Are Loofahs Bad for You?

Medically Reviewed on 3/19/2021
Loofahs can prove dangerous to your skin because they can be a microbe reservoir
Loofahs can prove dangerous to your skin because they can be a microbe reservoir

Loofahs can prove dangerous to your skin because they can be a microbe reservoir, especially if they hang unused for days or even hours without a good rinse. Loofahs have lots of nooks and corners, and they are very porous. Hence, when you use a loofah to scrub the dead skin cells, those cells get lodged in the nooks and corners, which becomes an ideal place for bacterial growth. The most common microbes found in a loofah include:

Besides, dermatologists do not suggest the use of loofahs because they can be harsh on the skin. Scrubbing with loofah should be limited to once or twice a week.

Moreover, plastic loofahs can send microscopic bits of microplastic straight into your shower drain and then into the sewage system. Eventually, it pollutes the ocean, which has been a growing concern of our planet.

If you still wish to use loofahs for exfoliation, you should probably follow these steps to prevent bacterial growth:

  • Rinse the loofah thoroughly after each use. After rinsing, dry it completely to avoid any water retention.
  • Avoid using a loofah for a few days after shaving your leg to prevent bacteria from entering your skin through any cut or nick.
  • Never use it on the face or genital area because these areas are quite sensitive.
  • Clean it at least once a week by soaking it in a diluted antiseptic solution for 5 minutes and rinse thoroughly with cool water. Finally, dry it out completely before using it.
  • Replace the loofah if you notice any mold growth or if it develops any mildew or musty odor. It is recommended to throw natural loofah after every 3-4 weeks. Plastic loofahs can be used for up to 2 weeks.

What is a loofah?

Loofah, also known as luffa, is a shower accessory used for cleaning and exfoliating the skin. Natural loofahs are made from a gourd in the cucumber family. As mentioned previously, loofahs require proper maintenance to prevent them from becoming a bacterial breeding ground. Besides, they can damage sensitive skin.

What are some of the better alternatives to loofahs?

Loofahs aren’t the only option for scrubbing and cleansing the body. There are other safer substitutes for the loofah, which include:

  • Washcloths: The physical structure of washcloths makes them less susceptible to any bacterial growth. A washcloth can be washed in the laundry or rinsed with detergent. You can replace them more often than a traditional loofah.
  • Silicone bath scrubbers: These scrubbers may have antimicrobial benefits but should be cleaned regularly.
  • Sea sponge: Like loofahs, they are devoid of preservatives, dyes, or chemicals. Sea sponge has some antibacterial properties that don’t allow bacterial growth. However, you need to regularly clean the sponge and let it dry completely.
  • Skin brushes: It is designed with soft bristles that do not hurt or bruise your skin. They don’t require frequent sterilization like a loofah and are safe to use. However, use it gently on sensitive skin because it may injure the delicate skin. Skin brushes are even cheap and available easily.

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Medically Reviewed on 3/19/2021
References
Cleveland Clinic. Do You Know What’s Growing on Your Loofah? https://health.clevelandclinic.org/loofahs-can-double-as-bacterial-breeding-grounds/

Bottone EJ, Perez AA 2nd, Oeser JL. Loofah Sponges as Reservoirs and Vehicles in the Transmission of Potentially Pathogenic Bacterial Species to Human Skin. J Clin Microbiol. 1994;32(2):469-472. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC263056/pdf/jcm00002-0209.pdf