Tea with friends


How do you redesign a product that is just about as perfect as they come?


We have been wanting to create a new dish brush and scourer for some time but really struggled with where to start. Then one day after having a good cuppa and catch up with an old friend I offered to wash up in her quaint little kitchen and there it was, sitting in the bottom of her sink, the most beautiful dish brush I have ever seen. It was old, it was battered, it was almost worn down to the wire but there was still life in it yet. This simple wire brush, picked up in a french, antique market, felt so comfortable in my hand as I was washing out our teacups. I knew instantly that this was our new dish brush.


I was eager to get this brush in the wonderful hands of our brush makers in Sri Lanka and see how they could reimagine it for me. But then covid happened and I had to wait 3 long years before I was able to travel again. Sure, I could have discussed our new design over zoom but this was one special brush and it needed to be seen and importantly held in person.

Creating a prototype


Wasantha is the head twister for ECOMAX Brushes, she was my first point of call when I landed in Sri Lanka. She has over 20 years of experience twisting coconut fibre brushes and is very skilled at knowing the precise level of tension and quantity of fibre needed to create the perfect brush. She helped us refine the details and mocked up some sample brushes.


But then came our first obstacle, how to create a uniform handle that was both comfortable and functional. We set about bending brush handles free form until we settled on the perfect curve, one that sat just right in the palm of your hand. In order for every handle to have the same perfect curve we made a metal jig that the wire could be bent around creating uniform handles every bit as beautiful as the last. These tiny details often seem obvious and insignificant, but when working with crafters used to doing everything by hand these components take a long time to navigate and are extra satisfying when achieved.


With the handle sorted we moved on to the brush head, we wanted a perfect little circle, were we asking too much? Perfect circles are difficult to achieve when each brush is crafted by hand, each circular head needs to be bent with muscle power alone. We played around with the size of the circle and the gauge of the wire until we found the perfect formula for strength in the brush when scrubbing, ease of twisting and bending for the craftswomen and, most importantly, a beautiful looking brush.

A vision in white: why we chose white coconut fibre


We wanted a fresh new look, we wanted an eco-friendly dish brush that wouldn’t look out of place in a new sleek and modern kitchen, we didn’t want to compromise on style or substance, we wanted to have both. We love all the amazing natural qualities of coconut fibre, and knew that there is no better bristle than coconut husk for a wet, hard-working dish brush. But we wanted to lighten it up a bit.


Why we love Coconut husk fibre:
it is hard-wearing,
& biodegradable.


How do you bleach coconut fibre while still being mindful of the environment? Hydrogen peroxide is one of the gentlest bleaching agents and is even used commonly in personal care for whitening your teeth, cleaning contact lenses and as a mild antiseptic for wounds. As for its environmental credentials hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) biodegrades readily to water (H20) and oxygen (O2) in the presence of natural light. The water from this process is then used to water the vegetable gardens around the Kurunegala factory (our secound brush factory based in rural Sri Lanka).


Finishing touches


Once we were happy with the look of our new brush design, we did a trial run with the women who would be responsible for handcrafting the brushes. We wanted them to test run the production process to foresee any issues that may crop up under the strain of full-scale production. It is not till our producers give their blessing that a new brush gets the go ahead.


With the dish brush perfected the scourers were easy, or so we thought, but what size do we make them? We couldn’t decide so settled on both small and large, we know how versatile coconut scrubbers are and that you can never have enough of them around the house, having them in a variety of sizes just means more hands can get cleaning in more places. And the fact that now both the dish brush and the scrubbers are dishwasher safe (no timber handle!) means you can give them a good thorough clean with no effort.


And last but not least, we needed a name for our perfect little circle brushes, our perfect little circle, plastic free, zero waste brushes….


And with that our new zerO Dish Brush and zerO Pot Scourers were born.

What do you think? Let us know if you love the new design as much as we do!