These days there is a hype about organic and natural products for body care and home use. Many people are trying to shift towards organic and natural products, as they seem to be more eco-friendly.
Also, these products are termed as more safe to use compared to chemical based products. However, choosing products for body care or home care can be quite challenging as there are many factors involved. One needs to keep in mind one's own health, the eco-friendliness of the product they use, and the effectiveness of the product.
This can be a little complicated as one needs to know about the manufacturing process of the product to determine how eco-friendly the product is. Getting to know the ingredients present in the product also helps to understand if the product is safe to be used for daily use or not. One such product under debate is the sponge. By sponges, I mean cleaning and bath sponges. There are various types of sponges, and main categories are natural and synthetic sponges.
Here are some arguments for and against that will help you make a conscientious choice for the bath and cleaning sponges.
Difference Between Natural Sponges and Synthetic Sponges
Argument for Synthetic Sponges
Synthetic cleaning sponges made from wood pulp are considered to be pretty environment friendly. Thinking, why? This is because no harmful byproducts occur during their manufacturing and the trimmings are simply ground and recycled back. Also, synthetic sponges are cheaper and easier to find. One more advantage of synthetic sponges over natural ones are that they can be cleaned easily. You can simply soak them in soapy water with some alcohol, then wash it and dry in a microwave or under the sun.
Synthetic sponges are available in a lot of variety. There are some more sub-types of synthetic sponges. There are highly absorbent and non absorbent varieties. Each variety has its own benefit. Non absorbent ones are good for scrubbing the body. After bath one can simply wash them with plain water and hang them for drying. There are highly absorbent sponges which are good for wiping and cleaning windows, window sills, cars and boats. Certain characteristics of these highly absorbent sponges make them very popular for such cleaning purposes. Cleaning synthetic sponges can be cut to any size you want, they are ideal for cleaning textured surfaces, they are highly absorbent and easy to rinse. These sponges also have an even texture and good elasticity.
Argument Against Synthetic Sponges
Synthetic sponges are generally made using cellulose wood fibers or foamed plastic polymers. Many people believe that using wood pulp for manufacturing synthetic sponges encourage logging. These sponges are not 100% natural and so can be quite harsh on skin. Especially on sensitive skin synthetic sponges are not recommended.
Certain synthetic sponges which are antibacterial contain the chemical triclosan. This chemical is an antimicrobial which is used in synthetic sponges to keep plague at bay. This is to prevent the growth of many harmful microorganisms on the sponge. This chemical is said to be harmful to health as it can have a negative effect on the nervous system and hormones. If somebody has allergy to such chemicals or they have a sensitive skin then using it on their face or body for scrubbing can cause irritation and other health problems. One type of synthetic sponge is made using polyurethane foam. These sponges may be the best for cleaning, however, they are not so eco-friendly, as their manufacturing process depends on hydrocarbons which are considered to be ozone-depleting.
Argument for Natural Sponges
Natural sponges are gentle and a good way to exfoliate the skin. They are not as abrasive as the synthetic sponges. Though, many synthetic loofahs available today are softer and gentle on skin. Natural sponges come in two types, the sea sponges and the loofah sponges, also known as luffa sponge. Two types of sea sponges are generally harvested to create exfoliating sponges, these varieties are the honeycomb and silky smooth fina. Sea sponges are animals and can be harvested quite easily. Plant sponges called luffas are coarse in texture and help in skin polishing. They are also used to make many luffa soaps.
Natural sea sponges used for cleaning are considered by many professionals to be much better than cleaning synthetic sponges. This is because they are firm and very durable. These sponges are also more dense and absorbent. Many users say that the amount of water expelling and absorbing capacity of sea sponges is higher compared to synthetic ones. This way a lot of effort in cleaning is saved, as one doesn't have to readily clean the sponge.
Argument Against Natural Sponges
Certain biologists believe that sea sponges are under threat. As many factors like global warming, chemicals emitted in sea, sewage discharge, and over-harvesting can cause sea sponges to become extinct. Sea sponges are actually animals which grow by filtering small organisms present in the sea water. Also, growing sea sponges can be a long process which take up to many years.
Certain environmentalists believe that instead of using sea sponges for cleaning purposes; they should be protected as the chemicals released by sea sponges can be used to develop new medicines. Sea sponges also serve as an important source of food for the endangered hawksbill sea turtle. This prehistoric animal's population will be further affected if the number of sea sponges decline.
The debate on natural sponges Vs. synthetic sponges is surrounded by many arguments. Hence, a simpler approach is to lessen the use of bath sponges, as they can be abrasive on the skin. Also, if you have acne prone skin then scrubbing your face with a sponge can only make the acne worse. Many dermatologists advice that people with dry skin should not use soap everyday for bathing. Only the underarms and genitals should be cleaned with a mild soap twice a day, while the body can be washed with plain water. As far as scrubbing the body is concerned, one can use some body scrubs made with coarse rice powder and yogurt.
People with a normal skin type can simply use a bath sponge once or twice a week for exfoliating the dead skin, and apply a moisturizer for better skin care. However, if you have to use a sponge then simply use a luffa sponge. It is natural and effective for cleaning. Also, it comes from drying of a vine, so it is readily available and seems to be the safest to the body and most eco-friendly. Regarding cleaning purpose of the sponge one needs to experiment with both the types of sponges - natural and synthetic. This is because both the sponges have their own characteristics which make them effective for cleaning purpose.
No matter which kind of bath sponge you choose, if you feel that the sponge has been used for months or seems to have some growth on it replace it every few months to avoid any skin infections. As for cleaning sponges, it all comes down to personal preference because one need to find which sponge gives the best result.