I really dislike kitchen sponges, so to save a few bucks, I use to crochet cotton kitchen rags for dish washing. However, over time, I found that I didn't really care for them. They aren't abrasive enough to get off the stuck on gunk and they don't hold up well to repeated use. They also get slimy and gross when forgotten in the sink.
I wanted something that was easy to clean, long lasting, dried fast, and could wash and scrub too. The grocery store had what I needed in the form of a mesh scourer... They were made of what looked to be onion bag material, but they cost several dollars. I didn't want to spend money on something I felt wouldn't hold up or was not worth the cost. It wasn't really the price I balked at though. Like many of you may also feel, I thought, why spend money when it can be made at home for free with relatively little time and effort?
In this instructable I will show you step-by-step how I made the peach and red rectangle scrubber from a plastic mesh bag like the kind onions come in. The materials and tools are easy to obtain. The only special tool that you may not already have is a yarn needle. Even so, you may not need one since this project is very adaptable. At the end I will share my ideas for different style scrubbers that you can make, including one yarn free method.
- A plastic mesh bag like the kind onions come in- I used a bag that had freezer pops in it to make the scrubber shown. It was approximately 16 inches long.
- Acrylic rug yarn, about 2 - 2.5yards long - You can use any type of yarn, but I find the synthetic rug yarns to be the longest lasting, and they can withstand the abuse of use and being cleaned with bleach.
- Yarn Needle - It has a big eye and a blunt point. You can get them at just about any craft store.
- Seam ripper (optional)
- Onion Bag - Also known as mesh bag, or produce bag. It can refer to any kind of plastic mesh bag that produce and other products come in. They come in a variety of sizes and colors and textures. You will want to use the stiffer kind for this project. Not the limp, fabric like kind.
- Raw ends- The raw ends of the mesh bag is the cut, open ends.
- Working yarn - This is the yarn that is being led by your needle.
- Draw up the yarn - Pull the yarn all the way until there is no loop. It should be snug, but not so tight that you won't be able to slide your needle under the stitches later.
Step 1: Prepare Your Mesh Bag
Some mesh bags are closed on the end with a metal clamp or sealed by melting the ends together. Simply cut this off with scissors close to the clamp or seal. If your bag has a stitched on label, like mine, you can remove this with a seam ripper or scissors, or if you're lucky, pulling on the correct thread will pull out all the stitches in one easy tug. (This is very satisfying and worth the effort of figuring which string is the right one...)
Once you have removed the clamps, labels, or seals, you should have a mesh tube with raw ends. The bag I used gave me a tube that was about 16 in. long.
Step 2: Folding Your Mesh Bag
In this step, you are going to fold your tube. Take care while folding to keep edges lined up with each other, stretching the bag if needed.
- Lay your tube out flat, then bring each raw end to meet in the center. Think of where the raw ends meet as the "raw end line." Fig. 1
- Fold in half again along the raw end line. Fig. 2
- Now you are going to bring the two short sides together to meet in the middle. Fig. 3
- Fold in half again. Fig. 4
If you used a bag about the same size as mine, you should now have a rectangle. The size and length of your tube will determine the finished size of your scrubber, so don't worry if you didn't fold it exactly the same way or ended up with a different shape. The important thing is to fold the tube in such a way as to keep the raw ends closed up inside the folds. This is what will give your scrubber a neat appearance.
Step 3: Threading the Needle
Getting thick yarn through the eye of a needle can be a challenge even if it's a yarn needle with a big eye. Here is an easy way to do it.
- Wrap the end of the yarn once over the needle near the tapered end.
- Pinch the yarn as close to the needle as you can.
- Slide the needle out. You should be holding a little nub of yarn between your fingers.
- Wedge that little nub of yarn through the eye of the needle.
- Grasp the yarn and pull it through.
- Do not tie a knot in the end of the yarn.
In the next step, I will show you how to hide the end of the yarn in your stitching.
Step 4: Sewing Down the Side of the Scrubber
The scrubber can be stitched closed in many ways. I chose to do a blanket stitch, which I will show you here. Alternately, it can be whipstitched or straight stitched closed. Since the yarn part of the scrubber acts as a cleaning feature as well, I prefer to use the blanket stitch. It gives a little more surface area for soap to cling to than a whip stitch does, and I think it looks nice.
- In the opposite hand that you will be holding the needle with, place the long fold side of the scrubby in the palm of your hand with the open sides out. (Fig. 1)
- In the corner, insert the needle through the mesh from the bottom, (wiggling it to get it through. You do not want to rip or stretch the mesh) and pull the yarn through leaving about a 1 inch tail. You should have a tail coming out of the bottom, and the yarn you are working with (the working yarn) coming out of the top. (Fig. 2)
- Insert the needle from the bottom side a few millimeters from your first stitch (The width that you space your stitches is your personal preference. Try to stay consistent). Make sure that the working thread stays behind the needle. Draw up the thread making sure it closes around the tail. Sewing over the tail in this way will hide it. No need for knots! (Fig. 3 & 4)
- Continue sewing this way until you reach the corner.
Step 5: Sewing the Corner
When you reach a corner, you are going to do the blanket stitch in the same spot three times.
- Bring the needle up from the bottom in the corner. Keep the working yarn behind the needle, draw the yarn through. (Fig 5)
- Bring the needle up from the bottom in the same place as the last stitch. Keep the working yarn behind the needle, draw the yarn through. (Fig 6)
- Bring the needle up in the same place as the last stitch. Keep the working yarn behind the needle, draw the yarn through. (Fig 7)
When you are finished with this step, you should have rounded the corner. Continue stitching as in Step 4 and repeat Step 5 at each corner.
Sewing the ends:
Sometimes the layers don't all line up. So when you are stitching the ends, you want to make sure that you are inserting your needle low enough to catch all of the layers, or at least the two outer most layers. (Fig 8)
Step 6: Finishing the Project
When you have completed stitching all the way around your scrubber, run your needle up under some of the adjacent stitches and pull the working yarn through (Fig 9). Then clip off the excess yarn, and you're finished! (Fig 10 & 11)
Step 7: The Care and Keeping of Your Scrubber
Your new scrubber is tough, but it is not invulnerable. You should never use your scrubber to wash anything serrated. Serrated knives will inflict mortal wounds upon your scrubber. Cooling racks can be hazardous for them too.
The Scrubber can be rinsed and air dried. It is dishwasher and washing machine safe, however, due to its size, I suggest that it be placed in a basket or a laundry bag for washing in machines.
Sometimes food particles will get stuck inside your scrubber. You can rinse them out with the sprayer hose on your sink, or by swishing them around in water.
You can wash your scrubber in a bleach solution so long as you've used acrylic, not cotton yarn.
I do not recommend putting your scrubber in the dryer, it may melt.
Your scrubber will not scratch non-stick cooking surfaces.
Step 8: You Can Adapt This Project to Make Different Types of Scrubbers to Suit Your Needs and Style.
The Red Square with brown yarn - I made this one by folding the mesh tube into a square, making sure to keep the raw ends folded toward the inside. I did a blanket stitch around the edges and finished as outlined in step 6.
The Flower - I made this one by turning the ends up the tube to inside the middle of the tube. I folded it in half and stitched a running stitch up the middle with yarn. I gathered up along the running stitch and tied it off. Then I flattened it into a roundish shape and tacked it down with lazy daisy stitches. I alternated the colors on each side of the scrubber. Another way you could make this is if you have a small bag like the kind that garlic comes in. Don't cut the ends off. Turn it inside out and stuff the bag with another bag. A good use for those mesh bags that are softer than onion bags is to use them for stuffing. Stuff the opening of the bag down into the scrubber and then sew lazy daisies on it. On the first lazy daisy, sew all the way through to the other side. Put a daisy on the back side to cover the stitches. When you do the daisy on the opposite side, don't sew all the way through.
The Green and Yellow Scrubber - I used an avocado bag for this one. It came with a label on it. After removing it, I ended up with a tattered rectangle of mesh. It wasn't a bag or a tube after I got it off. I folded it and made sure all the raw edges were encased inside the folds. I did a blanket stitch around the outside, and then did some random needle weaving over the back of it. There is no pattern, and I'm not sure I can explain how I did it!
Crochet and Machine Binding Scrubber - The green and yellow scrubber gave me the idea that the backside of a scrubber could have a rag sewn onto it. If you're adventurous and have a sewing machine, you can put a cloth backing onto a scrubber folded into a square. To make this scrubber, I crocheted a square in acrylic rug yarn using the first three rows of this Simple Filet Crochet Starburst Square Pattern. I then bound the scrubber and square together with cotton fabric* and sewed on a sewing machine. The machine did not have any trouble sewing through the mesh. You could probably skip the binding and simply sew the scrubber to the square. *You may recall that I instructed to only use acrylic or synthetic yarn. That is because cotton yarns won't stand up to repeated use and bleaching. I expect that cotton binding won't last long either, but I have included it to show an alternative method.
I know there must be someone out there hanging onto loads of produce bags, just waiting for something that can be made from them. I hope that I have inspired you to give my instructable a try. I am looking forward to seeing your scrubber creations.