Exfoliating regularly helps keep your skin fresh and supple, and an all-natural loofah sponge provides excellent, chemical-free, manual exfoliation. Loofah scrubbers originate as the natural fibers in gourds from the Luffa cylindrica plant, and they can be quite stiff and abrasive when new. If you plan to exfoliate your face and body, you may want to use more than one sponge. Choose a smooth loofah -- one with finer fibers -- for your face and neck, and pick a coarse loofah for your body and feet. Soak new loofahs in hot water before use to soften the fibers. If a loofah seems too stiff, soak it in hot water and break it in by initially scrubbing tough areas such as your feet or knees to help soften the fibers.
Wet your loofah in hot water and squeeze it to soften it before use. Apply your choice of facial wash or soap to the loofah -- use a small handful of facial wash or liquid soap, or rub the loofah a few times with a bar of soap.
Rub your face and neck gently with the loofah, moving it in small circles over your skin. Apply slight pressure, pressing just enough to remove dead skin cells without damaging your skin. Avoid the eye area and any particularly sensitive areas, such as around the nose. Take particular care with the decolletage and chest area.
Apply soap or body wash to a coarser loofah. Scrub your body, using a circular motion. Press just hard enough to loosen dead skin cells. Besides cleaning away sloughing skin cells, a loofah is sometimes used in massage therapy as it invigorates the skin, stimulating circulation, which aids in the development of new skin cells.
Pay particular attention to areas of your body with rough skin, such as elbows, knees and feet. Repeated use of a loofah reduces dry skin or callouses in these areas, allowing softer, smoother skin to surface. Use a soft washcloth instead of a loofah to cleanse tender areas.
Rinse your body completely, and pat your skin dry with a soft towel. To discourage the growth of bacteria, mold or mildew, rinse the loofah, squeeze out excess water, and hang it to dry
Loofahs soften with use, and can be used for about four to six weeks. After that time, the vegetable fibers begin to break down.
You can sanitize a loofah to kill bacteria, mold and mildew that may lurk in the crevices. Add about one teaspoon of household liquid bleach to a sink or container full of hot water, and immerse a well-rinsed loofah in the water for 30 to 60 minutes. To green-clean your loofah, mix white vinegar, borax, baking soda or hydrogen peroxide with hot water and soak the sponge.
A long, strip-shaped loofah is ideal for scrubbing the back. Loofahs are also available on long handles.
Discard a loofah if it shows signs of mold or mildew, or when the fibers begin to break down.
Fern Fischer's print and online work has appeared in publications such as Midwest Gardening, Dolls, Workbasket, Quilts for Today and Cooking Fresh. With a broader focus on organic gardening, health, rural lifestyle, home and family articles, she specializes in topics involving antique and modern quilting, sewing and needlework techniques.