Scrubbers, scourers and sponges

Yes, I know you’ve all been on the edge of your seats since I promised you this exciting post a few weeks ago. Relax, the wait is over: sit back with your cup of tea and enjoy (?).

I hope I did not alienate too many with my disparaging remarks about washing dishes with cloths. I am now trying to claw my way back into your good books by giving you fantastic options for implements with which to abrade your plates and pots when the going gets tough.

For my stainless pots, the first thing I reach for (while still clutching my blue washing up brush) is my Lagostina stainless cleaning powder. Many times that does the job on its own (it’s also great on my Corain sink).

But when things are really stuck tight, my next choice is a scouring pad. I have two top choices. The first is a coconut fibre scrub pad by Safix. It looks somewhat like a loofah but is actually made, in India, from stuck-together coir (the hair-like strands that surround a coconut shell).

So this is a truly natural product, without question biodegradable, non-rusting and not injurious to the hands like some metal scrubbers. The website does not claim that production benefits poor people, but let’s hope. And using coir – which can also be made into rope, but is often wasted – is a great idea.

The pad is so light that shipping emissions don’t bother me.

Safix products are available in health food stores in Canada and, apparently at Waitrose stores in the UAE (this is from the website: not sure about UK Waitrose stores as no UK distributor is listed). [If you are in the Ottawa area, try Arbour in the Glebe.]

My other top choice, for a full range of scourers and implements to suit every washing up disposition, is a UK family-owned company called Ecoforce.

Ecoforce makes laundry and cleaning hardware most of which contain at least 95% post-industrial and post-consumer recycled content. It has several scourer options (all non-metallic): a dark green heavy duty pad; a white non-scratch scourer pad and a thicker sponge topped with a scourer pad (a good all-in-one option for non-brush washer-uppers).

All are pretty traditional products in appearance and work well on pots, pans and plates (begging the question: why use virgin materials for these tasks?).

Ecoforce scourers are not biodegradable. The good news is that they are made in the UK, which hopefully means they are made in a pretty non-polluting/wasting facility (always a big concern with cheap stuff from China).

Ecoforce is part of a family of companies (EasyDo) which also makes a product called Dishmatic. I’m sure you have seen something like this before. It is a hollow implement (like a brush handle) that can be filled with your favourite washing up soap (Biovert in my case..). Dishmatic has the advantage of offering three interchangeable head types that can be clicked into place: white non-scratch; green heavy duty and a steel scourer option.

I give you this information somewhat grudgingly as I am no fan of these washing up wands. On the plus side, Dishmatic is made of 50% recycled content (less than the Ecoforce products: I guess the plastic handle isn’t great). On the negative side, these tools dispense way too much dish soap for my liking and they are almost expressly designed to serve those who wash dishes under a running tap.

Please, please don’t do this. It’s a huge waste of water. And it is also inefficient: it’s much more effective to let your dishes soak in a basin of water while you wash. (or, if you have these bad washing up habits, to use a good, energy-efficient dishwasher).

So, was that worth waiting for? I cannot imagine it was, but here’s hoping.

Ecoforce products area available widely in the UK and through independent health food and eco-stores in Canada (though not the US, as far as I can see). Prices seem fair at $3.59 for a 3-pack of scourers (but they are much lower in the UK at £1.25 for the same pack).

Full disclosure here: Ecoforce sent me scourers to review. Saffix did not.

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  1. Fiona says:

    And nothing beats good old baking soda as a scouring powder.

  2. Diana says:

    Thanks for that super-quick comment, Fiona. You are right, of course!

  3. Tom says:

    The coconut one is a great idea, but in my opinion people who sell Ecoforce shouldn’t be allowed to call their pads environmentally friendly. There are better things to recycle plastic into than make scourers which wear away as they are used, breaking down into tiny fibers that go down the plug hole and in most cases (correct me if I’m wrong) go into water courses and the sea and end up in the food chain – just like fleece clothing (recycled or not) when washed. Better off in land fill if you ask me.

  4. Ben Hodges says:

    I have to agrees with Tom. Plastic needs to stay very far from the water supply.
    My company Michael’s Original has been producing luffa and coconut husk scrapers which are available widely in the UK and soon in the USA and Canada.

    Wash up the clean way.

    Ben Hodges

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