We’ve all heard the term “loofah” before. It’s the fluffy, spongy thing that you use to wash up in the shower! Well, at least that’s what I thought it was…
Turns out, the loofah, or more properly spelled, luffa, is actually a naturally occurring plant! Yes. A plant!
More specifically, the luffa is a genus of vine related to the cucumber family.
When the plant is still in its early stages of development, it can be harvested and eaten as a vegetable.
However… in this post I am going to be talking about all the non-edible uses of the loofah plant.
History of The Loofah
As I said previously, this naturally occurring plant is a vegetable belonging to the cucumber family. It looks more like a big zucchini or squash, and is primarily consumed in India, China, and Vietnam.
However, this plant was originally used by Ancient Egyptians as a body sponge and was one of the first plants to be domesticated in America around 9-10,000 years ago.
Since then, the loofah has had many uses, including insulation in helmets and pillows and was used for ship filters during World War II.
However, now loofahs are generally sold as big, fluffy pieces of plastic.
Many people have gotten away from the idea of natural loofahs since the introduction of man-made ones. But I think it’s time to reconsider adopting this wonderful plant back into our lives.
Loofah Plant Uses
When I first saw a video on luffa harvesting, I was amazed.
An older gentlemen had a whole trellis of vines that had bright green vegetables dangling from them.
When he cut the skin open, inside was a perfect, fibrous loofah that looked just like one you would buy from the Bath and Body section of a store!
The loofah can be used several ways.
1. Dish Scrubber
Ditch your old, plastic sponge for a natural loofah! Plastic sponges are bad for the environment and often harbor a whole host of bad bacteria inside of them.
I never liked using sponges simply because I knew they would ultimately end up in the landfill, so I tried other alternatives. I got a biodegradable cloth, but it mostly worked as a paper towel replacer, and couldn’t scrub off any of the grime on my dishes.
The fibrous texture of a natural loofah is great for scrubbing and washing dishes…and better yet, it doesn’t retain heaps of moisture (which is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria in a normal sponge).
The loofah’s normally come in fairly long sizes, so it’s best to cut it to the size you want when using this as a household product.
2. Shower Loofah
You guessed it…. the loofah can be used as a loofah in your shower!
Store-bought loofahs, again, are made of plastic and store a bunch of bacteria in them (which isn’t very clean). The natural loofah plant can be used as a body scrubber and can safely be used with water and soap.
3. Dry Brush
The loofah plant can also be used as an effective dry brush.
Dry brushing is the technique of massaging your skin with soft, dry bristles.
This practice has been linked to many health benefits including:
Aids in digestion
Promotes lymph flow/drainage
4. Homemade Soap/Soap Dish
If you don’t already have a soap dish or tray, simply cut off a slice of your loofah and use it as an all-natural soap dish! I’ve also seen videos where people make homemade soap, and cut little chunks of the loofah into it for a good exfoliating scrub.
Some other natural exfoliants for soap are oatmeal or ground almonds/walnuts. Either way, try to buy soap that doesn’t contain any harmful microplastics.
Your Next Zero Waste Swap
Overall, the loofah has some amazing uses. Especially when used as a dish scrubber for pots and pans. It’s so great to see that there are natural products that you can literally make in your own backyard to replace plastic cleaning items.
When the loofah has run its course, you can safely dispose of it in your green yard waste bin and cut off a new piece!
I hope that you found this information interesting/informative. I know that when I first learned about natural loofah’s I was absolutely amazed. Hopefully we can all get back to our roots and start using the things that nature intended for us to use!
Let me know in the comments below if you’ve ever used a natural loofah before and how you liked it!