca, a vine-grown member of the squash family.
Clean Planetware Heirloom Mayan Loofahs are sourced from a single family farm in Guatemala, using Mayan heirloom variety seed. The growers don’t use pesticides or herbicides, and the loofah sponges are unprocessed, resulting in a vegan loofah that’s 100% plant fiber. As such, these Planetware loofahs are fully compostable, decomposing within 30 days when buried or added to a composting pile.
Available singly, or in packs of five, the flattened loofahs come in recycled and recyclable packaging. Clean Planetware is a Green America certified business, which sets standards for social justice practices, environmental sustainability, and transparency.
Price at time of publish: $4
Tough cleaning jobs, like burned on food or hardened grease require a tough dish sponge that can hold up to multiple uses. The Zero Waste Club Coconut Dish Scrubber replaces steel wool or nylon scrub pads with a scourer made from the fibrous “coir” that makes up the husk around the inner shells of a coconut. The upcycled coir fibers are sourced from coconut farm in India and bound together with rubber latex instead of plastic (those with a latex allergy should avoid). The result is an abrasive and durable scrubber that won’t scratch your cookware.
Packaged in a 100% recycled and recyclable unbleached box, with soy ink printing, the Coconut Dish Scrubber is sold in packs of five. Plus, Zero Waste Club plants a tree for each product sold.
Price at time of publish: $5
This cleansing sponge is made from the roots of the Konjac plant. Its roots are spun into a round puff that retains water. When soaked with warm water, it becomes an excellent scrubber, that gently exfoliates skin in combination with infused charcoal, which absorbs surface oils. The sponge is gentle enough for daily use, including for those with sensitive and acne-prone skin.
After its first use, which involves a 10-15 minute soak, the No Tox Life LUNA Charcoal Sponge will swell up with warm in about two minutes for daily cleaning. It can be used alone, or in combination with your preferred facial cleanser. When finished, simply rinse, squeeze out excess moisture, and hang dry using the built-in loop.
The LUNA Charcoal Sponge lasts for about three months, though boiling or microwave sanitizing can double its lifespan. Once you’re done with it, the 100% plant-based sponge can be composted.
Price at time of publish: $3
The EcoTools BioBlender is a vegan makeup sponge which has a unique shape designed to provide three different edge types for versatile makeup application, including a flat top edge to use under eyes. It’s also been certified as cruelty-free by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
The BioBlender is made from just five ingredients, including corn and a proprietary ingredient called bionanopol. Described by EcoTools as the “secret ingredient” behind the product’s biodegradability, bionanopol is a biodegradable foam that’s been certified as a biobased product by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, meaning it is made from renewable, natural materials. It’s been further certified compostable by the American Society of Testing and Materials International, using a testing protocol specific to plastics. While the exact nature of the bionanopol is secret, it might be part of a category of materials known as bioplastic, which has some environmental downsides.
Sold individually or as a two-pack, the EcoTools BioBlender packaging is printed with soy ink and certified biodegradable by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certified, which ensures that wood and paper products come from responsibly managed forests. Unlike disposable makeup songes, the BioBlender can be used for 30 days.
Price at time of publish: $6