Man-made sponges are recognized by everybody, but some people may not be aware of the fact that they are designed after one of nature’s most interesting creations. Natural sponges are aquatic creatures; technically the simplest animals on the planet. Their bodies (a loose term in this instance) filter water for the nutrients they need to survive. This functional design makes them naturally absorbent when removed from water, a design synthetic sponges replicate.
Often made of polyurethane foam, absorbing foam sponges retain water and suds for cleaning dishes, cars, counters, and even bodies when bathing. With just enough abrasiveness to remove grit and dirt, they’re soft enough to not scratch or hurt fine china or skin. Many varieties of dish sponges feature a scouring pad of shaped foam to give it extra cleaning ability for difficult spots and baked-on food.
Sponges don’t exist exclusively for work however, and many become foam pieces that children can use as water toys or arts and crafts. Their absorbent nature makes them fun and interactive learning tools, while remaining soft and safe. When dipped in ink or paint, sponges turn into fun stamping tools.
Sponges are a major part of many DIY projects around the house as well. Bars of hand soap placed on a dry sponge in the bathroom or shower helps the soap last longer. When wrapped around a shovel or rake handle, a sponge turns into a padded grip that can prevent blisters. When trimmed into tiny pieces, sponges can pad picture frames and clocks, keeping them from scratching walls. When shredded, sponge foam is repurposed by manufacturers as carpet underlayment. No matter how they’re used, sponges possess a special set of characteristics that lend themselves to innumerable projects and tasks.