AKA: Not signing over the family budget to 3M.
Rob and I, sadly, have never owned a dishwasher in our 7 years of marriage. We both had dishwashers before we were married, but for some reason have only owned homes together that will not accommodate this particular boon of American middle-class existence. Although there are many other things that fall into this category we do not hanker after (appliance garages, are you serious?), we do aspire to one day own a home with a dishwasher. We can dream, right? In the meantime, we have had plenty of meals at home to perfect our low-tech family dish washing system. We prefer these soap-filled dish wands that ooze out just the right amount of soap while we’re washing. For several years, we replaced the sponge tips at regular intervals. They are actually pretty expensive–more than a dollar per sponge–and can’t be reused because the sponge separates from the plastic if you try to launder it. (Or overuse it.) But about a year ago I figured out a way to stop paying The Man for sponges every week–I just make our own. I crochet these little sponge covers out of washable acrylic yarn, and we tuck little washable, reusable sponges inside (the kind you can buy in multi packs for $1, cut in half, and still wash and re-use!). The whole thing fits nicely over the plastic framework from the original sponge refill (so if you’re going to try this at home, don’t throw that part away–just peel off the old sponge and leave the plastic framework in place).
We’ve been using these now for about a year, and today I decided some of our little crocheted sponge covers needed to be purged and replaced, which seems reasonable for the use they’ve gotten. They’ve been used and washed many times. The new ones only take a few minutes to make, too, and only a tiny amount of scrap acrylic yarn. If you crochet, this is how to make them: Using an H hook and worsted weight yarn, chain 5. Turn and single crochet a row of 4 stitches, repeat. (For two rows of 4.) Next row make an increase on each end, for a row of 6 single crochet stitches. Make 5 more rows of 6 stitches (for a total of 6). Single crochet evenly around the whole periphery, then repeat for 3 more rows. The sponge should look a little like a bootie. Slip stitch or use a yarn-threaded needle to sew together the top (narrow) half of the sponge, then slip a little cut-up sponge inside and tug the whole thing over the end of the dish wand.