The choice of dish sponge depends on the condition of the dishes to be washed. Before the dishes were washed by hand with the ashes of the fireplace. For the dirtier ones, river sand was used mixed with wet clay. Systems have filled the hands with scratches and abrasions. Human beings have always used sponges to defend themselves. Elements with sufficient abrasive power were capable of retaining water. They may be of animal origin, such as sea sponges, or vegetal, like the inside of some cellulose-rich plants. Then chemistry invented synthetic sponges, with petroleum derivatives like polyurethane, or reconstructing natural sponge cells in the laboratory. The sponge cloths really work perfectly if chosen properly.
The classic sponge for dishes is the two-sided one. One is soft to distribute the soap, the other stiff to rub. It has the advantage of being cheap, but the defect of getting dirty very easily, and especially of ruining the rough part.
More useful for cleaning stone or marble kitchen countertops, when used for dishes it fills with germs and bacteria, and after a week you need to replace it.
Another type of sponge widely used in the kitchen is the steel wool sponge. It appears to be made with a mesh of very thin steel wires and serves to remove stubborn dirt. If you use it dry, on dirty dishes, however, you risk scratching them. Better to choose a less abrasive sponge. But if the dirt is such that you can’t do without it, put the dishes to soak in warm water first and wait for the dirt to soften.
Bacteria are always a problem. In kitchen sponges, they can proliferate very quickly. But you can take an antibacterial sponge. It is a special brush-shaped sponge, made of silicone. It is easy to clean underwater. Being very flexible it easily reaches and degreases even the corners.
Do it yourself sponge
Another solution is a homemade sponges. Just do not throw away the old towels and cut them into pieces of 20 cm x 12, to be sewn in a bag on three sides. Then put small scraps of the same fabric inside and close the fourth side. You can machine wash it, adding a bleach to disinfect it. If you need an abrasive sponge you can try your hand at jute and weave the fibers.
Nature also comes to your aid. In fact, among the many species of marine sponges, you can find some useful for washing dishes. But with natural products, there is a need to evaluate the cost because it is higher than industrial products. Fortunately, the chemistry that deals with household products has found a way to reproduce the same fibers in the laboratory, creating equally soft sponges at lower prices.
One thing you would never imagine is growing your dish sponge at home. In fact, there is a plant whose fruit, when ripe, becomes an excellent sponge. It’s called Loofa, it is part of the same family of squash and zucchini, and it is cultivated in the same way. When the fruit is ripe you must extract the pulp and let it dry in the sun. As soon as it is dry you will have your sponge in natural fiber, easy to clean and since it does not retain dirt, even antibacterial.