The basis of most cleaning projects, the sponge is an important part of getting rid of grime. Grabbing for a sponge to tidy up the counters or wash down the family car is a daily occurrence that doesn't grab much attention from the average homeowner. The right sponge for the right project can cut down your cleaning time, reduce your carbon footprint and beef up your cleaning power.
The best sponge can be used to make a stove top shine, say adios to soap scum from shiny sink faucets and rub down the outdoor furniture without leaving scratches or grime behind.
When looking for a good sponge, consider its absorbency and scrubbing action. The more it can hold soapy water, the less time you'll waste returning it to a tub or turning on the faucet.
There are many types of sponges. Microfiber sponges are soft and can be used on any surface that can't be nicked, such as cars and windows, but don't have a great scrubbing factor to remove serious dirt from surfaces. Cellulose sponges are best for dishes, food surfaces, such as counters, and bathroom areas. The abrasive side can be used to get at tough stains, while the non-abrasive side is good for wiping down surfaces every day. The thick, absorbent natural sponges are much more expensive than man-made sponges, but they can have a better pay off for large jobs. Polyurethane foam sponges offer a higher level of quick cleaning, but aren't environmentally friendly as they don't break down as well as the traditional cellulose sponge.
Natural Sponge Benefits
Natural sponges that hail from the deep sea have been in use since the Romans brought it up from the sea floor to clean their auditoriums. They are softer and don't disintegrate with rough use as modern sponges tend to do. They are hardy and more absorbent than man-made sponges, but there is a limited source in the sea that has some environmentalists slightly worried about their longevity.
Artificial Sponge’s MakeUp
Most of today's artificial sponges are made of a combination of wood pulp – or cellulose – hemp fibers, sodium sulphate crystals and topped off with chemical softeners. The DuPont Company actually perfected the modern sponge manufacturing process in the mid-20th century, and people have been happily scrubbing with various artificial types since. Wood pulp as a base is a fairly environmentally-friendly material for sponges and doesn't require extra logging. Trimmings are ground up to be recycled into sponges and any leftovers are then returned to make more sponges.
Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for a variety of clients, including The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal Home section and other national publications. As a professional writer she has researched, interviewed sources and written about home improvement, interior design and related business trends. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her full bio and clips can be viewed at www.vegaswriter.com.