Sea sponges are nature’s very own scrubbing tools. These deep-sea creatures possess special anti-bacterial properties that prevent them from developing mildew. This makes them ideal for daily use and storage, particularly in bathrooms. However, these sponges do still accumulate dirt and grime over time.
Therefore, you will likely need to clean your natural sponges at some point depending on how often you use them – many choose to deep clean their sponges every few weeks. However, the cleaning process for natural sponges is slightly different from normal sponges as you need to be careful to avoid damaging their natural structures.
To clean a natural sponge, you will need to first soak and remove the dirt and grime embedded in the folds and fibers. You should then apply a preferred cleaning solution then rinse the sponge, before letting it dry and storing it away.
In this guide, we will walk you through how to clean natural sponges, what to avoid during the cleaning process, and how to properly maintain your natural sponges to make them last for a long time.
1. Soak to Remove Dirt & Grime
The first step in the cleaning process involves getting rid of the dirt and grime that have accumulated within the sponge’s folds and structures. You can do this by adding hot water to a bowl, submerging the natural sponge in it, and then squeezing it to remove excess water.
Do note that you’ll want to ensure that the water temperature is hot but still comfortable to touch. Allow the water-soaked sponge to sit in the bowl for about 5 minutes before removing it and squeezing out the water.
You will likely see plenty of dirt and grime-laden water escape from the sponge and fall back into the bowl. If this happens, you should throw out the water and replace it with clean hot water.
Finally, repeat this step several times until the water you squeeze out from your natural sponge runs clear. It’s time to move to the next step!
2. Apply an Appropriate Cleaning Solution
Now it is time to give the natural sponge a deep clean. The best way to do this is with the help of an appropriate cleaning solution. You can use a wide variety of solutions for this step but listed down below are some of the most commonly used ones that we highly recommend.
Using Gentle Dish Soap
Gentle dish soap is great for cleaning natural sponges because it gets rid of tough impurities clinging to their folds and fibers. It’s important to avoid using tough degreasers, as their chemicals can lead to irreversible damage.
We recommend using the Seventh Generation Liquid Dish Soap, a gentle plant-based product that is strong enough to remove dirt from the natural sponge. The dish soap is made from biodegradable ingredients such as sodium lauryl sulfate, lauramine oxide, and glycerin, all of which are gentle on your natural sponge.
Here’s how to use clean your natural sponge using a gentle dish soap:
- Mix 2 drops of gentle dish soap with 1 cup of warm water, and stir the mixture to ensure it is fully combined.
- Submerge the natural sponge in the cleaning solution and let it sit for about 5 minutes.
- Lift up the sponge and squeeze out the cleaning solution.
- Repeat the submerging, lifting, and squeezing processes a few times until the sponge is entirely clean.
Using Baking Soda
Another effective cleaning solution is baking soda. It’s an ingredient that you likely already have available at home. Baking soda works as an excellent cleaning agent because it is an alkali that removes grease and dirt when combined with water.
In addition to helping clean the natural sponge, baking soda also revitalizes the sponge’s natural structure, boosting its overall durability.
You can create and use a baking soda-based cleaning solution by following the steps below:
- Combine 1 tablespoon of baking soda with 1 cup of warm water and mix until the baking soda is fully dissolved.
- Submerge the natural sponge in the cleaning solution and allow it to sit for about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Lift up the sponge and squeeze out the excess solution.
- If the excess water comes out dirty, discard the solution and make a new one before repeating the process.
- Repeat until the excess water becomes clear from dirt and grime.
Using Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is another ingredient that can be used to make an excellent and effective cleaning solution for natural sponges. Many people prefer apple cider vinegar because it’s natural and can be found at most grocery stores.
However, you should remember to use apple cider vinegar for your cleaning solution rather than white vinegar. This is because white vinegar has a strong unpleasant scent that will linger when used for cleaning your natural sponge.
Follow the steps below on how to clean your sponge using apple cider vinegar:
- Mix 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with 1 cup of warm water and stir it thoroughly.
- Submerge the sponge in the apple cider vinegar cleaning solution for about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Lift up the sponge and squeeze out the cleaning solution.
- Repeat the submerging, lifting, and squeezing processes a few times until the sponge is completely clean.
Using Tea Tree Oil
Tea Tree Oil is a special ingredient that has many special uses. Its antibacterial properties make it an excellent disinfectant, so you can create an effective cleaning solution by combining it with warm water.
Here’s how to clean your natural sponge using tea tree oil:
- Mix 4 drops of tea tree oil with 1 cup of warm water.
- Submerge the sponge in the tea tree oil cleaning solution and allow it to sit for about 2 minutes.
- Squeeze out any excess cleaning solution from the sponge and repeat until the natural sponge is clean.
Using Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is a powerful cleaning agent that’s perfect for cleaning natural sponges that are overdue for a deep clean. This compound effectively removes bacteria and fungi while restoring the natural sponge’s original color as a bonus.
You can clean your natural sponges by following the steps below:
- Combine 1 part hydrogen peroxide with 1 part water.
- Soak the sponge in the hydrogen peroxide cleaning solution for about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Lift up and squeeze out the cleaning solution; avoid letting it sit in the solution for a long time.
- Repeat this process a few times until the natural sponge is clean.
3. Carefully Rinse It
The next step is to rinse the sponge to get rid of any excess solution. To do that, simply fill up a new bowl with warm water and soak the sponge for about 5 minutes. Then lift the sponge and squeeze out all the excess water.
Next, run the sponge under the tap to rinse it with cold water before carefully squeezing out all the excess water. You can do this a few times just to ensure every bit of the cleaning solution is washed out completely.
4. Dry the Natural Sponge
Once the washing and rinsing processes are done, you must dry the sponge. Squeezing the sponge should have already gotten most of the water out. But if you feel that the sponge is still damp, you can roll it in a dry towel to get rid of some of the remaining water.
This also helps to speed up the drying process. After that, place the natural sponge in a mesh bag and hang it to dry in a well-ventilated area.
Mesh bags are great for this purpose because they allow moisture to escape and dry air to continually come in contact with the damp sponge.
4. Store Sponge Properly
Once your natural sponge is completely dry, you can place it back in its usual storage area. Many people invest in sponge-holding racks or trays to store their natural sponges. Such items allow the sponge to be protected from sitting water while in storage, which prevents bacteria growth.
Things to Avoid When Cleaning Natural Sponges
Natural sponges are fairly durable, however, you should still be gentle when cleaning them to preserve their cellular structure and maximize their lifespan. We have listed some key things to avoid when cleaning them below.
- Don’t Use Harsh Chemicals – Harsh chemicals such as bleach or heavy-duty degreasers can damage the natural sponge’s cellular structure, causing them to lose flexibility and break down. For this reason, you should avoid using them and stick with gentle dish soap or other homemade cleaning solutions.
- Don’t Use Boiling Water – You should use hot water that you can comfortably handle during the cleaning process, but it should never be boiling. This is because cleaning a natural sponge with boiling water will cause it to harden and may also burn your hands.
- Don’t Use Washing Machine – Washing machines are rough when cleaning, and they can permanently warp the cleaning sponge. For this reason, you shouldn’t use them to clean your natural sponge.
- Don’t Twist The Sponge – Twisting your natural sponge damages its structure. Thus, you should stick to simply squeezing your sponge during the entire cleaning process.
- Don’t Dry The Sponge In A Dryer – Drying your sponge in the dryer will cause it to harden. Instead, you should squeeze out all the excess water and simply allow it to air dry in a mesh bag.
Tips On How to Maintain Natural Sponges
You will need to care for your natural sponges if you want to extend their lifespan. Here are some great tips and tricks to keep your natural sponges looking pristine.
- Rinse Away Residue After Every Use – Rinsing away residue after each wash will prevent residue from building up. This will also reduce how frequently you will need to give the sponge a deep clean.
- Air Dry After Every Use – Air drying your sponge after each use helps prevent bacteria from growing in the sponge. To air dry, gently but firmly squeeze out excess water and place it in a mesh bag to hang it up.
- Use a Sponge Rack to Provide Ventilation – Store your sponge on a sponge rack to keep it away from sitting water and to provide good ventilation.
- Trim Frayed Edges Of Sponge With Scissors – Trimming frayed edges will keep your sponge smooth and make it more comfortable to use.
- Store Them In A Cool And Dry Area – Keep your natural sponge away from humidity as the air moisture can cause bacteria to grow.
- Deep Clean Them Frequently – Give your sponge a deep clean every two to three weeks to get rid of dirt and grime that has built up over time.
Sirinan is a self-proclaimed cleanaholic and the editor-in-chief of Cleaney. Apart from coming with up creative ways to keep her living spaces clean and tidy, she loves to read on rainy days.