Kitchn Love Letters

I Finally Found Kitchen Sponges That Don’t Get Totally Gross After a Week

published Mar 24, 2021
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Kitchen sponges are notorious for taking on some rather unpleasant traits. Most cheap grocery store sponges start to smell terrible after just a few uses, and they start to fall apart and deteriorate not long after. (And usually, this stinky smell is because they’re harboring bacteria.) This makes them an impractical item, despite serving an important dish-cleaning purpose.

Because of the speed at which most sponges start to fall apart and become useless, they’re actually one of the least sustainable items in the kitchen, getting thrown out again and again and replaced every week or two. 

I was getting a little fed up with this cycle, and in my now-many-months-long quest to make more sustainable swaps in my home, I looked for an alternative that would last longer and be made with more eco-conscious materials. And I found my new dream sponge. 

In my dish-cleaning life, I like to have a couple of tools available. While a dish scrubbing brush is definitely always on hand as well, I find that sponges are key for certain types of dishes or nooks and crannies that need a gentle touch. Sometimes a long dish brush is just too unwieldy, and overall a sponge works the best for me. (I also love how a traditional sponge suds up the soap in the way that, say, a silicone sponge can’t.) But the smelliness and falling apart in a week had to stop. 

Credit: Annie Burdick

Enter: the Refresh Scrubber Sponges from Full Circle Home. On the surface, they look almost identical to standard grocery store sponges. They don’t have a super-high price tag. (In fact you can find a 3-pack for $5.) But whatever magic they’ve concocted with these sponges puts them in a new league. Each one lasts me more than twice as a long as a cheap grocery store sponge — without falling apart or smelling at all.

Buy: Refresh Scrubber Sponges, $4.99 for three at Full Circle Home

Credit: Annie Burdick

There are two sides to these sponges. The more “abrasive” scrubbing side is made from recycled water bottles. (That’s right — these sponges last longer and are made from recycled plastic that would often otherwise end up in water systems or landfills.) And the yellow side is made from cellulose, a structural plant protein, like many other common sponge brands. For what it’s worth, I think it’s the recycled plastic side that makes these sponges extra-durable and hearty: When these sponges do reach the end of their lives, weeks later, the abrasive side is the one that starts to peel a bit first. 

Overall, I’m delighted by the swap to a product that is made with recycled plastic and goes the extra mile to create less frequent waste. There is no perfectly sustainable, waste-free sponge option out there, but this one is a great start. 

Do you have a sustainable sponge you love? Tell us about it in the comments below!