Plarn Dish Scrubbies- AKA Recycled Shopping Bag Sponges

On my post about reducing garbage output, I mentioned that I use few disposables, and among them are disposable sponges. I was thinking about switching to scrub brushes to wash dishes, but my husband was opposed to that investment for certain reasons.
Jennifer from Double Nickel Farm commented that she made her own crocheted yarn dish scrubbies from Walmart bought cheap yarn. While homemade sponges sounded interesting, I didn't think that anything made from cloth would be rough enough on dishes to get off stubborn pieces of dried food, nor did I feel like spending money on homemade scrubbies.
I remembered reading on Creative Jewish Mom's blog about making plarn, a "yarn" made from old shopping bags. I have many shopping bags lying around my house from my bi-weekly shopping trips and decided to upcycle (recycle materials and increasing their value) these bags into plarn and make my own plarn dish scrubbies.

Following CJM's instructions, I first made a roll of plarn. The way you do this is by cutting 1-2 inch wide horizontal cuts on a shopping bag so you're left with a bunch of  loops of plastic.
Then, you want to connect these loops into a long rope by knotting them like this:
(From Creative Jewish Mom's site.)

Once you've connected all the loops, you roll it up until you get a ball of your plarn.

You can now use this plarn to crochet.

To make my plarn scrubbies, I played around with a few different styles to find one which would work best.
First, I crocheted approximately 15 chain stitches across. I then used a double stitch and doubled back over to make my first row of my scrubbie. I added 2 more chain stitches, then flipped it over and made another row of double stitches. I did this again and again until I had a rectangle approximately the size and  shape of a sponge.
I could have single stitched. I could have made a round scrubbie. I chose a double stitch because it is quickest, and chose to make a rectangular scrubbie because its simplest since I didn't have to think about increasing each row.

I should have left it at that. But since I was used to a thicker medium to wash my dishes, I decided to make it bigger, double it over, and crochet the sides together so I would have something that closely resembles what I usually use to wash my dishes.

Ok, my camera is really stinky, so you can't see that this sponge really actually looks like a typical sponge (or at least as close as something crocheted can)... But I'll admit, its not as great as it looks. Because its so thick and the plarn is to thick to bend easily, this sponge is a little hard to use.

So I decided to go at my take two.

I made this pattern by alternating loops from blue and white shopping bags.
This time I stopped when I had a sponge sized rectangle. I then single stitched around the whole thing to finish it off, and ended up with this:

Ok, I'll admit, its not ultra beautiful. I didn't make the rows even enough. But who cares? Its meant to be used to wash dishes, not as a work of art.
It works great as a sponge, even if it is a little less beautiful than the double sided white one. The plarn is scratchy enough to make them good scrubbers. The best part of  all (aside for the fact that the cost was absolutely nothing) was that these took me maybe 20 minutes to make. 20 minutes of crocheting while I was doing other things- this took zero concentration on my part. Ok, thats probably why it looks the way it does, but as I said, who really cares. I've also been crocheting for a really long time (my Grandma taught me to crochet at age  8), so I am able to do this without concentrating on what my fingers and the hook are doing. However, the fact that these are double stitched and made with thick plarn make these go much quicker than most crocheting projects.

I think I'll start using these plarn scrubbies on a regular basis. They're fun. They're hip. They're different. They're green. They're FREE! Maybe I'll even make a side business, converting your old shopping bags into treasures. (Or... maybe not.)

Have you ever used plarn? Upcycled something?
Gutsy enough to try something like this?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. I think this is a great frugal project and am considering trying it. I'm curious though, do you think the plastic has had any negative effects? I have purged most plastic out of my kitchen so that is the only reason i hesitate on this project.

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