The Best Way to Wash: Choosing Between Washcloths, Loofahs, and More

The Best Way to Wash: Choosing Between Washcloths, Loofahs, and More

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If you walk down the right supermarket aisle, you may find a dizzying array of shower tools. Sponges, loofahs, washcloths, and Korean exfoliating gloves line the shelves.

Which tool is the right one for you? Does it make a difference? Some people say that washing with just hands is dirty, while others claim that washcloths collect mold and bacteria. With all the debate, Packer’s Pine is here to share the best information on getting clean.


Washcloths are a popular choice with many groups of people. The benefit of the washcloth is that it’s easy to spread soap across your body; its texture is rough enough that it provides some exfoliating power but gentle enough that you can protect your sensitive areas by applying light pressure.

One of the biggest benefits of using a washcloth is that it can be used, run through the laundry, and used again. Because washcloths are inexpensive, a small investment in a package of several cloths can be used for many years. This makes the cost and frequency of replacing your washcloths much less than loofahs, poufs, or shower brushes.

The downside to washcloths is that they can collect grime, mold, and mildew if not properly cared for. Washcloths should be washed often (daily if possible), and it’s best not to share with other members of the household. Additionally, some experts advise against washing your face with the same washcloths you use on your body, as they can transfer germs and bacteria to the eyes and pores, causing infections. This is especially true for people with skin conditions that compromise the integrity of the skin, such as psoriasis, eczema, etc.


The loofah (and similar products, like the shower pouf) are great options for people who need some extra exfoliating power. The rough surface makes them ideal for removing old, dry outer layers of skin.

The downside to these products is that they are magnets for germs. The nooks and crannies of loofahs create a moist environment that allows bacteria to hide and grow. Because of this, these products can sometimes cause recurring skin infections, often caused by candida yeasts. These bacteria can cause jock itch, dandruff, and even oral thrush.

The downsides of loofahs can be avoided by good hygiene. Avoid sharing with other members of the household and replace your loofah or pouf about once a month. Rather than allowing it to stay in the shower, store your loofah somewhere it can dry adequately to inhibit bacterial growth.

Some new products, such as silicone brushes and body mitts are emerging as a replacement to the loofah. Because silicone is non-porous, these products don’t suffer from the same bacterial growth as washcloths and loofahs while still providing decent exfoliation. Additionally, they can be cleaned much easier than loofahs and poufs (though it’s hard to beat the ease of cleaning a washcloth).

What about my hands?

Hands are a time-tested, unproblematic way to get clean. Some dermatologists recommend them as the best way to clean your skin, as they are gentle enough to maintain its integrity, don’t harbor bacteria, and don’t require constant cleaning or replacement. The one downside to cleaning yourself with your hands is that they aren’t very good at exfoliating the skin; however, this shortcoming can be overcome with exfoliating body washes.

These body washes can sometimes contain textured materials, such as salt, to help rub off the dead outer layer of skin. Other washes may use a chemical exfoliant, such as salicylic acid. Though effective, these types of body wash aren’t always kind to sensitive skin so proceed cautiously if you are prone to irritation.

The final verdict

The ideal way to wash comes down to personal needs, preferences, and culture. The only person who knows how to make yourself feel clean is you.

That said, if you have sensitive or dry skin, it may be time to make a change. Look for gentle, sulfate-free body wash and soaps to avoid irritation. Seek out the best soaps for dry skin if you struggle with dryness and/or eczema and moisturize frequently.

Don’t forget that skincare doesn’t end in the shower. Many products can be applied anytime, and good hygiene throughout the day can also improve your skin’s health. Using products like dry brushes is an easy way to gently exfoliate, while creams, lotions, and oils can be used to maintain supple skin.

You can also avoid strong detergents in your clothing and avoid handling irritants without protection. Lastly, sunscreen can provide lasting protection all day to prevent sunburn and skin cancer. While cleaning is a major key in maintaining skin health, caring for your skin all day will keep it looking fresh and feeling healthy for a lifetime.