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Sponges are commonly made from cellulose wood fibers or foamed plastic polymers. Some natural sponges are still sold, but most are now used either as body or facial sponges (bath sponges) or as tools for sponge painting.
The three other categories of available synthetic sponges are: low-density polyether (known as the rainbow packs of non-absorbent sponges), PVA (very dense, highly absorbent material with no visible pores), and polyester.
Polyester sponges are subdivided into a variety of types, some of which are reticulated (artificially broken-in) for ease of use. One type, double-blown polyester, has high water-retention ability approaching or equaling that of PVA sponges, but with visible pores and more diverse uses.
Cellulose sponges (because they are primarily made of wood fiber) can be a medium for the growth of harmful bacteria or fungi, especially when the sponge is allowed to remain wet between uses. Research at the University of Florida has found that if a wet sponge is heated in a microwave for two minutes most bacteria will be killed.
Media related to Cleaning sponges at Wikimedia Commons
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