The name ‘loofah’ is attached to different types of bathroom products used to scrub and exfoliate the skin, making them popular shower accessories to care for the skin. Loofahs are a staple in many homes, and in this article, we explore options to avoid the plastic variety and some of the best choices for eco-friendly loofah alternatives.
Loofah sponges exist in two main forms. We have natural products derived from plant fibers and the popular synthetic loofahs.
Most often, you won’t find natural loofahs easy to locate in grocery stores. As such, we’re sharing some of our top picks and the best eco-friendly loofah options you can choose from and shop for online.
Not only do these body wash products support your skincare routine, but they come from natural materials. Many of them are also vegan-friendly.
Related: For elsewhere in your sustainable bathroom routine, check out our tips to go plastic-free in the bathroom, grab a sustainable robe for after-shower relaxation and make sure you're stocked up with zero-waste body wash and zero-waste shampoo for minimal waste.
A shower or bath not only cleans the body, but refreshes the soul, and clears the mind. Whether you enjoy a cold or hot shower, there’s no denying that cleansing your body adds to your self-care routine.
The routine becomes better for the planet when using eco-friendly alternatives to plastic sponges. Instead of the usual synthetic sponge, which can harbor bacteria and leach microplastics, a natural loofah sponge is a chemical-free, cruelty-free, non-toxic, vegan, and plastic-free product that allows you to enjoy your shower guilt-free.
A natural loofah body sponge is perfect for cleaning and exfoliating your skin; even better, these natural products are 100% compostable and biodegradable. For this reason, once you’re done using it, you can simply wash it to remove any soap residue and throw it in your garden compost.
These products use materials that support a zero-waste lifestyle, unlike the oil-based resources used to make those frilly plastic numbers, and the plastic waste they generate at the end of their useful life.
Although the most common use of a natural loofah is as a bath sponge, it can also serve multiple purposes. These include washing dishes and scrubbing bathroom walls and floors. The rough surface of fiber effectively cleans tough dirt stains.
Eco-friendly loofahs also reduce the environmental impact that synthetic loofahs cause.
However, just like other plastic shower poufs, moist bathroom environments can serve as a breeding ground for microbes. Therefore, you need to maintain your natural or organic loofahs properly. The best practice is to wring it dry and keep it in a cool, dry place immediately after use.
There are a plethora of low-cost, eco-friendly, and germ-free loofahs in the market. These products can enhance your shower experience with their natural exfoliating properties while eliminating environmental concerns.
Here are some of the best loofah alternatives available in the market. Get ready to have guilt-free showers as you protect the planet.
Quick Links to the best zero-waste eco-friendly loofahs:
Dried Egyptian Gourd
These loofah sponges come from 100% natural materials, specifically from natural loofah plants grown in Egypt. It exfoliates your skin evenly, leaving you feeling clean.
What we love about this product is the way it blends both a hard and soft scrub. The lightly textured exfoliating pads get rid of dead cells, even on sensitive skin. On the other side, there’s a soft terry cloth fabric to aid the removal of oils.
The makers specifically designed this product to give you long-term usage. Whenever its life span comes to an end, you can easily dispose of it or add it to your compost.
This product comes in a generous natural size from the same brand as our number one pick to cover more of your body in a single pass.
This all-natural loofah is perfectly suited to rejuvenate dull skin to reveal a smoother appearance, exfoliating, scrubbing, and removing flaky skin. Its practical hanging loop adds a beautiful and luxurious touch to your bathroom.
Natural Loofah Plants
If you’re looking to swap your plastic poufs for something eco-friendly, this natural sponge is right for you. Since the producers don’t bleach this product, it comes in an off-white, natural color. It’s perfect for everyday use and offers natural cleansing properties.
You can comfortably add it to your compost pile at the end of its lifecycle. If it ends up in the trash, it’ll quickly biodegrade in the soil.
This sponge supports the deep cleansing of your skin. Simply soak it in water and lather it up with your favorite soap to fully enjoy this product. Made from natural resources, it is not harsh on the skin but gently tackles dull-looking skin.
This eco-friendly, natural exfoliating sponge serves as an ideal washcloth companion to keep your skin soft, fresh, and smooth. It gives you a deep clean while unclogging your pores to allow your skin to breathe. It also prepares your skin to receive moisturizers.
If you struggle with dry skin in areas like your heels, or ingrown hairs, this product specifically targets areas like that. It supports the shedding of hard, dry skin to reveal a smoother surface and suits all skin types. Made with ethical manufacturing, you can't go wrong.
This body scrubber is ideal for not just general cleansing but also exfoliating. This biodegradable sponge has a lightly textured surface, which, compared to many loofahs, provides a gentler scrub. The surface makes it ideal for sensitive skin. It’s easy and flexible to hold and can reach tricky areas without straining your hand.
Pair with organic soap for the perfect eco-friendly bath experience.
This business locally and home grows its luffa in Southern California. Additionally, the end product doesn’t feature any processing, leaving you with an organic sponge.
Coming in rounds, you can use these one at a time and replace them with the next as they wear out. The abrasive scrubber enhances and exfoliates the entire body to aid better surface circulation.
By being homegrown, the business significantly reduces its environmental footprint. You can completely compost it at the end of the product’s lifespan as it’s made of 100% natural plant fiber. You can decide to bury it in your garden or perhaps add it to your compost for decomposition.
As a zero-waste loofah alternative to synthetic loofahs, this product is 100% plant-based fiber, free of harsh chemicals, and non-toxic. The makers avoid bleaching it to maintain its natural state, which means it comes in a slightly yellowish color.
By including these natural loofahs as part of your hygiene habits, you’ll be caring for your whole body and the natural environment.
As a loofah alternative from a different type of organic and natural plant-based materials, this sisal shower sponge is a great option.
Similar to the actual loofah plant-based products listed above, these gloves simply lather up with your choice of body wash or soap, and gently exfoliate the skin. Instead of a loofah, choose a gentler and more environmentally friendly scrub with these sustainable alternatives.
There’s a high chance you’ve used plastic loofahs at some point. Perhaps, there’s one currently hanging in your shower or bathroom.
It might be news to you that most of what we regard as loofahs are not actual loofahs. Natural loofahs are rough sponges that come from a dried tropical plant fruit related to cucumbers and melons.
The loofah plant (luffa aegyptiaca) products are harvested from nature and were first used as bathing tools in ancient Rome.
To enjoy a natural loofah alternative full benefits, you simply need to wet the sponge before use. Worldwide, people generally adopt these sponges due to their ability to produce a gentle lather whenever combined with any soap or body wash.
One of the problems with plastic loofahs and those made from synthetic material is that they generate bacterial growth.
This growth can heighten when you hang them unused for days. Sometimes, leaving them for a few hours without proper rinsing builds up to a bacterial paradise.
Using non-natural loofahs to wash your body can lead to allergic reactions and acne challenges.
Apart from this problem, a major environmental challenge with plastic loofahs is that they shed microplastics. Most of them send bits of tiny microplastics into the shower drain and sewage system.
As a result, these bits escape into the ocean, thereby adding to the growing level of plastic pollution in the ocean. Since marine animals can’t digest these microplastics, it leads to a blockage in their digestive systems. This process also alters their growth, feeding patterns, and their reproductive outputs.
Since they are composed of synthetic materials, plastic loofahs can take hundreds of years to decompose. Naturally, this contributes to the world’s pollution challenges, leading to the build-up of products in the environment.
Many people use plastic loofahs to exfoliate dead skin cells that clump together on the top layer of the skin. Also, the exfoliation process preserves the youthful and healthy skin cells underneath. However, this comes with challenges that affect our environment.
Although some people opt for products like using a silicone exfoliating brush with soft bristles as an alternative, these don’t biodegrade. Whereas others have nylon bristles that similarly aren't good for the environment.
Also, many brushes often come with a plastic handle. Instead of these synthetic products, natural alternatives get the job done while protecting the environment.
Compared to the regular colorful synthetic sponge, the natural loofah is 100% organic material free from harmful substances making it an excellent eco-friendly option. The most distinctive difference between natural loofahs and plastic loofahs is the materials used in making them.
Additionally, natural loofahs are often stronger than regular synthetic sponges. This property of these eco-friendly products makes them better for exfoliation and, in other uses, cleaning areas. They are generally easy to clean to prevent bacteria. All you need to do is rinse out residues and leave them to completely dry.
However, sometimes, you may need to soak your traditional loofahs in a natural solution. The sustainable loofah alternatives in this article are a great addition to a waste-free bathroom and plastic-free living.
Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.
Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.