Sqwishful's Kitchen Sponges Are Plant-Based and Plastic-Free

Toss them in the backyard compost when you're done with them.

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Sqwishful sponge
Sqwishful's pop-up sponge can replace your paper towel roll 30 times over. That's 3,000 paper towels for 1 sponge.


I didn't think it was possible to get excited about washing dishes, but when a box arrived from Sqwishful full of plant-based, plastic-free scrub sponges and brushes, I couldn't help but feel a twinge of anticipation. I'm always looking for ways to get plastic out of my daily routine and this Brooklyn-based, woman-owned company's promise to sell fully compostable scrub pads intrigued me.

Sqwishful makes kitchen cleaning sponges and brushes from all-natural and renewable materials. The regular pop-up sponges are manufactured in the United States, using wood pulp sustainably sourced from forests in the Pacific Northwest. The scrub pads and dish brushes are made in China from luffa (a gourd) and bamboo (a fast-growing grass), where these are native plants and have been cultivated for over 10,000 years.

The pop-up sponges arrive compressed; they look like a stack of flat, thin cards. Sqwishful does this to make them smaller and easier to ship, to minimize their carbon footprint. (I wonder if Sqwishful also does it to entertain customers, because watching the sponge grow is rather fun.) Upon contact with water it rapidly expands and turns into a fluffy scrub pad that has a similar consistency to a regular kitchen scrub pad and works just as well, if not better, because it has handy angled corners and is highly absorbent.

Pop-up sponges
Pop-up sponges.


What I like most about the sponges is that they're compostable at home. That means that, when you're finished with one, you can cut it up into smaller pieces and toss into your household compost bin. "Depending on the condition of your soil, your sponge should compost in one month," Sqwishful says. It's refreshing when companies realize that not everyone has access to industrial composting facilities and should not have to rely on those in order to dispose of certain biodegradable items.

The dish brush has a wooden bamboo handle and hemp bristles. When the head wears out, you unscrew it and add a new one to the same handle, reducing waste. On its website Sqwishful suggests, "Instead of sending [the old head] to landfill, compost it, add it to a campfire, or even place it in your yard. While it may take time, the brush is 100% biodegradable."

Sqwishful dish brush
Dish brush with removable, replaceable head.


I'm a fan of household solutions that don't necessarily force people to change their habits, but rather replace the wasteful products they're accustomed to using with sustainable green ones. Until I discovered Sqwishful, I didn't know it was possible to find a plastic-free alternative to a dish sponge that feels and behaves almost exactly like a conventional synthetic one. (I use washcloths and compostable Swedish dish cloths for this reason, but they're not quite the same thing.) Paired with Blueland's powdered dish detergent and Ethique's upcoming solid dishwashing concentrate, there are ever more options for plastic-free dishwashing.

Sqwishful sells its sponges and scrub pads separately (US$6 for a 3-pack of sponges or a single scrubber), or together in a kit with a dish brush handle and two heads ($30). It ships anywhere in the continental U.S. Check it out. You won't be disappointed. I know I'll be going back for more when my samples have run out.