The species of sponge which are used for personal care, cleansing, exfoliating and also as menstrual sponges, are naturally dark brown, not naturally blonde.
Many years ago it was discovered that with the right amount of bleaching agent for the right amount of time a whole host of solid impurities can be disolved out of sponges as well as sanitising them.
The Bleaching Process
To keep the science simple, a bleach is used and then something similar to bicarb is used to neutralise the bleach before everything is washed out with fresh water and left to dry.
Bleaching is a safe process, even when the sponges will be used for intimate care. We said we’re keeping the science simple here, remember that “bleach” is used to sterilise regular drinking water. Think about chlorination. Now chlorinated water on it’s wouldn’t “make your whites whiter” like a washing detergent might, that would have a stronger bleaching agent.
As with cleaning up sea sponges a lighter “bleach” will be enough to freshen them up and kill and bugs from the sea where as a stronger bleach for a longer time would change the colour of the sponge, making it the golden colour we are so familiar with.
So which is best?
Well we’ve done a lot of scrubbing, absorbing and cleansing with a lot of sponges and the clear winner will always be a natural, unbleached sponge. By sticking with Mother Natures original recipe they’re that little bit softer and keep their sponginess and absorbency for longer.
Additionally we find that an unbleached sponge lasts longer than a bleached one. The amazing natural design of the sponge pores is weakened by the bleaching process, knocking a few months off their optimum, useful life.
So Why Do We See So Many Bleached Sponges?
Laziness is the first reason. To get a pure sponge ready to package with no impurities it’s easy to over bleach it which dissolves lots of organic debris which would be otherwise have to be picked out by hand with tweezers and scissors. This becomes common practise for many companies.
Also, consumers are programmed to think that white and yellow are clean, sterile colours and brown is dirty. Especially if you mention that something comes from the sea bed.
That leads to consumer expectations. People are surrounded by golden coloured sponges so the manufacturers of synthetic sponges make them yellow which reinforces the stereotype so subconsciously we all end up thinking that “blonde is best” when it comes to sponges and the cycle continues when sponge companies feed the hunger for yellow sponges by supplying more of them as the default colour.
But the more thoughtful consumer will stop and think and when they see how beautiful these marvels of nature are in their natural state and they feel how soft a lightly moistened natural sponge is on their skin, they truly know that natural, as always, is best.