What are loofahs?

One summer holiday back in 2013, I was on holiday in Laos, Southeast Asia, and I saw wild loofahs growing next to a river. It is one thing using a loofah and knowing that it is a natural product, but quite another seeing it growing wild and free. I was amazed and stopped to take some photos of one I picked. In hindsight I should have taken a lot more photos…

Loofahs are typically long and cucumber shaped, native to Southeast Asia. They are part of the gourd family along with watermelon, zucchini and squash. Before the loofah fruit become the sponge we know, they are green, firm, fleshy and edible! The loofah plant, also knows as Luffa, is entirely edible, from the seeds to the flowers. Once the fruit matures it develops a hard and crunchy shell, inside which the loofah sponge develops.

A loofah sponge is hard and scratchy when dry, and needs to be soaked fully in warm water before use. The fibres exfoliate your skin while you wash, sloughing away dead skin cells and dirt. After use you need to rinse your loofah with warm water to clean out any soap residue and leave them to air dry. If any dark spots appear on your loofah, just boil it in a pot for 2-3 minutes and continue to use it. They last for months and once they are not usable anymore they can be composted.

When choosing your loofah sponge, be sure to check that it is a natural loofah because there are also synthetic loofahs on the market. In the shop, I sell natural loofahs that have been pressed and sewn into rectangular shapes, with a little loop to hang them up for better drying.

So ditch your plastic sponges and make the switch to something truly amazing, gifted to us by Mother Nature.

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