Introduction: Handmade 100% Natural Shower Loofah

Its been a while since I had grown any vegetables in my kitchen garden, the last one I remember was tomatoes. My next door neighbor has a small mango tree in the backyard which has some branches grown beyond their boundaries and falling into my backyard now. As a neighbor we have been sharing lots of good stuff since ages and helped each other in time of need. Isn't this nice in these times where its hard to maintain relations. Anyways...

Its mango season in India and I was trying to spot some mangoes on that tree(like I said we share like family) and guess what I found, a dried Sponge Gourd..How?. I had grown some sponge gourd in last winter and they lasted till March. The vine actually climbed the mango tree and no one noticed that there was a big fruit grown and hidden from us. You know we call it Gilki (Gil (G as in goat) - kee) in india and every alternate week my mom brings it from farmer's market and cook it.

I could not resist but to pluck it, this reminded me of my grand mother (can never thank you enough ma) who used to make loofah using it, in fact I had used it when I was a kid in times when shower gel was not something we knew or  had access to.

TIP: Do you know here in India we make awesome Gilki Bhajiyas (Fritters made using tender Gourds)? I might write an ible someday about it.

So lets see how we can make a 100% natural shower loofah using a dried Sponge Gourd (or luffa or Gilki) fruit. I will try to cover every nifty detailed I learned from my grand mother, you may find it over simplistic.

Step 1: All You Need Is

You will need a properly dried Sponge Gourd  or Luffa Gourd or Gilki (I will use the term gourd moving forward in this ible :)) And...
  1. Lots of water
  2. A plastic bucket
  3. A sharp scissor if you choose to cut.

Making this loofah is simple but requires some processing which I mean natural processing. So lets make some loofah.

Step 2: Bring Out the Inner Beauty

When the gourd is dried properly, all that remains is the dried skin outside and fruit fiber inside. It is easier to peel the skin but we need to be careful so that we don't tear the fiber. It is easy to crush fiber when dried and we don't want to do that. I will show you how to remove the skin nicely (read professionally ;-) )
  1. The end of the fruit is hollow and there is no fiber inside. Break the skin using your fingers (See Image 1 & 2).
  2. Notice that there are dried seeds inside (Image 3). I am not sure if gourd have a seedless version but if your gourd does not have seeds insides, you will save a step :).
  3. Remove the seeds from inside by jerking the gourd upside down. (Image 4). This should remove about 95% of the seeds inside.
  4. Now put the gourd on the floor and hammer it lightly with your fist to make cracks in the skin (Image 5).
  5. Start peeling off the skin by pulling the skin from the cracks, this way you will not tear any fiber (Image 6 & 7). 
  6. The peeled off gourd will result in a fiber loofah (Image 8)...no no no... we are not done yet :).
Some clean up is required before we start using this loofah.

Step 3: Washing the Beauty

Why didn't we just start to use loofah after peeling?

Good Question. We did not use it right after we peeled it off because of following reasons:
  1. Dried gourd fiber may still contain some fruit starch (it does actually), the moment you make it wet and use on your body, you will notice a stickiness like oil or gel. 
  2. Every gourd is different, some may have a clean fiber and may not have dried skin inside. but most fiber does have skin flakes and seeds stuck inside the fiber.
Want more?? ok here it is
  1. If the gourd is over dried or have cracks, it is possible that it may become home for some insects or even spiders (don't be scared, its just a precaution). Safety first. 
So I think now you will agree that it's a good idea to clean the gourd first before you have the luxurious shower loofah. :)
  1. Grab a bucket full of warm water or enough water to submerge the fiber (Image 1).
  2. Soak the fiber for a minute and then move it inside water clock-wise and anti-clock wise many times, see the dirty water with flakes and few seeds. (Image 2 & 3)
  3. Squeeze the fiber and give it a few jerk to remove any seeds or broken fiber pieces stuck inside (Image 4).
  4. Repeat this 2-3 times with clean warm water. Then squeeze it to drain access water.
  5. Now grab your favorite body wash (Image 5) and pour a little on the fiber (Image 6). I used B&B works Aromatherapy :D
  6. Rub it to make foam and leave it for a minute or two (Image 7) .
  7. Rinse again in water to remove the body wash and squeeze & jerk it to drain access water. Then leave it on a dry surface (Image 8) (Oh...Please not on your cutting mat :))
Why shower gel here?
Another good question, when we soak the fibre for the first time, it may smell unpleasant (not exactly bad but just unpleasant) when you use if for first time, using gel in this step can make it smell pleasant :).

Alright..almost ready.

Step 4: Just Make It Handy

Now you have the nice and clean fiber ready to use (Image 1). Since I gourd was quite big, about a foot, I decided to cut it into 3 pieces (Image 2&3). The 2 bigger pieces will serve as loofah and the smaller one can be used as a feet scrub or just scrub.

I see lot's fiber inside, why not just slit cut and make few rectangular pieces or nice oval scrubs?
Another awesome question:).

As the question said fiber inside, why waste it ...right? You can cut the fiber into fancy pieces throwing away access fiber but here is what I am trying to emphasize, why waste a natural product, its all natural loofah and all that matters is how you use it. In my opinion and experience, using the loofah this way has few advantages over cutting it fancy pieces or attaching strings to hang
  1. No wastage of a natural product.
  2. It will keep the fiber intact therefore making it last longer, mine lasted for almost 4 months.
  3. It can be multipurpose, if we cut it smaller, it can be used only for specific body parts.
But this is just my opinion :), use it the way you want.

Few maintetance suggestions :
  1. When you are done using it in shower, rinse it with water and just put it on a soap dish.
  2. If you want to use it for kids , soak it in warm water for few seconds and then use it.

I really appreciate you time in visiting and reading this ible. Please post your comments, feedback or suggestions in the comments section below. And if you like it and think this ible deserves a vote, please do vote.

Thanks

Comments

author
mrsmerwin (author)2017-02-11

how long of a growing season do these need? Are there different species of plants that work?

author

A month or two usually. They grow fast. There are some hybrid varieties that are usually small and lean that I don't recommend. I would buy organic if possible and let them grow to the biggest size when they start drying on the plant itself. Hope it helps.

Thanks

author

it does. Thanks

author
Elvenwishes (author)2016-02-27

Tarun I live in Western Australia and have been wanting to do this for what seems like ever. I only need to find where I can buy the seeds and start them off. I knew they came from gourds and after spending what was a small fortune on one from the "health shop" I thought I can do this. Now I know the process which you have made so easy, now all I need to do is plant them and do it myself. Congratulations on a well written article ... cannot wait to get this project started... :)

author

Awesome !! I am so glad to know this. Thank you so much for your kind words.

author
buildandsewandstuff (author)2015-05-25

My grandparents who lived in Virginia grew these for many years, starting during the Depression, to use in the kitchen. They saved a penny anywhere they could! Grandma called them "dish-rag gourds" because she would use them to scrub dishes and pans, and they fit down into drinking glasses and canning jars better than a cloth in one's hand. She would keep two of them in the kitchen at a time, and allow one to dry while using the other. They must dry completely between uses or they will get mildewed and start to smell bad and get soft & crumbly. Of course they don't last forever no matter how careful you are, but you can always grow more from the seeds that come out! I'll have to grow some for my own grandson this year. Thanks for the memory!

author

Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful memory :)

author
taygoaras (author)2015-03-06

hi!

very nice!

here in Brazil it's a very common! we call Bucha.

author

Amazing!! Many thanks

author
sunshiine (author)2013-06-18

I had no idea how these were made! Awesome instructable! Thanks for sharing.
sunshiine

author

Thank you sooo much :)

author
Blackie-and-Orangina (author)2013-06-02

This is awesome! I bet it would be nice to wash your face with.

author

Thank you :). Yes it can be used, just put it in warm water for a minute or so before you use it.

author

Cool. If I find the plant I will try it.

author
anubhav.dubey (author)2013-06-06

Amazing dear..!!!

author

Thanks Bro :)

author
iamadam (author)2013-06-06

Thanks for this, I am attempting to grow these and I had no idea how to finish the project.  Any thoughts on drying them?

author
Tarun Upadhyaya (author)iamadam2013-06-06

Hi iamadam, You should be able to grow these just like any seeds. Just put a few seeds in container full of soil separated by about 3 inch each and gently cover them with soil. It grows without much maintenance. You don't have to do anything for drying, if you let the fruit stay in the vine, they will dry over a period of time which is usually 2-3 months depending on weather.
I hope I was able to help you.
Thanks.

author
sanorita (author)2013-06-04

When we were small my mom used this to clean our hands

author
Tarun Upadhyaya (author)sanorita2013-06-05

Oh yes, I think in India this thing is very native and in use since ancient times. Thanks for stopping by.

author
sanorita (author)2013-06-04

When we were small my mom used this to clean our hands

author
shail_mehra (author)2013-06-04

hey pal, u remind my old days.. when i used to go mah village in summer & used this "desi" loofah..!! well nice stuff u made..

author

Thanks buddy :), yes those days :) I miss them so much.

author
bajablue (author)2013-06-01

Fabulous you! I had no idea this is where loofahs came from!!!

author
Tarun Upadhyaya (author)bajablue2013-06-02

Thank you so much :)

author
samalert (author)2013-05-31

Damn tarun tats super awesome are those Granny tricks :P. Time to hunt for those gilki 0_0

author
Tarun Upadhyaya (author)samalert2013-05-31

Thank you so much for your kinds words :), I really appreciate that. Sometimes I feel that granny ticks can save the world....LOL at least from a Zombie Apocalypse LOL

author
Shubh V (author)2013-05-31

so very natural!!unbelievable eco-friendly loofah never ever heard of dis.really surprise u bring such wonders thru ur instrutable:-):-)

author
Tarun Upadhyaya (author)Shubh V2013-05-31

Thank you so much :) That is so nice of you to say and I really appreciate you being constantly providing feedback on my iBles. Thanks

author
lindarose92 (author)2013-05-31

Great Instructable!! I had no idea what a loofah was before, it's so useful!

author

Thanks you so much Linda :)

author
kirinwantsaskateboard (author)2013-05-31

Awesome! You have my vote!

author

Thank you so much, this means so much for me.

author
mrmerino (author)2013-05-31

Wow, I had no idea loofahs came from a fruit, I always thought it was a variety of sea sponge! Very cool, I'll keep an eye out for sponge gourds now.

author
Tarun Upadhyaya (author)mrmerino2013-05-31

Thank you :) Yes it looks a lot like some sea sponge.

author
HollyMann (author)2013-05-31

Tarun I love this so much! I hope you submit it to the contest - I think it should win! :) I don't know if you can buy these in the USA...or where...but you can buy seeds to grow your own. I think I'll do that this summer! LOVE this idea - I would definitely use it for dish sponges too!

author

Thanks Holly :). I did submit in the contest :). I searched on amazon.com for you and found these two links
http://www.amazon.com/Chickni-sponge-gourd-seed-packet/dp/B00022KF42
http://www.amazon.com/Luffa-Sponge-Gourd-Seeds-Packet/dp/B003ADB9GS
Hope they are of any use for you.

The possibilities with these are many :) Thanks again for your support.

author

Sorry I misread your comment, you knew where to buy seeds...right?

author
Ron0Fez (author)2013-05-31

Nice, well written

author
Tarun Upadhyaya (author)Ron0Fez2013-05-31

Thank you :).

author
mikeasaurus (author)2013-05-31

Wow, I had no idea

author

Thanks Mike :). That's why I love instructables, it gives us so many wow moments despite geographical boundaries, people across pond (many ponds actually...LOL)

author
mao7777777 (author)2013-05-31

Also it can be used to wash the dishes
I‘m sorry,If my grammar is wrong。so I am Chinese

author

Indeed it can be used to wash dishes. It's a good idea to replace eco-unfriendly (No idea if this term exists :D) things at home. You communication is as intended, so nothing to worry. I am from India and English is second language for me too :)

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Bio: An artist by birth, a software architect by choice, a lamp maker by passion, a learner forever. Featured Author here:)
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