Question: What gets wet as it dries? Answer: A towel! If you love a good Dad Joke, then that’s funny. But what’s not so funny is what else might be lurking in your bathroom besides drying towels.
Lots of us use some kind of sponge or loofah in the shower to scrub off the dirt of the day, exfoliate our skin, and help us to feel refreshed and rejuvenated. But germs are invisible and appearances can be deceiving; your shower loofah, rather than getting you clean, might just be making things much, much worse.
Here’s why. While the water washes away all those soapy suds from your skin and the towel leaves you bone dry, smooth, and lovely, the numerous layers of your loofah or shower scrub take much longer to dry. In the meantime, the warm, damp layers provide the ideal breeding ground for a multitude of nasties.
It may not be immediately apparent, but over time your skin may grow dull, you might break out in spots, and open cuts might even become infected. Yuck.
Loofahs are both adorable and convenient, so we’re not suggesting you stop using them altogether. They are pretty, colorful, are great at lathering up soap or shower gel, and brilliantly exfoliate the skin. But they may not be as cute as they look on the inside.
Dermatologist J. Matthew Knight claims that these “puffs” can do more damage than they do cleaning. As the puff gently scrapes away dead skin cells, the cells get caught between its layers before they can be washed away.
After only a few hours, a damp puff, loofah, or sponge can breed yeast, mold, and mildew Knight says, as quoted by Little Things. As a result, innocent sponge users could even end up with respiratory infections. That’s pretty shocking.
It’s nasty, we know, but remember we told you that you don’t have to ditch the loofah completely? You have options.
Of course if you’re up for the challenge, you could always trial a Marie Kondo-worthy minimalist approach and chuck out everything but the bar of soap. Soaps are pretty complex these days; some contain essential oils, many smell incredible, and a number of brands even contain exfoliating ingredients so you can scrub even without the scrub. But you may get a little less in the way of suds.
If you can’t bear to bid farewell to sumptuous lather, and that’s probably most of us, then a natural loofah is the way to go. While still fibrous, they are less dense than synthetic loofahs.
If you rinse them well and let them air dry, they will harbor far fewer dangerous bacteria. Also, don’t get lazy; it’s a great idea to replace a natural loofah about once every 30 days.
Speaking of natural, a natural sea sponge also works perfectly. Far superior to their synthetic cousins, they don’t contain any harsh chemicals and their natural enzymes will prevent bacteria buildup.
An informative video from Tech Insider explains that you can clean your natural loofah or sponge in a mixture of one part bleach to nine parts water. Rumor has it that you can also kill the germs in natural sponges by giving them a quick blitz in the microwave (who knew?), but trust your nose; if your sponge or loofah smells funny, then ditch it and buy a new one!
Perhaps you are thoroughly put off by all this talk of breeding bacteria, and if so, there’s a great rudimentary alternative: the washcloth! The terry cloth kind (think Grandma’s house), are cheap and ubiquitous and will last for years. You can even throw them in the washing machine with the rest of your clothes.
So panic not! Just shower smart; your glowing skin will thank you for it.