The very first thing I did when moving into my 100-year-old house a decade ago was install a dishwasher; I couldn’t wait one minute to have a machine do all the dishwashing. But there are some things you can’t just stuff in the dishwasher and be done with, such as a frying pan coated with dried scrambled-egg residue.
Cleaning such items with a sponge just makes the sponge gross and gak-covered, so I bought this little set of three hard plastic pot scrapers instead. I initially found the doodads when an insurance salesman mailed one to my mother as a promotional item in the 1980s, and while I thought it was clever as kid, I’m even more impressed by it now, considering that she’s still using the exact same one in her kitchen some 30 years later.
I use them to scrape stuck-on food residue directly into the trash, saving my pipes and keeping my pans pristine. The hard plastic edge of the scraper cleans any sort of stuck-on gunk without scratching your pots, pans, or dishes: baked-on eggs, burned cheese, hard-as-a-rock brownie pan residue, crusty lasagna, crusty oatmeal. It gets into every nook and cranny with minimal elbow grease, and once you’re done scraping, just rinse the scraper off or toss it in the dishwasher—it’s hard plastic, so no filthy food debris is able to stick to it.
All Scrub Daddy addicts, take note: That smiley-faced thing might be cute, but it still gets coated with whatever you’re scrubbing, rendering it filthy and disgusting after one or two uses. (Plus, it only lasts about eight days max before it totally disintegrates, leaving you with a wrinkled, dejected face that I like to call the Scrub Granddaddy.) Not to mention the fact that throwing away a sponge every week or so results in a ton of waste. Ask my mom: You’ll lose these little scrapers long before they wear out.
More Strategist-Approved Pot Scrubbers
Writer Foster Kamer tipped us off to the wonders of this Japanese scrubber, which he learned about from artist Jenny Holzer: “It’s got a rich, century-long history, and it’s since become one of the most common household objects in Japan. After ten minutes cleaning with it, you’ll know why. On first glance, its angry little brown fibers look like they’ll do more damage to your hands than your pots. But fear not: Those fibers, made of hemp palm, soften under water, enough for you to get a cozy, ticklish hold on. And then they will proceed to absolutely obliterate any grime you’ll come across, on any surface. They clean easily.”
Remember the kitchen-sponge scare of summer 2017? We went and found alternatives to sponges that were much less bacteria-friendly. These brushes fit the bill.
If you’re still clinging to the sponge, you could do worse than the Shark Tank–introduced Scrub Daddy, which by now is perhaps the world’s most famous sponge.