I just realized that 2 years ago this past January, I made the change from standard or traditional household sponges to handmade, crocheted sponges. We are still going strong on this one.
Honestly, I did not know what to expect. I hated using “dish rags” when I would go to people’s houses. I hated the smell. I hated the feel. I hated how sloppy it felt. I hated how it didn’t get stuck-on-gunk unless you really worked at it. I just did not like it. I felt a little like Sam. “I do not like it Sam I am. I do not like it…”
Specific use cases
Then I started using these for a very specific reason. Okay, it was more like two very specific reasons: cost and health.
I hated that sponges cost a certain dollar amount. Sure, you could get cheaper sponges, but it did not mean that you would get a quality sponge that would actually do the job you needed it to do when you needed it to do it. I also felt that cheaper sponges wore out and got nastier quicker. I was changing sponges more frequently as a result.
Do not say, “but you can wash them” or “you can sanitize them in the microwave.” The list of buts is endless and honestly, old and boring. I have tried it all. Nothing works like people claim that it does when it comes to the smelly, germy, nasty and icky sponge. I have washed them in the washing machine. Most will simply fall apart. I have washed them in the dishwasher. You still end up with a wet sponge to deal with. I have stuck them in the microwave. I just had a hot sponge. They always stink again within a couple of days.
In one of my many hours spent on Pinterest, I found some sponge alternatives. You can read about it from January 2017: “Ditched the sponges.”
One of my realizations was that no matter how hard I tried, I was always cross-contaminating my dishes when using a traditional sponge. It took a while to come to that realization, but I did finally reach it. Since then, I have made other changes in my kitchen as well. See, with a sponge, you want to get your money’s worth of use out them. I do not know a single person that uses a sponge a single time and then throws it away. It just does not happen. Well, when you’re allergic to certain foods, those oils and stuff stick around in your sponges no matter how well you rinse them–cross-contamination.
Now, I do not panic when I have a stack of dishes covered in slimy pork residue. Bacon fat, anyone? Now, I can wash and toss in the laundry basket that I have declared is the “kitchen” laundry basket. It is where all of the various kitchen towels, hot pads, and sponges end up. The contents get washed every 2-3 days usually. It depends on what is in it and how full the basket it is. The contents in this basket get washed and sanitized in hot everything. Sometimes they get washed 2-3 times if they are extra grimy and nasty.
No going back
Here we are 2 years after starting this as an experiment and I have no intentions of going back to using a regular old kitchen sponge. None! Take a look at this sponge that I pulled out of the dryer earlier this week…
This is one of two sponges that I crocheted. I actually crocheted a third, but we have not put it into active-rotation yet. I should do that. I just need to weave end the yarn tail. I have started knitting another one as well. I want to see how it works compared to the crocheted version.
I have been amazed at how well these have held up over the past 2 years. We are not gentle on them either. I clean everything in the kitchen with them. Sharp knives have not even destroyed them. My husband said that they do an amazing job cleaning his gas smoker in the back yard. The other one is a tad stained from his smoker and grill cleaning adventures, but it looks just like this one. A little worn, but still sturdy enough to continue using for another year or possibly two.
My fear was that the cotton yarn would begin to separate and the fibers would not hold up to the scrubbing. The fibers are separating, but they still have a bit of life in them. I was afraid that the “scrubby” yarn would just wear out quickly. It has worn out, but there is still some more scrub left in it. I think because I made it knubby, it helps with the durability when doing the tougher jobs.
I will not be going back…
I also have switched to using washing kitchen towels in the kitchen instead of paper towels. We do keep paper towels on hand for certain tasks, but I have a huge laundry basket of kitchen towels. I use them for everything in the kitchen. The best part? I have spent less on kitchen towels of various types over the past 2 years than I have on paper towels. Yes, this means that I am doing more laundry, but it is not hard laundry. It is 1 load every 2-3 days depending on if I have cleaned with them or just day to day usage.
What have you done to help simplify and what were the pay-offs for making these changes?