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I’ve mentioned before that I love my netting-sponge-on-a-stick – it’s great for washing conditioner off your back, and for reaching your feet when you’re too sore to bend over (thanks, dance comp training). I’ve been using a sponge on a plastic handle from Daiso (which cost a whole $2.80) but recently it looks like they’ve decided to discontinue it, with no good replacement.
So I grabbed one from Chemist Warehouse… but alas, the stick is made of wood, and the mesh sponge is super dense, which mean it’s not going to dry out properly, which is pretty much THE biggest issue for me.
Why Do Shower Sponges Need to Dry?
We tend to think of soap as clean, but bacteria can still thrive even with regular soaping of your sponge!
The number one thing that makes bacteria grow is water. That’s why there’s a robust preservative system in every properly formulated water-based beauty product.
It’s no different in your shower. If your sponge doesn’t dry properly, you get bacterial growth, which is a problem because you tend to use the sponge on your skin. If you scrub it over broken skin (e.g. your leg after shaving, or just overly vigorous sponging), you can get an infection. The infections are usually rashes that look like pimples or insect bites.
There are a lot of case reports of sponges infecting people – usually healthy people who don’t have immune problems. For example:
- 13 cases of Pseudomonas aeruginosa skin infections from synthetic shower sponges
- This woman had Pseudomonas aeruginosa folliculitis from using a shower loofah that wasn’t dried thoroughly between uses
- A 3 month-old baby got an ear infection from a bath sponge
I wouldn’t be surprised if some of my bacne is actually folliculitis – it seems to happen all the damn time.
Unfortunately, simply changing your sponge regularly doesn’t necessarily get rid of the problem – one study found that new, sterile loofah sponge in distilled water could still allow bacteria to grow. And synthetic sponges can still grow bacteria, since they don’t dry completely and collect dead skin cells that bacteria can feed off.
The best things to do to keep your sponge less icky:
- change your sponge regularly
- decontaminate it in a 10% solution of bleach for a few minutes weekly
- let it dry out in between uses
The Scrunchable Shower Sponge
It’s hard to dry out a dense sponge, even if it’s made of mesh, so I was delighted when I came across this sponge in Daiso:
It’s a sponge that you can stretch out or scrunch up with the string – you scrunch it up to use it on your body, then stretch it out to dry. Genius!
So why not combine the sponge-on-a-stick and the scrunchable sponge? That, Dear Reader, is what I did.
DIY Scrunchable Shower Sponge on a Stick
What you need
- A piece of mesh netting – I bought a $1 shower sponge (much like these) and took it apart and cut it up to get three less-dense sponges. I used one piece for this.
- A stick with holes – I used the stick from an old shower sponge.
- A piece of ribbon or string
- A bead or fancy spring cord lock – I grabbed a plastic cord lock off a reuseable shopping bag
1. Fold the netting in half.
2. The Daiso sponge has a channel sewn in for the string to slide through. I’m lazier and my mesh has big holes, so I wove the ribbon down the middle using a running stitch. I separated the string and poked one end through the netting near the fold in the middle, then put them back together and wove the doubled ribbon down the middle. Each stitch was about 2 inches long.
3. Put the ribbon ends through two separate holes in the stick, then put the two pieces through the cord lock and tie the ends together to keep the lock on. Tie it a few more times so it doesn’t slip through. Done!
You can also improve this by attaching the netting to the stick as well, so you can just pull the stick and the folded end apart to expand the sponge. You can also skip the stick to make your own regular expandable netting sponge!
Scary Shower Sponge Story References
Maniatis AN et al. Pseudomonas aeruginosa folliculitis due to non-O:11 serogroups: acquisition through use of contaminated synthetic sponges, Clin Infect Dis 1995, 21, 437–439. DOI: 10.1093/clinids/21.2.437
Bottone EJ & Perez AA, Pseudomonas aeruginosa folliculitis acquired through use of a contaminated loofah sponge: an unrecognized potential public health problem, J Clin Microbiol 1993, 31, 480–483.
Sheth KJ et al., Pseudomonas aeruginosa otitis externa in an infant associated with a contaminated infant bath sponge, Pediatrics 1986, 77, 920–921.
Frenkel LM, Pseudomonas folliculitis from sponges promoted as beauty aids, J Clin Microbiol 1993, 31, 2838.
Bottone EJ et al., Loofah sponges as reservoirs and vehicles in the transmission of potentially pathogenic bacterial species to human skin, J Clin Microbiol 1994, 32, 469–472.
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