What to Use Instead of a Loofah

different colored washcloths face cloths loofah and bathsponge

You probably have a loofah in your shower. It might hang from a hook or sit on a soapy shelf. That spongy exfoliator has become so commonplace in your routine, but it also introduces some health hazards. Have you given any thought about what to use instead of a loofah? 

A traditional loofah poses many risks, much like the sponge at your kitchen sink. It’s not something at the front of our minds, but perhaps it should be. There are plenty of alternatives to using a loofah, but before we look into those, we must analyze the specific benefits and risks that come with using a loofah.

Pros

Although we’re looking for alternatives of what to use instead of a loofah, loofahs do have their benefits.

Exfoliation

The rough texture of a loofah, when combined with a cleanser, can clear the dead skin cells off your body. Our bodies naturally shed skin cells about once a month, but scrubbing with a loofah can do a more thorough job of it. This process unclogs pores, leaving you feeling cleaner and looking more radiant.

Improved Circulation

Using a loofah is akin to a massage, bringing along many of those benefits. A massage stimulates your muscles and encourages lymph fluid to metabolize waste more efficiently. Increases in blood circulation translate into lower blood pressure and optimized body function.

Improved Skin Elasticity

The act of scrubbing stimulates the production of collagen, a key protein responsible for glowing complexions and reducing fine lines and wrinkles. Using a scrubber like a loofah can help slow the effects of aging by keeping your skin tight.

Cons

If you haven’t yet thought of what to use instead of a loofah, you probably will after reading about the dangers a loofah can pose.

Germs

A loofah typically lives in the shower, staying damp long after you’ve washed yourself off. This damp environment combined with poor air circulation turns the loofah into a breeding ground for bacteria — ironic, isn’t it? Plus, without cleaning the loofah itself, you’ll be transferring yesterday’s grime onto yourself today by using the same scrubber.

Infection

The process of exfoliation leaves skin more vulnerable, and some loofahs can be abrasive enough to break the skin, which invites the opportunity for that bacteria to make its way inside causing infection. At worst, you could expose yourself to Staphylococcus — also known as a staph infection. In some environments, dangerous particles can develop and ultimately be scrubbed into your skin. Those with more sensitive skin should be extra wary of the damaging effects a loofah can have on the body.

What to Use Instead of a Loofah

There is a range of alternative grooming products that offer the same benefits as a loofah while posing less of a health risk. The biggest risk factor with a loofah is in the design — the sponge-like shape is difficult to dry and clean regularly. These products solve that issue while still giving your skin a rejuvenating scrub, so you’ll no longer wonder what to use instead of a loofah.

Exfoliating Soap

There are bars of soap with exfoliating agents inside that eliminate the need for a loofah. Loofahs require monthly replacement on average, but by using a dissolving bar of soap, you won’t have to worry about keeping track of expiration dates. Home goods and lifestyle retailers, like Lush, offer a variety of exfoliating bars for prices comparable to a loofah.

Glove / Mitt

Exfoliating gloves and mitts are staples in salons for scrubbing dead skin off of feet. They can be just as useful in the shower to exfoliate your neck and shoulders. Gloves will vary in texture depending on the brand, so be cautious about using a rough mitt on your face or anywhere that the skin is thinner. EvridWear makes a dual-textured glove that is machine-washable, so it’s a great hygienic option.

Silicone Brush

For a fast-drying scrubber, check out a silicone brush! A non-traditional material like silicone works better for moist environments. It won’t lather as well as a loofah or cloth, but it’s more hygienic. The Silicone Exfoliating Brush by Cool-Essential dries quickly and actively repels the growth of bacteria. Besides exfoliating, the silicone bristles act as a massager, appropriate for your body, face, and scalp to further help with circulation and skin elasticity.

Loofah Pads

You may think loofah pads don’t belong when discussing what to use instead of a loofah, but there are benefits to purchasing smaller loofah scrubbers in a pack. A smaller pad means a smaller surface area to dry, plus, many are machine-washer friendly. Ave Deal sells loofah pads in packs of 8, encouraging you to replace them regularly in addition to proper drying and cleaning routines.

Salux Beauty Skin Wash Cloth

Japan has perfected and patented a lathering washcloth that can also exfoliate. The Salux brand Beauty Skin Wash Cloth promises to dry quickly and remain odor-free. The best part? They’re machine washable, giving you the most hygienic experience possible. Still, even with machine-washable scrubbers, it is important to respect the expiration date of your daily-use products. Changes in color or new odors are a good sign that your product should be replaced.

Bristle Body Brush

A bath brush is the most practical solution to scrub that hard-to-reach spot in the middle of your back. The bristles are also quicker to dry than an average loofah, so bacteria have less opportunity to grow. Brushes are versatile; they can also be part of your post-shower routine with moisturizing body oils. Keep your skin sensitivities in mind when selecting a brush. Selecting bristles that are too firm for you can still expose you to unnecessary risk by breaking the skin. Ineffable Care offers a gift set of brushes with varying firmness of their bristles to meet your individual needs.

Body Scrub

Japan has perfected and patented a lathering washcloth that can also exfoliate. The Salux brand Beauty Skin Wash Cloth promises to dry quickly and remain odor-free. The best part? They’re machine washable, giving you the most hygienic experience possible. Still, even with machine-washable scrubbers, it is important to respect the expiration date of your daily-use products. Changes in color or new odors are a good sign that your product should be replaced.

Essential Oils

If you prefer taking baths over showers, some of the above homemade exfoliants can be added with essential oils to the bath water for a spa treatment. Essential oils have therapeutic properties and can enhance the experience of using a scrub alone. Take caution with new essential oils, however. Some skin-types can react negatively to essential oils from allergies to the origin plant.

Sponge

A sponge presents many of the same bacteria risks that a loofah has, but the soft nature of a sponge can be a good alternative for those with sensitive skin. The soft material will cause fewer breaks in the skin, posing less risk of infection from the festering bacteria. Take care to clean and replace the sponge regularly, though. Spa Destinations sells a luxurious Natural Sea Sponge that is unabrasive and inexpensive. A natural sponge also minimizes exposure to harmful chemicals that can be found in synthetic plastics used in loofahs.

Body Scrub

You could cut out the middle-man altogether and incorporate the exfoliating properties in your choice of cleanser. A body scrub is a body wash with rough particles included to help slough the dead skin cells away. Micro-beads were banned from use in 2017, so most scrubs today incorporate natural ingredients to help exfoliate. One brand, Frank Body, makes a Shimmer Scrub that promises to leave you with a radiant glow as the sugar exfoliant particles dissolve. Scrubs at your local retailer can vary wildly in price depending on the brand and additional benefits they provide.

Alternatively, you can create your own body scrub using some common household items.

  • Salt is effective for feet, while sea salt works wonders on hands and cuticles
  • Sugar is a perfect scrub ingredient for the face; consider sugar over salt for recently shaved areas
  • Oats are appropriate for very sensitive skin types and work well as a gentle face or body scrub
  • Apples and apple cider vinegar work well as a chemical exfoliant
  • Coffee is an  effective scrub to battle stretch marks — caffeine stimulates blood flow and reduces the appearance of cellulite+
  • Splash milk in your palms and massage it on your face or add 2 to 4 cups to your bath to reap the benefits of lactic acid
  • Lemons and grapefruit work well as exfoliants, especially when used with milk
  • Baking soda works for all skin types; add it to your existing cleanser for exfoliation or mix it with honey to create a paste
  • Rice is gentle enough to use on both the face and body

Loofah

Yes, we’ve established that there are more hygienic options to use, but if you absolutely can’t bear to part with a loofah, there are still ways to make them safer to use.

  • Keep it dry when it’s not in use. This means storing it out of the shower or considering a storage option that allows it to air out. ToiletTree Products makes a bamboo shower caddy with slats that would allow a loofah to drip-dry.
  • Apply heat, ensuring that the materials used in your loofah can withstand heat. If so, you can toss it in the dryer or a clean microwave to help kill some bacteria. You could also boil it in some water for two minutes. Whichever method you choose, this should be a weekly chore.
  • A bleaching powder can be applied to most loofahs for an effective clean. This should be done once a week.
  • Don’t share. Families in the same household usually share a lot of the same germs, but using separate loofahs can help minimize the risk of infections.
  • Replace it regularly. A loofah should be switched out once a month. Beyond a month, there is a greater risk of bacteria forming and a high likelihood that the exfoliating properties will be diminished.

Loofah Benefits Outside the Shower

We shared the benefits of using a loofah or alternative scrub, but those benefits aren’t only available in the shower. There are ways to improve your well-being outside of your grooming routine.

Increase Blood Flow

  • Exercise: moving after a meal aids digestion. It’s recommended you move 3-5 minutes every hour you’re awake
  • Get a massage: massages are known to stimulate healing and localized blood flow
  • Alternate hot and cold temperatures in the shower, causing your blood vessels to expand and constrict
  • Drink water (preferably warm) as often as you feel thirsty and avoid caffeine and alcohol

Improve Skin Elasticity

  • Wear sunscreen: avoid premature aging by protecting your skin every time you’re outside
  • Eat healthily: make sure your diet is rich in omega-3 Fatty Acid and Vitamin A, B, C, and E
  • Sleep: skin repairs itself as you sleep, so get a good night’s rest to avoid puffy eyes

Conclusion

There are so many options to choose from in hygiene and grooming. Keep your habits and preferences in mind when you consider what to use instead of a loofah, or be mindful of the responsibilities that come with using a loofah. The shower is a place to relax, renew, and rejuvenate; don’t let the adverse effects of a loofah diminish that.

Featured Image via flickr