What's the big deal?
Cleanliness has been developed into an art form. Far beyond its original intentions of wiping away dirt so it doesn't get in your food, bathing has become a near-global obsession among first-world countries. Once upon a time people typically bathed once a month, or less, when they simply became far too dirty and smelly. Today showers are at least daily exercises for a great many people, and a huge amount of specialized products have risen up to take advantage of this.

Soap is no longer king. Soap doesn't rinse clean, it robs the skin of moisture, and vegans object to the fact that it's made from animal products. Moisturizing, perfumed, pH balanced body wash (with exfoliating acupuncture feng-shui nanomagnets) has taken its place in showers all over as people decide they can afford to pamper themselves a little and take every advantage to make themselves look healthy and attractive. And the good old washcloth has been thrown out along with the bar of soap.

What is it?
The nylon pouf has replaced the traditional washcloth. A pouf is a nylon mesh bunched into a ball and attached to a loop of cord or a short plastic stick, designed specifically to be used with body wash. The advantages are several. The scrunched design provides an enormous amount of surface area for its size. The mesh itself encourages lather by providing thousands of tiny holes for soap suds to form between, and is also gently exfoliating. Finally, the cord or stick provides a convenient hand-hold and also a way to hang it to dry between uses.

Poufs come in two basic sizes (varying by manufacturer): slightly larger than your fist and about twice as big as your fist. The smaller is easier to hold while the larger covers a larger surface, which makes cleaning faster and holds more lather. They come in a variety of colors, although white and pastels are the most popular.

Care of the pouf is very easy. Its nylon construction won't rot or decay, and using it involves lathering it up with soap so cleaning it regularly would be pretty redundant. All you really need to do is rinse it thoroughly (although this can take a while, all that mesh holds lather very well) and hang it up to dry. When necessary, they are machine washable.

Why doesn't everybody have one?
The problem with poufs though is that they have an inherent air of effeminate pampering about them. Very few men use a pouf largely because of this, and the pastel colors they come in. They were specifically marketed toward women and this isn't helping matters either. My experience with them however suggests that they are extremely efficient and very effective cleaning products. And if you don't like the pastels, there's always white.

generic-man says Zest briefly employed Craig "Ironhead" Heyward as a spokesman to sell poufs to men, but I don't think they were too successful.

Pouf Pouffe (pOOf), n. [Written also pouff.] [F. pouf. Cf. Puff, n.]

Lit., a puff; specif.:


A soft cushion, esp. one circular in shape and not, like a pilow, of bag form, or thin at the edges.


A piece of furniture like an ottoman, generally circular and affording cushion seats on all sides.


© Webster 1913

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