These Biodegradable Sponges Make Dishwashing Bearable

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Biodegradable sponges

Photo Treatment by The Spruce / Amazon

Doing the dishes gives me the ick. Nothing sends shivers down my spine quite like the slimy sludge that accumulates in the sink and slides off dishes and pans. That and the smell that creeps up from the drain are enough to make me want to procrastinate doing the dishes forever really. There are people who don't like this task and then there are people like me, who desperately avoid it at every chance. Unsurprisingly, it's my least favorite chore and has been since I was little (just ask my younger sister who picked up my slack at the sink growing up).

Alas, I'm an adult now, and I can't avoid eye contact with the pile of grimy dishes and simply hope they'll disappear. Even with the privilege of a dishwasher, some things require a good washing by hand only. So any tool that speeds up the process is a best friend of mine.

I have my holy grail scrub brushes already, but I had yet to come across a sponge that stood out to me. I've tried quite a few tools, too, from smiley-faced rounds to sponges on a soap-filled stick. I normally fell back on the basic neon yellow rectangles that were nothing to write home about and just accumulated a lot of gunk and odors. That was until I came across one sponge that was not only nicer looking, but it worked well and was better for the environment.

AIRNEX Biodegradable Natural Kitchen Sponge

Biodegradable sponges


These biodegradable kitchen sponges are everything you want your dish cleaning tools to be. They're strong scrubbers (but gentle enough to avoid damage) and aren't the dirt-harboring squares you might be used to—well, they don't smell like it at least.

On one side of these sponges is a rough coconut fiber-based material that makes scrubbing a breeze; and on the other is white cellulose that softly slides over surfaces, collecting food bits. Though sponges are put through the wringer, as mentioned, these ones act like nothing's happened. Even after long-term use, they really don't stink and they aren't prone to falling apart as quickly as others I've used in the past. The white and brown color is also a small perk, and much more aesthetically-pleasing than neon yellow or blue in my opinion.

Sponges—as multipurpose as they are—also aren't the most effective thing for tackling utensils and dishes with stuck-on food and crusty leftovers. That being said, as much as I'd love to take a ball of steel wool to everything to quickly get the worst bits off, that is a major no-no when it comes to most surfaces. I have quite a few ceramic, nonstick, and cast iron pans, all of which need a heavy-duty clean at times.

Sponges do zilch and scrub brushes don't have enough fibers to really get things clean. This sponge is the perfect solution. After a good (but pan-safe) scour, I can gently pull off the rest with the cellulose side. Nasty dishes: 0, Melissa and her sponge: 1. Each pack comes with 12, too, so you always have a back up replacement when you need it.

Another downfall of traditional sponges is their plastic composition. Once they're out of commission and too dingy to wash another dish, they're thrown in the trash. It's a small item, but they add up. Sponges get gross quickly and do need to be replaced regularly for health reasons. Fortunately, these much sleeker sponges can be thrown into a home compost bin when they're too old. Because of their coconut and cellulose construction, they can essentially biodegrade right before your eyes.

While I'll never fully love doing the dishes, I also never thought I'd hear myself say that doing the dishes is bearable thanks to a certain sponge. If you're just as opposed to diving your hands into the murky sink as I am, you can rely on these handy little scrubbers to speed through that pile and actually achieve a spotless surface on all your cookware.