Best Eco-friendly Alternatives to Plastic Dish Sponges

Skip the disposable sponge and go green with a zero waste swap!  Today's guest post from Zero Zen shares the best eco friendly alternatives to dish sponges, and offers a whole lot of info on the problems with plastic!

rainbow multi-color eco friendly and biodegradable sponges for cleaning the kitchen next to a white dish

Who would have imagined that cleaning your dishes could be so dirty? The amount of bacteria your dish sponge can harbour is not the only problem to think about when using it. Using plastic dish sponges also creates lots of waste!

Your green and yellow sponge is one of those cleaning tools you need to replace frequently to get rid of unwanted germs. But how do these plastic dish sponges affect the environment?

In this article, you will learn why plastic dish sponges are bad for the environment and the best eco-friendly alternatives to replace them! Plus, you will find information about cleaning cloths, scrubbers, and dish brushes!

brown plastic free coconut bristle brush for cleaning the kitchen

The Problems with Plastic Dish Sponges

Unlike other eco-friendly alternatives, plastic dish sponges cause several environmental problems. They cause problems throughout their production, while you use them, and after you discard them! So, what exactly are those problems? Here are the main issues with dish sponges:

Made from Plastic

As you might already know, regular dish sponges you can find at grocery stores are made from plastics.

Even though you could find a few ones made from natural fibres, they aren’t as common as the ones made from synthetic fibres. And even if you find them, it will be a waste of time because the scrubby part is usually made of polyester. That’s not to mention the plastic packaging!

Since dish sponges are made from a non-renewable source, it goes without saying that their production contributes to climate change! And if that’s not enough, remember that oil companies can cause great damage to natural ecosystems!


Now let’s talk about what happens every time you use a plastic dish sponge.

When you use a kitchen sponge to wash your dishes, it will release tiny plastic fibres that will get washed down the drain. As most water treatment plants can’t filter them, they will find their way into the ocean.

In case you didn’t know, most marine animals will swallow these “microplastics”. As a result, these plastics will move through the food chain until they get to your dinner plate!

Landfill Waste

According to a study, your plastic dish sponge could contain more bacteria than your toilet! That’s why many people discard them after a few uses now.

If you discard one per week, you would be tossing 52 plastic sponges per year! What’s worse, you’re not the only one doing it, which means there are millions of dish sponges being discarded right now!

On top of that, this cleaning tool isn’t biodegradable and you can’t throw it in the recycling bin because it isn’t recyclable either. That’s a lot of plastic waste that will be sitting in landfills for hundreds of years!

modern kitchen aesthetic with cool tone colours, including a biodegradable plastic free kitchen sponge cloth under a stack of white bowls

What about Sponge Cleaning Cloths and Scouring Pads?

If you were thinking that sponge cleaning cloths and scouring pads are eco-friendly alternatives, then let’s clarify why they aren’t. First of all, these options are usually made of plastics as well. Likewise, they will release microplastics and eventually, you will have to discard them too.

If you use a plastic dish brush, you would still need to discard it when it’s worn out. That’s why using eco-friendly alternatives is a better way to reduce your plastic waste. But don’t worry, below you will find the best eco-friendly alternatives to replace all of these unsustainable options!

Eco-friendly Alternatives to Plastic Dish Sponges

Would you like to stop sending plastic dish sponges to landfills? Are you looking for an eco-friendly alternative to clean your dishes? Then, check these zero waste and plastic-free alternatives to plastic dish sponges, plastic scrubbers, sponge cleaning cloths, and plastic dish brushes:

eco friendly steel scouring pads on a white kitchen island with pots and pans

Biodegradable Dish Sponge

If you want to use a plastic-free option that looks and works like your regular sponge, try a biodegradable dish sponge! Unlike your plastic sponge, this eco-friendly alternative is made from plants, which makes it fully biodegradable! So, when you no longer need this plastic-free sponge, you can compost it at home!

Besides, this zero waste dish sponge won’t release microplastics!

Coconut Dish Brush

Looking for a gentle and eco-friendly way to scrub your non-stick pans, pots, dishes, and glasses? Then, you will love this coconut dish brush! As its bristles are made from coconut fibres, this durable cleaning brush will cut through the toughest grease without scratching things!

Also, the handle of this plastic-free brush is comfortable to hold and it’s made from sustainably sourced timber!

a yellow natural biodegradable eco friendly sponge in a green cardboard pack

Wooden Dish Brush with Replaceable Head

A wooden dish brush is another eco-friendly alternative to replace your plastic dish brush or plastic dish sponge. The bristles of this plastic-free alternative are made from sustainably sourced and plant-based materials. So, it won’t release plastic fibres while cleaning your dishes!

You can replace the brush head when needed and reuse the handle for a long time, so it’s a great zero waste option!

Steel Scourer Pads

These galvanised steel scourers are a great plastic-free option for though removal of dirt. You won’t need to use plastic scrubbers any more! This eco-friendly alternative is fully recyclable and it will do a fantastic job cleaning your pots and pans. The only thing to keep in mind is that you shouldn’t use them on non-stick pans.

Biodegradable Sponge Cleaning Cloths

As you might have noticed before, classic sponge cloths contribute to plastic pollution. But the good news is that you can easily replace them with these biodegradable sponge cloths! They’re very absorbent, durable, plastic-free, and reusable. Put them in the washing machine and you will be ready to reuse them! Once they’re worn out, you can throw them in your compost bin!

natural plant based bristle brushes for cleaning the kitchen with handles that have colourful accents


Another option to save money and ditch single-use sponges is using old T-shirts or towels to wash your dishes! Although it isn’t fancy, using this eco-friendly alternative is an easy way to avoid plastic dish sponges and reuse your old clothes. Moreover, you can wash and reuse them over and over again. And that’s a fantastic zero waste practice!

These eco-friendly alternatives to plastic dish sponges are the best options to clean your dishes and keep harmful plastics away from your kitchen and the environment!


About Zero Zen:

Zero Zen is a small family run online shop out to make greener alternatives accessible to all.  After struggling with anxiety and having a series of job letdowns after lockdown began, the motivated founder decided to take what little money they had left and start on a new dream.  Together as a family they combined their passion for eco friendly living with their interest in business, and Zero Zen was born!

Packed full of low waste treats, from reusable cups and degradable sponges to plastic free toothpaste and bamboo duvets, this sustainable shop is definitely a great place to find all your essentials.  Whether you need to stock up your bathroom cupboards or reinvent your bedroom, Zero Zen has got it covered.  You'll find brands like Panda London, Truthpaste, Patch, Jungle Culture, and more - it's a great mix of small businesses and cult classics.  So what are you waiting for?  Go check them out, and be sure to show some love over on their socials too!

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