Sit Back and Get Comfy
while we embark on the exhilarating ride of cleaning your cleaning tools!!
Remember that "Friends" episode where Monica vacuums her vacuum? That's kind of what we're doing here.
Side note - that's the first time I've every embedded a GIF. Thank you for being here to share this moment with me.
Why Clean Your Brushes
Let's start with why cleaning your bamboo brushes and cellulose sponges is worth doing.
Clearly you're a person who cares for the environment - after all, you already own the bushes and sponges, which is kind of like the official badge to the Eco Warrior Club.
Simply put, properly caring for your brushes will make them last longer. Extending the life of your products means that you can use them longer and replace them less often. More money in your pocket, less resources taken from the earth. And that obviously goes for everything...clothing, toys, tools, and bamboo dish brushes!
But Brushes Should Already Be Clean - They're Always Getting Soaped Up!
Well...yeah, but bamboo brushes and cellulose sponges are a natural product. They're not treated with any synthetic coating, paint, or glues because they're meant to break down naturally. Continuous moisture allows for bacteria, which can kickstart the breakdown process. So let's nip that in the bud to make our brushes last as long as possible.
First Thing First:
As a day-to-day habit, after you've used your dish brushes and sponges, make sure they aren't left with bits of food in between the fibres. Then give them a good shake or squeeze to get rid of as much water as possible. Hang dry if possible, otherwise make sure they rest on the counter bristle side down to air dry.
There isn't an exact time period for when you need to clean your brushes. You have to measure that with you heart (and eyes and maybe nose), depending on how much you use the brushes, how dry it is in your house, and how Monica-like you are.
Feel free to toss your sponges and cellulose clothes into the top rack of your dishwasher. The sponges are sewn together without glue, and both are fully natural products so no worries about weird solvents or chemicals getting onto your dishes. Alternatively your can also put them into your washing machine.
Don't put your bamboo products into the dishwasher. The bristles can handle the heat, but the bamboo cannot. You will get cracks in the handles, which adds another sneaky place for sneaky bacteria to sneakily set up shop. While testing out the products I put mine in the dishwasher just to see how much abuse they could handle. I am pleased to say that despite the cracks they've both been in use for 8 months now.
If you like, you can treat your bamboo brushes to a hydrating fractionated coconut oil rub to keep them looking fit. Do not use a food-based oil, though, because those will eventually go rancid.
When it's time to disinfect your brushes, we rely on the good old fashioned vinegar bath. It was good enough for your grandma, and it's good enough for us! Fill a shallow pan with enough vinegar to submerge the bristles and the bottle of the brush handle and let it sit for about an hour. Feel free to experiment by diluting the vinegar with some water, or adding a bit of dish soap or baking soda, but I find the classic vinegar solution works well.
After an hour or so, give them a rinse, shake'em out, and let them air dry. Bingo bango, you're all set.
How to Dispose of Old Brushes
As we said earlier, natural brushes do eventually break down and need to be retired. Cellulose sponges and clothes can simply be added to your compost pile. You can help them biodegrade faster by cutting them up into smaller pieces and putting them into the bin damp.
Bamboo brushes will take longer to decompose because they're thicker materials. You can cut off or pull out the bristles if you like, even chop up the bamboo - but time and patience work just as well.
Let me know in the comments if you have any other tips and suggestions on how to care for your natural cleaning products! I'd love to hear from you!