Welcome back to Materials Matter—a series where we explore why the materials used in our plant sponges, scrubbers, and dish brushes are better for you and the planet. We’re uncovering the uniqueness of each material and highlighting what makes it perfect for our earth-friendly products.
In this blog, we’re sharing all things bamboo: what it is, how it’s made, and what makes it the best natural material for plant-based dish brushes.
What Is Bamboo?
Is it a tree? Is it a grass? Bamboo might have some tree-like qualities, but it’s actually a grass native to Asia, Africa, and South America. It evolved from prehistoric grasses between 30 and 40 million years ago and has been cultivated for over 10,000 years.
Bamboo is the fastest-growing plant in the world, reaching harvest size in only 3-5 years.
Since bamboo shares many useful, wood-like properties, it can replace timber, which takes up to 20 years to harvest.
Bamboo’s strength, flexibility, and adaptability allow it to thrive in harsh conditions and grow virtually anywhere, making it an ideal and widely available material worldwide. Today, bamboo is used for textiles, furniture, construction, and countless products—including your favorite plant scrub brushes.
How Are Bamboo Brushes Made?
In China, bamboo brush-making has been around since the 15th century—over 500 years ago! Boar bristles and bamboo were used to create the first toothbrush, along with hairbrushes and brushes for other purposes, like cleaning.
Bamboo stalks are harvested and split lengthwise to produce brushes. Like wood pulping, the outer bark is removed. The stalks are chipped or crushed, treated, rinsed, and dried. Once dried, the bamboo can be shaped or joined to the desired brush shape and size. Lastly, bristles are added by tufting natural fibers to the brush head.
What Makes Bamboo Earth-Friendly?
Bamboo is one of the greenest plants—why we chose to use it! But what makes bamboo so eco-friendly? Several things. Bamboo is especially quick to harvest, carbon-saving, and seriously versatile—making it a gold medalist in the world of sustainable materials.
These are the qualities that give bamboo its sustainable superpowers.
Bamboo grows easily and super fast, which allows for quick harvesting. It can grow without fertilizers or pesticides, minimizing its environmental impact. Once harvested, this remarkable plant is also self-regenerating and requires no replanting. It’s the self-motivated, thrives-in-a-fast-paced-environment member on the team.
Like all plants, bamboo sequesters carbon but does an Olympic job at it—it can hold up to 5x more CO2 than pine trees and releases up to 35% more oxygen than most trees. It can also save carbon as a replacement for timber, concrete, and other emission-heavy materials. Research shows bamboo products have a low or negative eco-cost and can effectively replace steel and cement.
Bamboo can be used in many ways, leaving no part of the plant to waste. It can be eaten and used for cooking, spun into textiles for sheets and clothing, and processed into highly durable flooring and building materials. As interest in bio-based, low-carbon economies grow, so does the potential for bamboo to find new opportunities to multitask.
As with every natural resource, bamboo can have a negative environmental impact. As a fast-growing monoculture, it can spread and become invasive. An important reason to consider the health of the surrounding ecosystem before introducing a non-native plant.
Why Should You Choose Bamboo Dish Brushes?
While plastic has become the cheaper, easier-to-manufacture, synthetic material for brushes, there are many reasons to choose bamboo brushes or brushes made from natural materials instead. The most important is that with use, all brush bristles wear down over time.
Nylon bristles release toxins as they break down and slowly become microplastics that pollute our water, land, and air.
Natural brushes can be safely disposed of or composted by adding them to a municipal or home compost pile. Then mother nature takes care of the rest.
Sqwishful’s Bamboo Dish Brush
At Sqwishful, the perfect dish brush is plant-based, plastic-free, and compostable. We started with these fundamental ideas and chose bamboo for its sustainability.
To source the best bamboo, we went to China, where bamboo has been cultivated for over 10,000 years.
Today, we work with suppliers who share our vision of a perfect brush. They practice regenerative agriculture and maintain environmental and ethical certifications. In addition to being ISO 14001 certified, our Chinese suppliers are ISO 9001-2008 and BSCI compliant.
For Sqwishful founder Jenn, more important than certifications are site visits. They allow her to meet and learn from our supply teams and see their facilities—what they look like, who works there, how they work, and where they go for lunch.
We’ve taken one of the best natural materials for brushes and created a bamboo brush our customers love.
It’s equipped to give pots and pans a gentle but good scrub. Its natural bristles are soft enough to keep your favorite pans safe from scratches—but tough enough to scrub away stubborn stains and food remains.
It’s designed to be an ally in the battle against gunk. With its comfortable grip and densely packed bristles, scrubbing dishes doesn’t require brute force. No workout required! When the bristles wear out, replace the brush head with a simple twist and reuse the handle forever.
While most brushes are varnished and use nylon bristles, Sqwishful bamboo dish brushes are intentionally unvarnished and tufted using sisal from agave plants, a natural, strong, and biodegradable fiber that keeps them 100% compostable and plastic-free.
Toss it in the compost bin, leave it in the yard, or add it to a campfire. Though it may take some time, it will naturally biodegrade and leave behind no waste. When we say Sqwishful products clean and leave the world cleaner—we mean it. And while we don’t like to brag, it's won awards. But don’t take it from us, here’s what our customers have to say.
“My dishwashing workhorse
A handy, well-made, and well-designed kitchen tool. It's been in daily use at the kitchen sink for over a year and is still the perfect general-purpose kitchen brush. Oh, a bonus: a spare head makes a good brush for cleaning fruits & veg.” — JD H.
“Where was this all my life?
Beware of knockoffs! This is the real deal. I use this on pots and pans and love how the natural bristles get in on any excess dirt. Also, love how easy the brush itself manages to look brand new after a quick rinse. I alternate often between my pop-up sponge and my dish brush while I’m doing dishes. Both of them take the lead on all my dishwashing! Highly recommend. —Geraldine M.
Call it Sqwishful Thinking, but we’re here to change the cleaning industry. We’re proud to use sustainably sourced materials like bamboo to make our inspiring, plant-based scrub brushes. And to shine a light on the ways our materials are re-imagining zero-waste cleaning essentials for the future.