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The Battle of the Things You Use to (hopefully) Clean Yourself




Wash your hands before clicking.

I’m one of those people who opts to sit around in their pajamas until 5 PM on Sundays, and then get dressed only if there is no food in the house. If there is, a shower may be postponed until 9 PM, or—you are free to be disgusted—Monday morning. The rest of the week I’m a regular clean-freak, with a shower every morning and deodorant in all the right places. I initially thought this would be between showers and baths, but then realized that the final argument is too simple: in a bath, you’re just wallowing in your own watery filth. A shower rinses clean, and is always the preferred method for serious de-grossing. Baths are nice for relaxation or as a treat, but only if you have the right type of tub (one where the top half of your body isn’t left out and freezing) and only if you’re already mostly clean. Also, if you’re a baby, but we won’t go there again.

What I’m more interested in is the battle of the shower time scrubbers: washcloths and loofahs. And mostly because I’ve always been a bit shocked and confused by the popularity of loofahs. I’ve been a washcloth user since I was young and have given loofahs their chance, but I always feel like they just rub lather around on my skin as opposed to wiping dirt off. My complaints about them increase in severity:
1) It takes me twice as long to work up loofah-and-body wash lather as it does washcloth-and-soap lather.
2) Their poofiness decreases the force of scrubbing I can inflict on my skin.
3) They seem to prevent cleaning access to some areas of the body.
4) From my loofah-investigations, they are cleaned much less frequently than washcloths (if at all) and are harbingers of bacteria and your own filth after their very first use.

Numbers 3 and 4 are pretty severe accusations when it comes to shower court, and are the primary reasons I could never accept loofahs officially. After one use, a washcloth is hung up to dry and then tossed in the laundry to be properly disinfected. I don’t see people with dozens of loofahs to ensure a fresh start with each bathing. This adorable blog brings up the question of loofah-washing, and the responses are moderately horrifying: “I never washed mine,” “…I have to start washing my loofah now?” “I thought they just cleaned themselves in the shower, too…” I’m sorry, but in what world do washcloths need to be laundered but loofahs magically clean themselves? They are not some mystical bacteria-proof creation: a number of bacteria like to live on them, including our good friend Staphylococcus. And, even if you do clean your loofah occasionally (please), they reportedly don’t hold up in the wash very well and should be stuck in the dishwasher. Personally, I don’t want my food bits on my loofah or my skin bits on my dishes.

Reason number 4 comes off as a bit crass, but it’s also a necessary consideration in the debate. When showering, you’re cleaning everywhere, right? I hope so. Every day, every shower. That means the loofah you used to clean the darkest crevices yesterday will be used to wash your face and arms today. If you actually clean your loofah every day, this isn’t an issue—but the above blog and my general exposure to loofah-ers indicates you don’t, and you won’t. So, gross. I wouldn’t rub my own used washcloth on myself, which means I don’t want your dirty loofah skin near me, either.

Of course, everyone’s different. You might be the most hygienic loofah user in the world. And I’m sure there are some pretty disgusting washcloth users out there. But based on totally arbitrary and non-exhaustive research, the first washcloth-query article I found had a slew of responses that “I use it once then toss it in the laundry.” Interesting. I’m not sure who’s going around teaching people that loofahs are magically free of laundering needs, but it’s not the washcloth committee.

Loofahs gain points for cuteness, but I don’t typically shower for the sake of “aww.”

Washcloths, for the win.