What is a loofah? Where does it come from? What are loofahs good for? The answers might be kind of surprising to you. I was shocked when I learned.

What is a Loofah?

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What is a loofah? Where does it come from? What are loofahs good for? The answers might be kind of surprising to you. I was shocked when I learned you can actually grow loofahs in your backyard.

Loofahs and a bar of oatmeal soap on a table

Loofahs or luffas (either spelling is correct according to Wikipedia) are actually a gourd. They grow vigorously on a vine.

Loofahs can be eaten when young or allowed to mature on the vine when they become very fibrous. They are excellent to use for bathing and many other things. Click here to see more uses for luffas.

It’s not as hard as you might think to ditch and switch to natural products. For more ideas than just luffas, check this out.

What is a loofah made of?

Loofah is made of a very strong, fibrous material that grows naturally. They grow in the shape of the sponge that you see at the store. It’s hard to even imagine how they grow this way. They start out on the vine very soft and mushy, but if left to mature fully, they grow the fibers of the loofah you’re used to seeing. It’s almost unbelievable. 

The loofah gourd is harvested when it begins to turn yellow. The skin is removed and seeds are taken out. It’s then washed and dried and cut into lengths convenient for bathing. Some people use loofah fragments or slices in soaps as well.

Bucket of freshly picked loofahs sitting on a table.

It’s amazing that a sponge actually grows in the home yard or garden. Loofahs are fascinating to grow. I mean, you can actually GROW a bath sponge. It’s mind-boggling. 

Loofah cost

If you buy loofahs, they can be quite costly. You can get the ones we grow here in the preschool garden when available here. I have seen them in stores from $5 to $25 each. They are difficult to germinate, only grow in certain climates and take up a lot of growing space. 

There are many benefits to using luffas. They are natural fibers, so that makes them great for the environment. They last for quite a long time, even up to a year. So once you make the investment, they are worth it. 

Simply wet your loofah like you would a washcloth or scrubby. Lather it up with your soap or body wash and scrub away. The sponges are excellent exfoliators.

Washing with a luffa will keep your skin soft as you wash away dead skin cells with the scrubbing power. Even just twice a week will have your skin looking great. Not only does the luffa exfoliate the skin, but it also improves circulation.  

Keep your loofah clean and dry in the shower. We hang ours on a shoelace so it doesn’t remain damp. Make sure you rinse your loofah thoroughly, shake the water out, and then hang somewhere to dry. Allowing the luffa to stay moist will cause it to mold and collect bacteria. If you think your luffa is harboring bacteria, you can wash it with a mild bleach solution.

Loofah sponge, towel, and a bar of soap on the counter

Can you eat loofah?

If you harvest your loofahs young, you can eat them raw or cooked. Loofahs have a flavor similar to zucchini. And they also have a small amount of slime like okra, but not as severe. They are an excellent source of vitamin A and antioxidants. They are commonly referred to as Chinese okra. 

Luffas are fascinating to grow, eat and use. If you have a nice, long, hot summer and plenty of room, grab some seeds and grow some this year. If you don’t, I still suggest using luffas in your shower. I love the idea of using natural materials for anything I can. Isn’t it amazing the learn what is a loofah?

Luffa seeds cause diarrhea and induce vomiting, so I wouldn’t recommend eating them. My kids wanted to try them, so I tried to research it and there is very little information available about consuming them.

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  1. I have been growing luffa for several years, letting 2 of 3 gourds get really big to save for seeds. Once I had saved seeds and forgot about them. I threw them in the garden after 10 years and they sprouted. I have some 5″ long to eat in stir fry, but have to peel them because the peel tends to be bitter and it’s too much fiber for this 83 year old lady. The yellow blossoms are lovely in Sept in Oklahoma and the carpenter bees love them.

    1. I love that. We have eaten some, but we usually let them make sponges. It’s fun to experiment. They taste good. Thank you for your comments and for reading!