If you have an unused loofah that's been hanging around your bathroom for a while, you should probably think twice before using it. Although they're used for cleaning your body, they're also a breeding ground for germs that are waiting to turn your into its home.
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology found that loofahs can transmit “potentially pathogenic species of bacterial flora to the skin that under the right circumstances may even cause an infection.” And the crevices of a loofah that make it feel so good when you scrub your skin are actually the ones that make the sponge a hotbed for diseases.
According to the study, the dead skin cells that you scrape off during your shower find homes in those cracks, while the humid, damp environment of your shower triggers the foundation of a bacterial community before your next rinse. The bacteria feeds on the organic matter trapped in the loofah (AKA dead skin cells), and every time it does not dry properly, the bacterial colony continues to bloom. The result? Bacterial growth which leads to fungal infections all over your body.
Can’t give up that loofah? These tips can lessen the risk of infection:
Let your loofah dry between uses. Open a window or turn on a fan, or simply keep your loofah outside the shower.
Switch it up on a regular basis. Rule of thumb: if your loofah already smells weird or you can't even remember when you got it, it's time to replace it.
Put it on a medium heat in the microwave for 30 to 60 seconds. This obviously won't work for plastic loofahs, do this with loofahs that are made from natural materials only.
When using your loofah, don't scrub too vigorously to avoid giving yourself small cuts and abrasions for bacteria to find their way in. Also, be sure not to use a loofah after you've shaved, just in case you nick yourself.
Not convinced? To show you how disgusting that loofah is, watch this video produced by Tech Insider below: