Sometimes it’s best to just go back to basics…

Maybe this morning’s workout finally caught up to me (I think I’d better up my iron intake the next few days til my body gets used to this activity), but I spent a good chunk of the past few hours on the couch looking up random stuff.

You can make the argument that I’m stalling badly on…whatever. And you’d be right. Still taking my time with taxes, but I’m also waiting for the answers to a few questions I had before I get in the thick of it, so it’s partially necessary.

But more than that, I was trying to think of things that would be more helpful to my budget and the house. Two things came to mind within a couple of hours: I realized I was all out of cleaning sponges, and I REALLY hate those plastic-mesh shower loofahs now.

The kitchen sponges issue was resolved in 5 minutes. After looking, I remembered that I have a bunch of those cotton waffle-weave thin kitchen rags. I figured I could use those like gentle scrubbers way back when, but rarely used them til now. I think the fact that after washing they seemed to shrink and not stay flat well kinda just made me throw ’em in a box of cleaning supplies and forget about ’em for a while. But I gave ’em another shot with my ceramic pans, and after using one on a pan that’s already a bit scuffed up that I’ve been babying, they actually work damned well, especially with my powdered dish soap (thank you Blueland).

So, I figured stop putting sponges on the list for the kitchen. That’ll save me a bit there, but also, I won’t have that smelly thing around for long periods of time. Whatever sponges I have left, I’ll just use in the bathrooms to scour the bathtubs (I keep them in the bathrooms in their own plastic bowls so they keep everything else dry AND don’t get mixed up).

But when those run out, what can kick the soap scum and whatnot without murdering my arms or back? Well, it turns out I have some natural loofah sponges, or at least, carved segments of them that I was saving up. I’d bought some homemade natural soaps from someone a few years ago, and in the base there was a 1″ thick round disc of loofah sponge to help exfoliate and scrub the skin. I loved the idea and didn’t want to get rid of the sponge, so I let them dry out (I only used 2 soaps so far, but have at least a dozen more) and put them in a box under the sink.

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Natural loofah is so weird looking, I know.

My initial idea was to use ’em to scrub my skin in place of the plastic loofahs, but I felt they were a bit too stiff, small, and uncomfortable. But they’re just stiff enough to be good scrubbers for the shower (and hold the cleaning solution well enough to disperse, even with all the holes). So, that’s one way I can reuse. And the way those natural loofahs are, it’ll take years for me to break them all down and throw them away.

So, that leads us to the plastic shower loofahs you get for crazy cheap everywhere. Such pretty colors, such pretty plastic. I figured this morning in the shower that (after seeing a part of it snag and rip, since it’s on the aging-side) I REALLY don’t want to get any more of those stupid things. I also kept thinking about how I’m trying to minimize my plastic use when and where I can (been bringing my own bags to the grocery store, including mesh produce bags–love those things). Of course, that led to me thinking about the vids of poor turtles eating plastic and seals getting stuck in plastic and having to be rescued that I’d binge-watched one day last week.

A few hours of watching those animals, cut up and injured by nets, fishing line, garbage bags, etc. made me pissed off and want to reduce my plastic use BIG TIME. Seriously, hats-off to the seal disentanglement crew in Namibia for what they’ve done. I shudder to think of the trouble some of this basic garbage causes to even more wildlife that we can’t see.

So, I figured I’d really like to get rid of the loofahs and find something better.

Already got a natural bristle long-handle brush, but I have a skinny shower and it’s weird to try and scrub your arms with it. I’d prefer something smaller that doesn’t require contortions to avoid hitting my stick-on shelves or the door. So, that’s what made a loofah worth it. Plus, that whole “rich lather” thing made ’em appealing.

I have a lot of shower gels that I’ve gotten over the years (part of those lovely impulse-shopping days at the mall), but eventually I’m hoping to have them used up in the next year or so (again, a LOT of bottles around) and go fully into bar soaps. I sometimes use bar soaps even now, usually when I have a headache or I’m gonna put some good smelling lotion on and don’t want contrasting scents. I have a nose like a drug-sniffing dog and don’t like to overwhelm it. The bar soap doesn’t work so well with the bristle brush, or at least, it spreads it, but doesn’t lather.

I went online to look for natural loofahs that were eco-friendly or biodegradable, whatever the search terms were. I did that for a good hour when something hit me: why the hell did washcloths stop being good enough all of a sudden?

I have a whole bunch of them I’d bought over the years to replace the ones my dad ruined (he had this nervous tick of picking at cloth towels and gradually unraveling them in his last few years… which wasn’t so bad, except he didn’t do it to the 20 year old cloths, but the new ones I’d bought). I figured I should be able to use one per day and throw it in the hamper to be cleaned. I think what stopped me was all that soap residue that would be left on the washcloths. Hell, dad always had one on a hanging bar in his shower, probably the same one for weeks on end. And without fail, every other month when I’d give the stall a deep scouring, that washcloth was so stiff it would keep it’s hanging “u” shape after removing it.

That made me switch to loofahs, and of course that lovely lather. But I always hated how when you got scrub happy, the loofah would either snag or loosen from it’s central bindings.

When it comes to washing up, a brief glance through the search engines will explain that washcloths are far healthier to use than loofahs because the washcloths hold less bacteria when hung to dry properly (thanks to being swapped). Granted, most all the resources I glanced through recommended switching washcloths each day or every couple of days. Changing them out so often would reduce the soap in the fibers and make them easier to keep and clean. And in the case of VERY soapy cloths, vinegar will help cut it… and I always have vinegar around. I can use the 2nd sink as a vinegar bath for the towels before giving ’em a good wash, if they need a little more TLC. They’ll probably last years and years, if I wash ’em right.

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As much as I typically hate laundry, I don’t mind so much when it’s towels, because it’s easy to just fold ’em and put ’em up… no laying out, hanging up, finding partners, etc.

So, washcloths instead of loofahs from now on for a good scrub, especially with the face (never would use a loofah there). But regarding the bar soaps and getting a good lather there (and not having the soap slip everywhere when I’m trying to use it), I looked up those biodegradable cotton soap bags and got a few. I can work the soap through the bag and create a loofah-like cleaning experience while holding onto the slippery soap… and it’s fragments. That’s the thing I always hated about bar soaps: hard to use to the last. But a soap bag definitely would alleviate the problem.

I find it funny that when we’re looking for small solutions to sudden problems, I seem to think that there’s some newfangled thing that can be super helpful and start looking for it. What’s funnier is I know I’m not the only one who has fallen into this strange trap of commercialism. “Go buy some new thing to help you with this old/new problem.” But honestly, some of the stuff that’s already been around works just as well if not better… and will help my budget immensely.

I still can’t believe the amount of electric scrubbers and other crap there are out there on the market now. I didn’t even know it was a thing til I saw it on Amazon. Yes, soap scum is the worst and most annoying, but sheesh. Elbow grease doesn’t burn electricity.

It’s strange to think of it this way, but after taxes, I hope to make 2022 my year of scarcity… or extreme frugality. That makes more sense, now that I think about it. Not “swipe ketchup packets from fast food places to avoid buying any” level of “douchebag cheapskate,” but just doing my damnedest not to buy anything without researching alternatives that I can use instead first. Sometimes it just takes a bit of imagination and taking a realistic assessment of what you have available.

And maybe, just maybe, this will be the year where I chain that impulse-shopping puppy up for good.

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