Loofahs are the ultimate anti-heroes of the bathroom. As great as they are for lathering your soap and exfoliating your skin, they’re equally fabulous at growing bacteria and causing infections – heck, most people don’t even know what a loofah really is, or how to properly use a loofah in the shower.
If you’ve ever contracted a mystery rash, or picked away at a strange new skin infection without ever figuring out the cause, it might be time to put down your loofah and start reading up on how to use it properly.
What Is A Loofah?
Most people use the word loofah interchangeably for several different types of shower scrubbers:
• A luffah is a natural loofah, made from fibrous inside of a gourd. You’ve probably seen one at the store; they’re cylindrical, long, tan, scratchy, and have a partially hollow inside. Technically, the word loofah is most often meant to refer to a luffah.
• A pouf is that plastic mesh loofah. It’s sort of spherical and comes in a variety of colors. You’ve probably seen them hanging up at the end of the bath aisle at Walmart.
• A sponge is exactly what it sounds like. Most people don’t call sponges loofahs, I’m just adding them to this list because they have the same benefits and downfalls as all traditional loofahs.
And then there’s a slew of variants. Maybe you’ve seen those flat, circular washcloth-looking things with a strap for your hand. Or loofahs on a stick so that you can scrub at your back. Or straight up washcloths trying to pose as loofahs. All of those loofah-like bath items fall into the same camp.
So when I use the word loofah throughout the article, you don’t need to worry about what type of loofah I’m talking about. Though they’re made of different materials, they all need the same maintenance; they all have the same skin benefits; and they all have the same big red flags.
Loofah Benefits: What Is A Loofah Used For?
A loofah is great for lathering up your soap, scrubbing at your skin, and gently exfoliating your body, getting rid of dead skin buildup.
In fact, loofahs stimulate blood flow beneath the skin, so if you take your showers in the morning, scrubbing with a loofah can help wake you up and make your skin look a little more vibrant.
They also help your soap last longer, since they create a full bubbly lather that goes farther. They’re great for making the most of your bathroom products.
How To Use A Loofah With Bar Soap Or Body Wash
When it comes to bar soap, a loofah will work wonders on lathering it up.
Take the soap in one hand, the loofah in the other, get both a little bit wet, then start scrubbing them together. Pretty quickly, you should have a nice mass of bubbles going. Set the soap aside, and use the loofah against your skin (only your body, not your face).
Body wash follows the exact same process – the only difference being that you squirt the liquid soap into the loofah, rather than rubbing the bottle against the loofah.
If you need any additional pointers, I recommend getting a sexy shower buddy to help you out.
How To Use A Loofah To Exfoliate
Don’t scrub your skin too hard. That’s a rookie mistake.
Loofahs, and all their variants, are really good exfoliators. They’ll take off your top layer of dead skin cells and oils pretty quickly, so you don’t need to be harsh with the loofah. This is not a “harder and faster, baby” kind of situation.
Think of it this way: if you’re using a loofah every day, you don’t want to irritate your skin over the course of a week by scrubbing too hard on day one.
How To Clean A Loofah
Yes! You need to clean your loofah regularly if you’re using one.
If it’s a fiber or mesh loofah, you can stick it in the dishwasher every few days, or boil it over the stove. Some people also use a bit of diluted bleach on their loofahs; this helps kill bacteria growth.
Mesh loofahs also need to be replaced frequently. Some people say the rule of thumb is one to three months, but it’s more important that you keep an eye on any weird color changes or smells and use that as your indicator. They’re notorious for harboring bacteria colonies that can cause skin infections.
For cloth-based loofahs, throw them in the washing machine with your clothes, towels, and/or sheets. I recommend keeping a set of several washcloths on hand so that you can clean with a new one everyday or every other day. Cloth loofahs are also great at growing bacteria, but on top of that, some will get stiff and gross to work with. So replace them with a fresh-from-the-laundry one as frequently as you can.
Is It OK To Use A Loofah Every Day?
For most people, using a loofah every day is fine. But if you have sensitive skin, it might start to cause irritation.
This is why scrubbing gently, cleaning, and replacing your loofahs is important. Too much exfoliation can cause skin damage. Infrequent cleaning and replacing can cause skin infections. Loofahs are a great partner to have in the shower…but only if you’re using them correctly.
If you notice any weird symptoms like rashes, fungi, infections, or general discomfort, try to cut down your loofah usage. If those symptoms continue, it’s probably time to either replace your loofah, or stop using a loofah entirely.
Are Natural Loofahs Antibacterial?
No, all loofahs are the opposite actually (mesh and cloth included). They’re freakishly good at harboring and growing bacteria colonies, whether the loofah is natural or plastic.
Your soap is antibacterial no matter what brand/type you’re buying, but your loofah is not antibacterial. And the soap won’t cancel that out.
That’s why, if you’re going to use a loofah, cleaning it and replacing it regularly are important. I had a female friend who contracted a yeast infection from her loofah (a horrible gential sickness, if you’re unfamiliar with the term).
On this end, I strongly recommend picking a daily fresh washcloth instead of a mesh loofah. Washcloths are just so much easier for most guys. It doesn’t take too much effort to have a few on hand, swap them out daily, and wash the set weekly. Boiling a mesh loofah every week and replacing it every month is too much of a hassle for most people, and it’s costly.
Is Loofah Good For Face?
Do NOT use a loofah on your face.
I know, it’s really tempting. I’ve been there before too. You’re standing in the shower, loving the feeling of the mesh against your skin, and the thought pops into your head, “Hey! If this feels so good against my arms and legs, it’s going to be great on my face.”
It’s not. It’s going to irritate your skin. We don’t think of loofahs as heavy-duty exfoliators because they seem so gentle, but they’re actually quite rough. So if you don’t want to turn your face bright red, don’t scrub it with a loofah.
Instead, get yourself a gentle exfoliating soap if you need to rub away dead facial skin, and apply that soap with your hands. Not the loofah.
Are Using Loofahs Bad?
It really depends.
Lots of guys – heck, lots of people – don’t know that they should be cleaning and replacing their loofahs, so the risk of contracting an infection or loofah-related illness is high. And, frankly, it’s unsustainable for the environment (and for your wallet) to replace a loofah as often as it needs to be replaced.
In that sense, yeah, loofahs aren’t great.
But in another sense…lots of us have been blindly using unsanitary loofahs for years without any issues.
My biggest recommendation is to keep an eye on your loofah, whatever type you’re using. If you start to have any skin problems, it’s probably the culprit.