I’ve been on the search for a natural scrubby sponge that has some scouring power, doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, comes with little or no packaging, and can be composted at the end of its life. I guess that’s a lot to ask of a sponge, because I’ve come up short in my search. I was sorely disappointed in the Scotch-Brite Greener Clean Sponges, and only marginally satisfied with the Twist brand sponges. I’m sure there are other natural scrubby sponges available, but most on the market tend to be expensive, ineffective compared to their synthetic counterparts, and come with unnecessary packaging.
Not one to give up easily, I decided to design my own DIY natural scrubby sponge using a simple vegetable cellulose pop-up sponge for the core and enclosing it in a knitted natural twine cover. I recruited my mom, who is an experienced knitter, to help design and test the pattern. She made a few scrubby sponges of slightly different designs and I put them to the test. We decided a straight knit pattern is not only the easiest to make, but provided plenty of scrubbing power. This is such a simple project that I’m not sure directions are necessary, but I’ve provided some below. Sisal is not the easiest material to knit with, but once you get the hang of it the project goes quickly.
The only materials needed are pop-up sponges and sisal twine. You can buy the pop-up sponges on Amazon, but I found them to be significantly cheaper at my local Trader Joe’s, plus I avoided the extra packaging that comes with shipping. Sisal twine can be purchased at your local hardware store. I calculated the cost for each scrubby sponge to be about one dollar. The only waste from the project was two thin cellophane wrappers covering the package of 12 sponges and the ball of twine.
My first scrubby sponge held up well, lasting six months before I tossed it into the compost. The inner sponge is great for holding and lathering the soap and the outer knit layer provides great scrubbing power. The sponge can be washed in the top rack of the dishwasher, or placed damp in the microwave for one minute to disinfect.
- Sisal twine
- Pop-up sponges made from natural vegetable cellulose
- Size 7 knitting needles
- Darning needle
- Cast on 20 stitches. You may need to adjust this based on the sponges you use and your knitting gauge. You want the knitted cover to comfortably wrap over the sponge without leaving gaps or constricting the sponge from fully expanding.
- All rows knit 20 stitches, repeating until the piece measures 5-inches or approximately 1-inch longer than sponge.
- Bind off.
- Dampen your sponge to expand to its full size and allow to dry.
- Place expanded and dried sponge on one side of sisal cover and fold cover in half encasing the sponge.
- Using your darning needle and the tails of the sisal twine, tightly stitch ends and side closed.
Let me know if you make my DIY natural scrubby sponge. I’d love to hear your feedback!