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Eco-friendly sponges for a sparkling kitchen

Cleaners that can dish it. (Amazon/)

The dish sponge is a kitchen staple, regardless of whether or not you have a dishwasher to help you tidy up after meals. This seemingly innocuous everyday object can harbor more nasty bacteria than you’d think, and should be replaced regularly. Many common sponges contain microplastics, which are a source of pollution found across the globe from the ocean to remote areas of the Pyranese mountains. These four plastic-free alternatives look good, get the job done, and are biodegradable.

Always have a clean spoon when you need one.

Always have a clean spoon when you need one. (Amazon/)

Are you the type of person whose dish-washing system includes scrubbing plates first before using hot water and a sudsy sponge to finish cleaning them? These bright white cellulose sponges have a soft surface on both sides that allow you to do just that. The set of four average-sized sponges (4.3 by 2.8 by 0.4 inches) is dry and flat in the package until you add water, making them super compact and easy to slip into your bag as an emergency aid for spills. They’re tied together with twine, so be aware there is a little hole in each sponge—and while you can peek through it if you’re feeling playful, you’ll probably get soap in your eye.

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Get to dessert faster.

Get to dessert faster. (Amazon/)

Multitaskers can fly through a stack of plates, cups, and bowls quickly with these cellulose and coconut fiber sponges. The cellulose in each of these six sponges (4.8 by 2.8 by 0.8 inches) is derived from wood pulp. The coarse coconut husk fiber layer on the top of each sponge is an excellent alternative to microplastics, though procrastinators may find they need something stronger to loosen hardened food residue. Flip the sponge over for a softer and gentler cleaning surface.

Tackle your pots and pans.

Tackle your pots and pans. (Amazon/)

If you’ve ever used a natural loofah in the bath to ex-foliate, you know that plant fiber can be surprisingly tough. Fans of active scrubbing will find that what looks like a piece of shredded wheat can still attack caked-on repast remains without scratching, and deliver cleansing foam when you add dish soap. Each loofah sponge in this pack of six has a string attached to make it easy to hang dry.

Pretty in pink.

Pretty in pink. (Amazon /)

When you contemplate wiping down counters and tabletops after you’ve loaded the dishwasher or dish rack, a regular sponge isn’t necessarily the right tool for the job. These absorbent sponge/towel hybrids are 8 by 7 inches, made of 70 percent cellulose and 30 percent cotton, and can be seen as a reusable paper towels or versatile dish cloths. This affordable 10-pack has an assortment of colors and patterns that can be sterilized by boiling, and even thrown in the washing machine.

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