Damp, stinky, chewed-up sponges don’t need to meet the trashcan. Here are other ways to extend their usefulness.
Garbage is garbage, though. What is a conflicted eco-steward to do? Keep your old sponges out of the waste stream, at least for a little while longer, by trying out some of these tips:
Your old sponge is in relatively good condition, aside from some minor discoloration
- Hand-me-down shoes that children have not quite grown into can be temporarily modified by adding a small piece of sponge inside the toe region (just cut the piece with sharp scissors to customize the fit).
- Demote your sponge from kitchen duty to task-specific jobs, whether you use it exclusively in the bathroom, on floors or simply for pet cleaning needs.
- Reserve an old sponge for unexpected leaks or spills.
- Place the bottom of a small potted houseplant on top of a sponge, trace around it with a pen, cut the circle out and then use it as an absorbent coaster that will prevent surfaces from getting water stained.
- Engage your toddlers in some fun time by crafting a stackable, recycled sponge tower.
- Create summer-worthy sponge water bombs for the kiddies just by cutting and securing 1-inch-wide strips with durable thread. Another option is crafting a sponge sailboat for bath time or pool play.
- Fashion a multi-tiered bottlebrush that will successfully clean the hard-to-reach interior of glass containers merely by stacking 2-inch sponge squares together, stabbing them with a sharp bamboo skewer and finally securing the sharp ends with two recycled wine corks. If that sounds too complicated, just place an old sponge around a ruler with a few rubber bands for a quick and easy scrubbing wand.
- For a finger-painting upgrade, show your children how to make hand-cut stamps using sponge remnants. When they are done, dip the same sponge stamps in permanent fabric paint in order to dress up old kitchen towels.
- Apply paint inside paper stencils with old sponges.
- Make summertime two-wheeling a bit more comfy by strapping old sponges on your bicycle pedals. Whether you ride your bike with flip-flops or bare feet, it will end up being a breeze.
- Use small sponge squares to separate toes while working on your pedicure.
- Create a makeshift mini greenhouse by starting seeds on a damp sponge covered with a clear glass bowl.
- Prevent decorative objects from scuffing delicate surfaces by upgrading them with mini sponge “feet.”
Your sponge is a mangled eyesore
- Add it to your compost pile (only if it is made of biodegradable cellulose).
- Use it to apply shoe polish to scuffed footwear.
- Cut assorted sponges into confetti bits so they can be later used as shipping or cushioning storage material.
- When repotting houseplants, cut old sponges into smaller pieces in order to cover drainage holes. In a similar vein, add fully intact sponges to the bottom of pots when transplanting particularly thirsty varieties.
- Enhance the visual appeal of your home’s interior with faux painting, reserving individual sponges for each unique color.
- Dress up a gift with a festive, multicolored, sprinkle-studded letter-shaped sponge topper.
- Place an old sponge inside the bottom of an umbrella stand to absorb excess moisture.
- Garden tools are mucky already, so wrap those unsightly sponges around shovel and rake handles so your hands catch a cushioned break. (Be sure to secure them in place with zip ties or strong cord.)
- Grace your laundry or mudroom sink with a soap “coaster” to reduce goo accumulation.
- Discourage mice from infiltrating your home by saturating old sponges with peppermint oil and placing them in front of suspected entry points.
- Artists: rather than washing acrylic-dipped paintbrushes prematurely, keep them moist for next-day use by placing them in a plastic storage container lined with damp sponges. Top with a tight-fitting lid and you’re good to go!