You know that colorful sponge hanging in your shower? Or maybe you have an exfoliating loofah. That spongy scrubber might leave you feeling clean, but if it’s not properly cared for, it can be a breeding ground for tons of bacteria.
You use a loofah or shower sponge to scrub off dead skin cells, but have you ever thought about where those dead flakes of skin end up? They get caught in the nooks and crannies of the loofah’s material. And when you’re done, you likely leave your loofah in the shower until next time. But your shower is a warm, humid environment without a lot of air circulation, which is exactly where bacteria like to hang out — all the while feasting on your dead skin cells.
Fortunately, you can take certain steps to lower the risk of bacteria growing on your loofah:
Give it a chance to dry
Let your loofah dry in an area with plenty of airflow. If possible, crack a window, leave the shower door open or store the wet loofah outside of your shower. For extra caution, use soap and water to wash and rinse out the loofah on its own after you wash yourself.
Replace it at the right time
Dermatologists recommend that you throw out a loofah after three to four weeks. Mesh bath poofs or sponges can be tossed after eight weeks, as they’re more resistant to bacteria.
Kill off the germs
In addition to letting it dry, you can clean your loofah occasionally by microwaving it for 20 seconds when it’s still damp. However, make sure you’re not microwaving a plastic loofah or any material that could melt or catch fire. Another way to get a germ-free loofah is to soak it in a solution of five percent bleach.
However, some dermatologists recommend ditching the loofah altogether, saying people spend a lot of time over-cleaning and that simply using body wash and your hands is enough. If you do choose to use a loofah, follow these tips to keep yours in safe shape.