While cleaning my bathroom recently, I cleared out the shower as I usually do of all hair product and soap bottles to get scrubbing. When I moved to put my loofah back, though, I realized that this weird little product has dominated my shower routine for years, and I have literally no idea why.
Sudsing up with body wash using only your hands is just short of barbaric, and face cloths are great when you’re a kid, maybe, but eventually I can only assume that most people upgrade to the loofah when it comes to a satisfactory shower experience. If I’m wrong, let me know.
Note: We’re talking about natural loofahs, not the synthetic, mesh ones from the drugstore.
But I guess I’ve never stopped to ask myself what the F a loofah even is. It’s porous, but it’s not a sponge, exactly. It’s exfoliating, but it’s not a bath brush.
Would you have guessed that it’s actually a plant?
The main consensus, from what I see on the internet at least, is that loofahs come from the ocean. It’s understandable, since they look like sea sponges and, for some reason, consumerism constantly outfits shower products and bathroom decor with seaside paraphernalia. But nope!
The luffa (easy connection, here) is a gourd from the same family as pumpkins and squash. It’s also called the sponge gourd or Egyptian cucumber. So, yes, you’re basically showering with a zucchini.
The luffa is edible when it’s young, but it eventually dries out and the veggie part falls out, leaving a tough interior when you peel the shell off; that’s the part that the ancient Egyptians used as a sponge. Since this gourd made its way to the United States 10,000 years ago, we’ve also used it for ship filters, pillow stuffing and insulation.
I know what you’re thinking now: Yes, you can make your own DIY loofah! So long as you can provide the luffa a tropical enough environment and leave room for the plant to mature, there’s no stopping you from growing your own bath accessory.
A final note: Make sure you’re taking care of your loofahs correctly, lest you fall prey to the less...hygienic properties.