Green Oil's Eco Sponge is good for dealing with stubborn, congealed gunge and grime, but the fibrous pad demands regular rinsing to prevent ingrained grit and similar contaminants scratching delicate surfaces, so proceed with particular caution around carbon fibre and similar finishes.
Imported from the Philippines as a fair trade product, the 'Sponge' is a by-product of the Luffa plant whose identity lies somewhere between a shredded wheat cereal and bath-side exfoliant.
Don't be deterred by the palm sized dimensions and mildly abrasive texture. Pop the Eco Sponge in a bucket of warm water and watch as it swells to softer and more useable dimensions in around a minute. For best results, give mucky steeds a bike-wash blow-over and allow it to marinate for a minute or two before racing round the finishing kit, frame and wheels in the usual fashion, employing a frequent, dip, squeeze and rinse routine as you go.
Green oil say the pad has a twelve month lifespan, whereupon it biodegrades harmlessly and without trace-more than can be said for the ubiquitous 99p car sponge. In practice, I've owned one that's managed 15 months and another that's bitten the dust within six. In fairness, the latter was force fed a relentless diet of crusty crossers, mucky mountain bikes and abandoned outside through a particularly cruel winter. Regular post wash rinsing and dry storing at room temperatures is key to maximising longevity.
Credit where it's due; the little sponge cuts effortlessly through excess Waxoyl, and the witches brew of mud, congealed grease and slime that culminates alarmingly quickly on winter roads. Saving the car sponge for a gentler caress on areas such as paint work that could be easily scratched, the Green Oil's matted texture exfoliates light tarnish and chain lube spatter from polished alloy rims while equally effective at rejuvenating cork wraps tainted with ingrained dirt.
At £3.49 it's not expensive, (although pricier than a 99p car sponge), and it certainly does the trick when it comes to cleaning componentry and the like. I'm a fan - I've bought a few, even so I can't help feeling that's it's not quite on a par with some of Green Oil's other products.
Great for cleaning the really dirty bits on your bike but very much a companion rather than replacement for the humble car sponge
road.cc test report
Make and model: Green Oil Eco Sponge
Size tested: n/a
"The EcoSponge is to our knowledge the world's first fair trade bike product. Supporting farmers in the Philippines, EcoSponge is a fantastic durable plant based fibre sponge specifically for bike cleaning". Generally agree but I've been uncomfortable using it on carbon/anodised components despite assurances to the contrary.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Made from the luffa plant native to the Philippines. Matted texture softens and swells to more usable dimensions in warm water and is designed for easy rinsing.
Will last a long time with basic care.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
As a compliment to the ubiquitous car sponge it's fantastic-especially for lifting trapped, ground in dirt common to handlebar wraps. However,it's a little abrasive for use on carbon and similarly sensitive finishes so won't be putting my 99p bargin bin special out to pasture just yet.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Ecologically friendly and very efficient on grime/light oxidisation.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
A little too harsh for carbon, anodising and thinner paint jobs.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes,
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes as an addition to, as distinct from replacement for the foam cell type of sponge
About the tester
Age: 38 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)