How-To: Magically Clean Eco Tawashi

Craft & Design Yarncraft

CRAFT: Cozy Up to Yarn

Lion Brand Yarn

Magically Clean Eco Tawashi
Crochet this pretty and practical acrylic sponge to clean your dishes without soap.
By Narumi Ogawa

A Japanese friend introduced eco tawashi to me about 5 years ago, when he asked me to make a crochet motif with 100% acrylic yarn. He explained that the yarn is made of very fine synthetic fibers similar to microfiber, and that this fine-filamented material is the key to magical cleaning. The acrylic sponge is scratch-free, and you can use it not only for dishes, but also for the bathtub and shower, for washing a car — basically anywhere you want.
The best part of using eco tawashi is that you can do dishes without soap. This way, you save lots of water and you don’t need to use synthetic detergent, which drains into our lakes, rivers, and oceans. If your plates are a little greasy, add some baking soda or vinegar, and you’ll be surprised by the results.


7 colors of acrylic yarn You can use any 100% acrylic yarn. For specific colors and brands, see
U.S. size F5 (3.75mm) hook
Yarn needle
Yarn marker or safety pin

Finished Size:
4¾” (12cm) diameter, without ears
Gauge: 15 sc × 14 rows = 4″×4″ (10cm×10cm)
CC contrast color
MC main color
ch chain
sc single crochet
sl st slip stitch
st(s) stitch(es)
rep repeat
Pattern Note: This pattern is in continuous round, without turning or joining at the end of each round, unless otherwise specified. Place a marker in the first stitch of each round so that you can easily distinguish the beginning of each round.


Step 1: Make the front.
With the main color, chain 3, then slip stitch in the first chain to form a ring.
Round 1 Chain 1, 6 sc into the ring. Do not join in first st — 6 sc total.
Round 2 Work 2 sc in each st round, place marker in first st — 12 sc total.
Round 3 *Sc in next st, 2 sc in next; rep from * around, replace marker in first st throughout pattern — 18 sc total.
Round 4 *2 sc in next st, sc in each of next 2 sts; rep from * around — 24 sc total.
Round 5 Sc in the next st, 2 sc in the next st, * sc in each of next 3 sts, 2 sc in next st; rep from * 4 times, sc in each of last 2 sts — 30 sc total.
Round 6 Sc in the next 3 sts, 2 sc in the next, * sc in each of next 4 sts, 2 sc in next; rep from * 4 times, sc in the next st — 36 sc total.
Round 7 * Sc in the next 5 sts, 2 sc in the next st; rep from * around — 42 sc total.
Round 8 * 2 sc in the next st, sc in the next 6 sts; rep from * around — 48 sc total.
Add the contrast color and finish the last 2 rounds.
Round 9 Switch to CC5, sc in the next 2 sts, 2 sc in the next st, * sc in the next 7 sts, 2 sc in the next; rep from * 4 times, sc in the last 5 sts — 54 sc total.
Round 10 Sc in the next 6 sts, 2 sc in the next, * sc in the next 8 sts, 2 sc in the next; rep from * 4 times, sc in the last 2 sts — 60 sc total.
Sl st in next st. Fasten off and leave a long tail. Use the needle to weave it in.
Step 2: Make the back.
Work the back the same as the face pattern, alternating colors as follows:
Rounds 1-2 CC1
Rounds 3-4 CC2
Rounds 5-6 CC3
Rounds 7-8 MC
Round 9 CC4
Round 10 CC5
Sl st in next st. Fasten off and leave a long tail for sewing.
Weave in all the tail ends as in the fifth image in Step 1, weaving each tail into its own color, except for the last color, which you leave long.
Step 3: Knot the nose and eyes.
Little bullion knots are perfect for making cute eyes and a nose. With 2 strands of CC4 held together, make knots for the eyes. Then with 2 strands of CC6 held together, make a bullion knot for the nose, and sew the mouth.
Step 4: Make the ears.
With CC3, chain 6 and fasten off, leaving a long tail for each piece.
Weave the ears into the back side of the face.
Step 5: Assemble the monkey.
Now you have 2 completed pieces, face and back. Sew the edges together with a straight stitch using the long tail left over from Step 2. Don’t forget to make sure the pieces are facing right sides out before you sew them together.
You’re now ready to go wash something!
About the Author:
Mr. Funky blossomed in 2003 when Narumi Ogawa turned crocheting from hobby to magic. Her designs come from memories of her playful childhood.

30 thoughts on “How-To: Magically Clean Eco Tawashi

  1. Ingrid says:

    I’ve bought similar scrubbers made out of Phentex from a crafter at a flea market on Vancouver Island. I’ve not tried using them without soap, but they’re gentle and tough.

  2. miriam dema says:

    am i the only one that thinks it’s strange that you’re telling us it works great without soap and the picture shows a sink full of soap bubbles?

  3. carmen says:

    I don’t crochet, but I suppose knitting a square with acrylic yarn will do the same trick, right?

  4. Goli Mohammadi says:

    Right you are, Carmen. A knit version should do the trick just fine.

  5. Goli Mohammadi says:

    It’s true that the sink is indeed full of bubbles, Miriam :) Eco tawashi works with or without soap, not just exclusively without.

  6. Heffalump says:

    I thought the sink full of bubbles was sending a mixed message too…
    but the idea of a crochet scrubby is cool!

  7. Goli Mohammadi says:

    Sorry! Not meaning to send any mixed messages :)

  8. Joshua Conner says:

    Is there a something particular to acrylic yarn that makes it work without soap? That’s the part I’m having trouble getting my head around.

  9. Anonymous says:

    How does it make that many bubbles out of water without soap?

  10. Anonymous says:

    I’m wondering the same thing.

  11. Sandradee says:

    I thought it had to be the special anti-bacterial acrylic yarn from Japan. Will just any old acrylic work? Is the antibacterial yarn just a bonus?

  12. Sarah says:

    soap removes bacteria and viruses that would be left behind using the cleaning pad alone.

  13. jelli says:

    you need tqo use namibuto antibacterial yarn to make proper ones that inhibit bacteria, and can be used without detergents.
    regular acrylic will be like any other wash cloth you can make, so will be fine but not antibacterial. you will need to use soap and wash and sun dry it regularly to stop it getting icky

  14. Mr.funky says:

    Thank you for reading Eco Tawashi article.
    I must say that you might use soap, but the purpose of Eco Tawashi is to not to use the soap.
    The acrylic yarn is made with synthetic fiber which is very similar to microfiber and that fine filament materials is almost as powerful as synthetic detergent.
    In my article, I suggested to use baking soda or vinegar( it really really works!)instead of synthetic soap for extra cleaning.
    I would not suggest to use Eco Tawashi to clean dishes that are contaminated by salmonella( like raw chicken) ,
    but overall, you don’t need to use soap.
    Some of the reader’s comments suggest that you can use antibacterial yarn to make Eco Tawashi. There are some acrylic yarns that compound of silver ion which is the key of antibacteria.
    This is Japanese website sells those silver ion acrylic yarns for making Eco Tawashi.

  15. Kat says:

    To make it easier next time, you can crochet right over the ends of each color so you won’t have to weave them in afterwards.
    I was also confused by the bubbles in the sink. Can you microwave acrylic? That’s what I do to disinfect my regular sponges. I don’t think I trust any material to be completely antimicrobial, so I take precautions when working with cleaning sponges, scrubbies, and rags.

  16. kat says:

    Wow, I’m amazed that a (quite) respectable magazine as craftzine can have a post that is uninformed (just use acrylic yarn and baking soda and you won’t have to worry about bacteria) as well as confusing (picture of soap bubble when the whole article is screaming: no soap because soap is not eco-friendly). Not only that, despite readers comments expressing disbelief, confusion and (scariest of all) belief in this poorly researched article (“my friend told me so”), there has been no official response within the article itself. Maybe I was too ambitious to hope that craftzine would have the same rigor that makezine brings.

  17. Goli Mohammadi says:

    Hi Kat,
    Please look at the comment posted below by Mr. Funky (Narumi Ogawa), the author of the article, which answers your questions and concerns.
    As for the image at top, that was my mistake for choosing the one with the bubbles, and my apologies for the overt confusion it has caused. There’s nothing to say that you can’t use Eco Tawashi with soap, just that you can use it without for light cleaning.

  18. Mr.funky says:

    Hi Kat,
    I didn’t write article about ” eco tawashi” because my freidn told me so. My friend INTRODUCED me and after that I researched a lot about Eco tawashi.
    Eco Tawashi is huge in Japan.
    Please read these Japanese articles about Eco Tawashi(You can use Google Translation)
    There are so many articles in Japanese but I couldn’t find any in English.
    There is a website sells acrylic yarns that compound silver ion which is antibacteria.
    Also Japanese version of Vogue Knit publishes ” Eco Tawashi” books under “let’s knit series”.you can order at Kinokuniya book store.

  19. Sara M. says:

    I find it saddening so many want to point out the sink full of bubbles, which is afterall just a picture to make the sponge look good (Yes I understand the environmental issues, I use phosphate-free soap, which is less bad). I’m sure after reading this, most people would google Eco Tawashi on their own, and if they are using stinky sponges on their dishes, then hey–survival of the fittest. It probably won’t kill them. The person who commented before me came off very arrogant and really made me feel like people spend too much time messing around on the internet and not enough time with human interaction.
    I appreciate the tutorial, I have a lot of acrylic I don’t know what to do with, and maybe some of my friends would appreciate a little sponge…. So, thank you. Sorry a tutorial about a sponge has become so controversial. ;)

  20. Mr.funky says:

    I think some people are leaving arrogant comments without trying this. They haven’t even heard about Eco Tawashi before, but writing like know-it-all.

  21. Claire says:

    Haha, who knew a dish scrubber crochet pattern would have such a heated debate attached to it.
    I think this scrubber is ADORABLE! I’ve made cotton pot scrubbers before, and they really do the trick in terms of getting crap off of dishes. And besides, who wants to look at nasty mildewy sponges all day?
    Whether you use soap or not, I think this pattern is great :)

  22. sms says:

    I was just curious…was this submitted to for the project, or the fact that people get so hung up on bubbles?

  23. Nina says:

    You people are crazy with your soap- you haven’t really stopped to think. Most soap is not anti-bacterial in the first place, that is a pretty newish concept. You’re letting these companies sell you antibacterial soap that lessens your immunities to really basic bacteria in the environment. We live with multitudes of bacteria that are not bad for us, some are even good for us. I refuse anything antibacterial unless I have a infection. I also never have infections, and I haven’t been sick in about eight years.
    Besides that- I personally can attest to baking soda and vinegar to clean. I clean my whole house with baking soda,borax, vinegar, lemons, washing soda, and a bit of vodka. All available at almost any supermarket. Cleans wonderfully without harsh chemicals, and I feel it is an excellent way to practice ethical consumerism. I use various recipes to clean my laundry, my bathroom, my kitchen… everything.
    I appreciate your post, although I don’t know how to knit. I’m hoping to learn soon and I will surely try this!

  24. anna says:

    This is another nice idea for cutting back on commercial cleaning agents. The whole soap/no soap debate seems to be a personal one. But I think, if the dishes look and feel clean for me, and they sicken no one, then they are clean. I for one am looking forward to cutting back on my consumption of dishwashing liquids.

  25. marnee says:

    this isn’t specifically to sarah but here goes. Firstly, I’ve worked in the home care sector for several years and many many years ago I learned that soap doesn’t kill viruses or bacteria. You are just as well off to wash your own hands with straight water for 3 minutes and it does just as good a job so as far as the no soap scrubby is concerned it should be exactly the same. Just my 2 cents.

  26. Zaz says:

    acrylic alltogether is a derivate of petrolium and i think we should stop using that in our yarns.
    we use up too much energy to produce yarn already and with acrylic we even use the source of energy plus acrylic does not get recycled naturaly in nature, unlike cotton and wool that burn dow to 0.
    well anyway, it is just like those ideas of eco bags knit/crocheted using tons of other plastic bags to make just one, plastic also is a derivate of petrolium.
    after that to each their choices.
    ps: there are sponges coming from the sea as well as some coming from plants and both are totaly biodegradable for those interested in non “whatever fiber” sponges are made of.
    borax vinegar and the likes are good however on another topic.
    hell! crochet tawashi and just enjoy the process even :-)

  27. Allison Dey says:

    How is using petrochemical yarn eco-friendly? Acrylic yarn is made from oil refuse. What about using sisal? Or hemp? Or loofah which can be grown in the backyard? I do love the idea of making one’s own and this is a really beautiful rainbow of colors. I love it, but I am increasingly frustrated at so many DIY options that are meant to be eco-friendly that use either toxic plastics (PUL, nylon, vinyl, PVA, oilcloth for snack bags, food storage, bowl covers, etc.) or other petrochemicals such as acrylic yarn. What happened to repurposing old cloth or using organic cotton, linen, hemp, or wool? If it’s OIL it is NOT eco-friendly. Please consider renaming this post.

  28. mawmom says:

    good grief I don’t think the idea here was to turn this into a political debate about the soap or the yarn or even the anti bacterial properties of Dawn dishwashing liquid. It is a cute idea, using less soap is environmentally friendly(perhaps not as much as if we all went back to having our own sheep, cotton fields and pot plants to make hemp out of) This is a craft article about a trend in Japan (A CRAFT ARTICLE) not a debate on global warming and if its better to use the by products from the production of petroleum or not. SIGH!!
    Thank you for a lovely scrubie idea

  29. 16 Home Trends You'll See in 2016 | Housekeeping Maid Easy : House Cleaning Services in Indianapolis says:

    […] reusable paper towel rolls, swiffer pads, produce bags, bowl covers to replace plastic wrap, Eco Tawashi to replace scrubbers, and tea and coffee […]

  30. Tawashi, a esponja ecologicamente correta – Tudo para Artesanato says:

    […] Fotos: 1.Marie Claire, 2.WGBH, 3.Online Fabric Store, 4.Pacscrap, 5.Buchas Bonfim de Minas, 6.Makezine […]

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at or via @snowgoli.

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