What are Sea Sponges Used for?

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  • Written By: Jane Harmon
  • Edited By: L. S. Wynn
  • Last Modified Date: 16 October 2019
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Sea sponges are very simple animals that live on the ocean floor. They attach themselves permanently to an anchorage, and move sea water through their bodies, filtering out tiny organisms for food. The channels that the water flows through account for their hole-riddled structure, and is what makes their composition so useful.

They are harvested by divers; sponge-diving has been a family tradition in many areas around the Mediterranean Sea and off the coast of Florida in the U.S. They have been used as cleaning tools for thousands of years.

Manufactured cellulose sponges have decreased the market for natural sea sponges, and for common household cleaning use, they are certainly sufficient and much cheaper. Still, there are some applications where you might want to spend the extra money to get the genuine article.

If you love your car, you might want a large natural sea sponge to wash it with. When wet, sea sponges are very soft, much softer than their artificial cousins, and much less likely to damage a finish.

Some women prefer the gentle texture of a sea sponge to apply makeup, and remove it. Artists have always used sea sponges, both in clean-up of their tools and as another way to apply paint to a surface. Home decorators are now often 'sponging' paint on walls to create a particular look, such as a faux marble or stone.


One of the most interesting recent (and more than likely ancient) applications of sea sponges is as natural tampons. Several lines of natural bodycare products now offer sea sponge tampons, which are nothing more than sea sponges of a particular size. The sea sponge is soaked in water, squeezed as dry as possible, and then inserted into the vagina, where it absorbs the menstrual flow. If it is uncomfortable, the user can simply trim away some of the sponge to get a more comfortable 'fit'. The sponge can be removed and rinsed and reinserted every few hours until the user's cycle has ceased. It can then be cleaned with vinegar, or peroxide and air dried before being stored for future use. When cleaned properly, a sea sponge used as a tampon can last six months or more, and is much more earth-friendly than disposable tampons. They also do not carry the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome that regular tampons pose.

Sea sponges are a renewable resource; unless the oceans become too polluted for them to live, we can count on a steady supply.


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Discuss this Article

Post 13

Why the heck would you use a sponge in place of a tampon?

Post 12

They don't have blood so we can't say warm or cold blooded, plus that way of calling animals is only for vertebrates, like reptiles or avians.

Post 10

I wash my car with a sea sponge. It is so much softer than the old cotton rags I once used on my last car. I don't ever worry about scratching the paint with my sea sponge.

It almost feels too soft to clean with after I dip it in soapy water. It never lets me down, though. I can easily scrub away grease and dirt with it.

The coolest thing about the sea sponge is that it doesn't hang onto dirt and grease like other rags and sponges do. Once I clean it, it is seriously clean.

I always hated using stained rags to wash my car, because I was afraid I might actually be making it dirtier. With the sea sponge, I have a clean start and a clean finish every time.

Post 9

@seag47 – I am a painter, and I use a sea sponge for a couple of different things. I work mostly with acrylics, which are water based, so they can easily be manipulated with a wet sponge.

Any time I make a brush stroke where I didn't intend to, I use a moist sponge to quickly wipe it away. The sponge will pick up the paint rather than smear it, so it is better than using a wet brush.

I like to paint underwater scenes, so sometimes, I use the sea sponge to actually paint a sea sponge the easy way. I dip one side of the sponge in paint and press it onto the canvas. Once the sponge image dries, I can go back and add highlights and shadows to give it depth, but the sea sponge itself provides the main structure.

Post 8

I am currently studying art in college, but we have yet to use any sea sponges. I am interested in how they are used.

Does anyone here know exactly what artist do with sea sponges? I can see someone dipping one in paint and pressing it to a canvas for an interesting texture, but that is about all I can envision that they would be good for.

I want to learn all the tricks and techniques that I possibly can. It would be cool to find out about sea sponges before the rest of my class does.

Post 7

I can't imagine using a sea sponge as a tampon. It sounds like a lot of trouble!

I would hate to have to handle it with all that blood on it. Also, even though it may be safe to reuse, it doesn't seem sanitary to keep reinserting something that has been soaked in blood and moisture.

I'm sorry that it isn't as good for the environment, but I am going to stick to disposable tampons. Sea sponges sound like they require way too much effort and a strong stomach to use for a whole week once a month.

Post 3

are Sponges Protostomes or Deuterostomes?

Post 1

Are sponges cold or warm blooded?

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