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    Updated on Apr 10, 2020. Posted on Apr 10, 2020

    Scrub-A-Dub-Dub, We Reviewed The Best Kitchen Sponges

    This is going to be a lot to absorb.

    We hope you love the products we recommend! All of them were independently selected by our editors. Just so you know, BuzzFeed may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page if you decide to shop from them. Oh, and FYI — prices are accurate and items in stock as of time of publication.

    The humble sponge is the hardest-working tool in your kitchen, always there to suds a single plate or scrub up after an extravagant Thanksgiving.

    Nickelodeon Animation Studio / Via giphy.com

    Choosing the right one can help you avoid smelly sponge hands, endless scouring, and that looming sense of dishes dread. Whatever you typically spend on sponges, our picks might just make you look forward(ish) to your next charred pot!

    Editor's Note: We're currently updating these picks! Check back soon for more.

    Scotch-Brite Non-Scratch Scrub Sponge

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    Our $ pick, Scotch Brite’s Non-Scratch Scrub Sponge, has a little bit of everything. Its scrubby side can coax charred tomato sauce out of a stainless steel pan with very little elbow grease and without holding onto charred bits and tomato sauce for several days afterward (as long as you rinse it well under the faucet). Its spongy side quickly lathers and spreads them around so they can actually do their job. As we discovered in testing, multifunctional sponges are key — if you can’t scrub and make lots of suds with it, what’s the point? It’s also comfortable to hold, doesn’t start to look disgusting even after several encounters with excessively dirty pots, generally rinses clean of any food particles or stains, and dries quickly (which helps prevent bacterial growth).

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    We tested each sponge, including seven options in the $ category, to see if they’d scratch common dishes like wine glasses, plastic melamine cups, and three types of pans: stainless steel, ceramic, and Teflon non-stick. While the Non-Scratch Scrub Sponge didn’t scratch anything when used to lightly scrub, when we put hardcore elbow grease into it (pretending to be muscular football players), it left thin lines on the melamine cup that were very visible in regular light, and a few slight scratches on the outside of the stainless steel pan that you could see by shining it in the light (the package does note that it’s not for use on stainless steel appliances).

    So if you have a dishes-do-er with running back strength in your house, and some melamine or stainless steel around that often requires intense scrubbing, consider yourself warned. (There were a couple of other sponges in this price category that didn’t scratch anything at all, but they all lacked a scrubby back — a total deal-breaker when you’re faced with a stubborn dish.)  

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    One of our editors (and their mom!) has used these Non-Scratch Scrub Sponges for most of their life, and says that they really do hold up to tough use, whether or not you have a dishwasher nearby. But if you don’t take care of them, they can start to stink (thanks, bacteria!) in as little as two or three days. To prevent that, when you’re done with dishes, completely rinse off any and all food residue (ideally with hot water), seriously squeeze out the excess water, and let it dry out completely overnight, every night. TBH, this basic “sponge hygiene” will help any sponge last longer.

    Because the Scotch-Brite Non-Scratch Scrub Sponge is made from cellulose (as were all the sponges in this category), a material usually derived mostly from wood or plant pulp, they don’t last forever. Even if you squeeze them out every night, these are the kind of sponges that are best to replace every two weeks or so. And that’s as long as you clean them every three or so days (or at least once a week), either by running them through the dishwasher with a heat-dry cycle or wetting them and heating in the microwave for one minute.

    Unfortunately, this sponge isn’t biodegradable — almost none of the more eco-friendly sponges held up well enough after use for us to recommend them. We’d hoped Scotch-Brite’s Greener Clean sponge might be the answer, but it didn’t hold its own against the worst cooked-on food. Because the scrub pad isn’t biodegradable or compostable, you’d still have to contribute to a landfill every time you replaced it, or somehow peel the scrub pad off of the sponge, and compost the sponge.

    But if you’re in the market for a basic, cheap sponge that’ll give you the most bang for your buck, we recommend picking up a pack of Scotch-Brite Non-Scratch Scrub Sponges! Don’t just take our word for it; see what a few of the more than 800 positive reviewers from Amazon have to say.

    Get it from Amazon for $5 (6-pack)

    Sponge Daddy Sponge

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    What if you could have a sponge that scrubs like hell and holds onto soap longer than the cellulose sponges you’re used to, but still lets tiny bits of food rinse-free and isn't likely to stink up a storm if you get a little lazy about rinsing it one night? Well, you can — with the dual-sided Sponge Daddy, part tough plastic Scrub Daddy material, part sponge. It’s incredibly flexible, especially under hot water, so you can push it down into even the funkiest-shaped dishes to clean every nook and cranny. One small dose of soap can actually last through several dishes. And because it’s not made primarily from vegetable cellulose, it actually stands up to the bacteria that makes your hands stink, though you still should sanitize it regularly by dampening it and microwaving for one minute.

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    We also just like the tactile feel of it: the contrast of the textures on the two sides, and their pleasant almost-slipperiness; the way the scrub side softens in warm water but firms up in cold; the extra bubbliness of the soap. Enjoying one of the physical sensations of washing dishes adds a little something that kinda makes it less of a chore. In our scratch tests, the tough side did leave a few barely noticeable lines on a melamine cup when we scrubbed super hard; with normal use, we can’t see this scratching much at all, as long as we used soap and water.

    We also recommend this over the Scrub Daddy — which we tested for the $$$ group — mostly because of the additional sponge side, which is so good at making a small amount of soap last. It’s also easier to maneuver the Sponge Daddy into small cups than the bigger Scrub Daddy. That said, some of our testers sometimes found themselves in a Scrub Daddy mood: the lemon scent, the functional gimmicks (you can clean utensils in its mouth and use its eyes for a better grip), and the cheesy smile do make washing dishes more playful.

    Unfortunately, the plastic scrubby side of the Sponge Daddy and the Scrub Daddy suffer from one flaw: if you scrub seriously stuck-on food off big pots frequently (say, multiple times a day, or potentially even every day), reviewers complain that the plastic bits start to break off. This shortens the life of the sponge and potentially adds more microplastics to the water system. If you’re in that boat, either downgrade to the $ pick and replace them more often, or stick around for the $$$ pick, which holds up through months of regular scouring.

    If you’re looking for an eco-friendly sponge, don’t even try to ask Daddy. Its website says the sponge is a “highly engineered cellulose” and the scrubbers are a “highly engineered polymer foam.” Between that and a close inspection of the sponge, it’s easy to see: yep, these seem to be made of two types of plastic foam, which likely come from crude oil. And even though it’s plastic, it’s *not* recyclable (probably because it’s foam).

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    Really, there’s not a high-performing eco-friendly sponge out there, at least not one that we found. Twist is perhaps the most well-known biodegradable sponge. Made from hemp, agave, and cotton, it meets the requirements of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) for Biodegradable Plastics — meaning it and its plastic packaging should compost in “municipal and industrial composting facilities.” While we only tested the scrub sponge out of their line, we found it gross that the bright-white rectangle held onto the stains of almost every food it came into contact with. We also didn’t find the scrub side to be even close to as effective as others we tested.  

    Full Circle’s Walnut Scrubber sponge, another eco choice, was uncomfortable to use because the scrubber itself felt too stiff for the sponge. It also stained quickly, and while its website says that the sponges will “completely break down when thrown away,” it doesn’t list a particular certification to back that up (they are a certified B Corp, though). Also not certified, at least not by ASTM or similar: Trader Joe’s Pop-Up Sponges, which also are made from natural vegetable cellulose. We did like the TJ’s sponge better, because its mellow yellow color doesn’t show stains like the bright-white Twist or Full Circle, it seems to hold soap longer, and it’s very comfortable to use. Its downfall: it lacks a scrubby side, an essential for most people washing dishes daily.

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    But if you’re looking for a sponge that resists stink, helps you use less elbow grease when you need to get down and dirty with a charred pot, lets you use less soap overall, and is just, like, fun to use, we recommend giving the Sponge Daddy a shot!

    Get it from Amazon for $15 (12-pack)

    Jetz-Scrubz Scrubber

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    The Jetz-Scrubz Scrubber Sponge is the one sponge to rule them all. Some reviewers report that it lasts at least eight full months, and sometimes longer than that. Like the Sponge Daddy, both the scrub side and the sponge side are made of plastic or a plastic foam instead of cellulose — they hold onto soap longer and take much longer to smell funky. But unlike the Sponge Daddy, its scrubby side doesn’t slowly disintegrate into your sink (at least not for a good long while). It stays firmly attached to the sponge, ready to tackle whatever dirty dish you throw at it, one stuck-on-tomato-spot at a time.

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    And speaking of tomatoes: because the Jetz-Scrubz Scrubber Sponge is a fashionable black, nothing stains it. It doesn’t turn purple when you wash out your beet salad bowl, and it’ll still look brand new no matter how many charred surfaces you tackle. To keep the mildew smell at bay, you still have to rinse off any food particles and squeeze it out well so it can dry between uses, but if you get a little lazy about it once or twice, you can still reach for it without contaminating your hands with gross sponge smell. Then once a week or so, sanitize it by simply tossing it on your dishwasher’s top rack with the heat-dry setting. You also could probably launder it without fabric softener, if you don’t have a dishwasher.

    Jetz-Scrubz argues that it’s eco-friendly because it can last so freaking long that you’ll cut down your landfill contribution at least somewhat. Not needing to toss a cellulose sponge every other week means there’s not nearly so many sponges in the trash, which makes sense. That said, it is made from a foam and plastic-like material, which we suspect is made from crude oil products — a non-renewable resource — as opposed to typical cellulose, which is made from fibrous trees and plants. On top of that, of course it’s not recyclable, and when/if it does start to disintegrate, it would be sending plastic down the drain.

    For an ultimate pairing that could prolong the life of your Jetz-Scrubz Scrubber Sponge even longer, we suggest also picking up a pack of Trader Joe’s Pop-Up Sponges, which at the moment are $7.99 for 12 in stores (that’s $0.67/sponge). All of our testers enjoyed using the TJ’s sponges the most, hands down: they hold soap longer, like the Sponge Daddy, but feel incredibly comfortable to use. Plus, even though they’re not officially certified as biodegradable, the hearsay on the internet is you can compost them at home. The TJ’s lack of a scrubby side was ultimately a deal-breaker, because you can’t use it alone — but combine that comfort with the Jetz’s scrub powers, and you have a duo that could win the sponge Super Bowl.

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    Some reviewers find that the rectangular Jetz-Scrubz Scrubber Sponge is a bit too big to comfortably hold, so if you’re in that boat, they make the exact same scrubber in a small round shape that’s equally well-reviewed. And if you’re not convinced yet, see what the enthusiastic reviewers of Amazon have to say below.

    Get it from Amazon for $15 (3-Pack)

    Side note: when we first started looking at which sponges we wanted to make the cut, we decided dishwands might be the miracle upgrade we were looking for. They look like they make things just so easy, right? Just push a button and scrub your heart out. Except all our testers have to say is GTFO! They’re incredibly difficult to completely squeeze out, so they get smelly far too quickly, they offer only a single scrubbing surface (versus a scrub and a sponge side), and a couple of the ones we tested actually sent dirty dish water back into the handle’s soap reservoir as we washed. Ew.