The Best Sponge of 2020
Although the Scrub Daddy Colors - FlexTexture look like a gimmicky, as-sold-on-TV special — indeed, the company did get its start on Shark Tank — don't let it fool you. This product is a serious cleaning machine. By far the most absorptive sponge in our review, the Scrub Daddy continued to impress us with its fun and functional design. The FlexTexture material works precisely as it's supposed to: a tough scrubber under cold water, and flexible enough under warm water to reach those annoying corners. It has an ability to cleanse itself of grime quickly, and for its thickness, dries out incredibly quickly — for the most absorptive product in this review, it also clocked the fastest dry time.
Water flows easily through this polymer model, so it doesn't hold onto suds as readily as some of the other models. While it still impressed us with its scrubbing ability, without a dedicated scrubber, it wasn't the strongest scrubber of the bunch. The Scrub Daddy often comes in a pack of three, so color-code each with a job and use freely for any type of household cleaning. After cleaning countless pots, pans, Tupperware, glasses, stovetops, and more, this model became our favorite to use.
The O-Cedar Multi-Use Scrunge has the classic design of your everyday kitchen scrubber, with some pretty significant improvements. The 3-D design sports a matrix that is really tight compared to similar competitors — as a result, it does a really great job of not accumulating food bits. Additionally, the scrubber does not break down and pill like many of its direct competitors in our tests. For its durability and scrubbing strength, we couldn't find a better value. Often sold in packs of six or more, the price per product is low for what you get.
This product is thick for a cellulose model, but it is not as absorptive as we had hoped. Similarly, it runs through soap faster than a few others we tested. The biggest flaw, however, is that this one is nowhere near odor-resistant — we began to notice a very particular stench within the first few washes. This stink factor was pretty common among similar models, though. It is safe to clean in a dishwasher, though, and with its durable design and structure, this simple model can handle weeks of washing and makes one of the smallest dents in your wallet.
The Scrub-It Non-Scratch Microfiber model is unlike any other in our review, thanks to an outer wrap that is a tough, polyamide scrubber on one side, and a soft, polyester microfiber cloth on the other. This elegant combination makes this product the most versatile in our review — capable of tackling burnt pans, and later polishing sunglasses. Most impressive is the fact that it's launderable, safe for both the washer and dryer, as well as the dishwasher. We love it for its sustainability alone.
It is a good thing that this model can easily be washed and dried because, unfortunately, its soft texture tends to accumulate grime quickly. The scrubbing side is initially tough, but we noticed over the course of our testing period that it eventually wears flat. But as such a versatile option that can be washed easily, the microfiber Scrub-It might fits your needs precisely.
A durable, foam sponge is not easy to come by, but the Jetz-Scrubz does a great job of filling that void. While it may not be the most absorptive model we tested, it by far holds onto the most suds. The all-black design is almost guaranteed to not stain or discolor, making it perfect for cleaning surfaces all around the house. For a foam option, this model was surprisingly resistant to stench and grime, only adding to the longevity of this already durable product.
The scrubber matrix impressed us with its ability to dodge food bits but was not quite as strong when it came to scrubbing power as we had hoped. While it is moderately absorptive and big, we wouldn't call on this rather large model for any significant spills. Although pricey, we believe that the Jetz-Scrubz has the ability to save you dollars in soap costs in the long-run, especially if you handwash most of your dishes.
The Scotch-Brite Non-Scratch sets the standard as a classic of the kitchen. Nearly twice as absorptive as other similar, cellulose-based options, we value the workhorse attitude of this product when it comes to almost every type of kitchen cleaning. In particular, this scrubber out-performed every other competitor in this review when it came to sheer scrubbing power.
While it's nice to know that the scrubbing fibers are made from 100% recycled content, this model's scrubbing surface pulled up faster than others we tested. No sponge lasts forever, but this one's lifespan fell a bit short in comparison. The price is appropriate, though, and if you're ok trading durability for scrubbing force, this product is a good choice.
Ironically, the nearly indestructible Lubrima Silicone Dish model is best suited for delicate cleaning purposes. The manufacturer claims that the squishy, silicone scrubber is soft enough to use for make-up removal — for our purposes, we found that it was perfect for cleaning notoriously scratchable surfaces, like stainless steel appliances.
It is important to note that this is a completely non-absorptive model. While the toothbrush-like teeth are able to suds-up much better than other, 100% silicone models in our review, they are not strong enough to tackle any tough scrubbing job. The food-grade silicone is easily cleaned in the dishwasher, and based on our experience, it's possible that the Lubrima could literally last a lifetime of cleaning.
The Mr. Siga Heavy Duty is one of the bulkiest models in our review. Fittingly, it also is one model featured here that is available in a bulk pack — making it notably inexpensive for the price-conscious shopper. Its thick foam specializes in dishwashing, thanks to its ability to hold onto soapsuds. It also proved useful for throw-away uses — like cleaning the corners of the bathroom — due to its strong scrubber and bulk pricing.
However, the Mr. Siga was one of the poorest performers in our absorption test — surprising due to its size. We also noticed serious issues with durability and the fact that it readily absorbed a noticeable, foul odor pretty quickly. But if you are interested in a cheap product for throw-away jobs, this will certainly perform well in that role.
This Polish company promotes the virtues of sustainability by using up-cycled remnant fibers from the toweling industry to produce the Skoy Scrub — each one is unique as a result of their manufacturing process. The cotton cloth is reinforced with a food-grade, non-toxic hardener, turning the originally soft cotton fibers into a thin scouring pad.
This is also a mostly non-absorptive option, and as a result, we found that it was best suited for surface scrubbing. It is important to note that this scouring pad is actually too tough for delicate surfaces like stainless steel. Although it scored rather poorly in both our durability and scrubbing strength tests, we believe that this washable scrubber has the potential for a long life.
The Scotch-Brite Greener Clean incorporated recycled material: the material is 100% plant-based fibers, partly comprised of recycled paper and wood-pulp cellulose. Half of the scrubbing fibers come from the Agave plant, and the packaging is made from entirely recycled content. Much like its blue-counterpart, the Non-Scratch Scrub, this eco-focused product boasts a pretty powerful scrubbing surface.
However, for all of its sustainable-boasting, we can't help but feel like this model is a bit green-washed. In our experience, it is better for a scrubber to last a long time — through lots of scrubbing and multiple washing cycles — than to quickly end up in the trash can. Unfortunately, due to its durability and overall thin build, it is likely that this model is destined for the latter rather than the former.
The Peachy Clean Silicone Scrubber is a very particular model, but we are pretty unsure of what its particular use may be. Produced by a family-owned company out of Georgia, it's not surprising that this product is infused with a peach scent — that may, or may not be a welcomed addition to your kitchen sink. Regardless of your feeling on scented products, this 100% silicone scrubber has the incredible ability to resist odor, mostly thanks to its non-absorptive matrix and antimicrobial odor protection.
Unfortunately, we didn't find this model very useful around the kitchen. It doesn't absorb and retain soap well, by design, and didn't provide much scrubbing strength or convincing durability, either. Our testers feel that there are better options to select for most people's kitchen and household needs.
Why You Should Trust Us
One of our kitchen experts, Aaron Rice, tackled the off-beat challenge of singling out the best models for kitchen dishes and household chores. He is devoted to sharing good food and has worked in and around professional kitchens for the better portion of a decade. Nowadays, he and his wife co-manage an on-site culinary garden for a fine-dining restaurant in Santa Fe, NM. Aaron spends much of his free time cooking and baking at home, and you know what they say: what gets cooked, must be cleaned.
Our testing process is extensive. First, we perform our due diligence of online research, spending hours searching the internet for the most popular and high performing products available. We pride ourselves on objectivity, purchasing these products at retail value so that we can provide you with honest, comprehensive reviews based on direct comparisons of the best models on the market. We draw our conclusions from real-life experience, and back those up with direct and specific tests to scrutinize the pros and cons of each product — and yes, this thorough testing process extends to something as seemingly simple as sponges.
Analysis and Test Results
For most modern-day households, these products are the workhorse of multi-purpose cleaning. From wiping up messes to the chore of daily dishes to cleaning showers, we all find ourselves reaching for one of these competitors whenever we need to scrub, soak up, or wipe down. To determine the best kitchen and household model, we first identified six key characteristics that make these products most useful: absorption (including soap retention), durability, scrubbing strength, versatility, and odor & grime build-up. We then devoted a week to testing them all side-by-side, analyzing each quality, and ranking them according to these metrics.
Before they were imitated and developed in factories for household cleaning, sponges existed for hundreds of millions of years as one of the oldest animals on the planet. The animals are defined by chambers that have the ability to uptake water. The same goes for industrial and commercial synthetic versions.
To test this vital quality, we measured the water volume each option was able to retain after reaching full saturation. The most absorptive model in our review, by far, is the Scrub Daddy, taking up nearly twice the amount of water as its closest competitor, the microfiber Scrub-It. The two thinnest options in our test — the Lubrima Silicone and the Skoy Scrub — are designed as non-absorptive products, as is the Peachy Clean Silicone Scrubber.
While not quite as important for wiping up spills — and perhaps more relatable for those without a dishwasher — the ability for a kitchen model to hold onto soap while washing dishes is an important factor related to absorption: the less soap you have to continuously apply, the longer you can stretch a bottle of dish detergent. It's also more practical and convenient to avoid constantly pumping more soap onto your scrubber. Through handwashing dozens of loads of dishes, we discovered that the true foam competitors perform the best in this metric. The Jetz-Scrubz fills up and holds onto suds better than any other model in our review, hands-down. Not far behind is the very large Mr. SIGA Heavy Duty model, which also impressed in this area.
Our durability analysis is a testament to our efforts to bring you an authoritative review. To back up our cleaning experiences, we put each product through its paces in a laboratory-style durability test. We chose an extra rough surface — in this case, a brick — and performed 500 scrubbing repetitions to reveal issues that may otherwise take weeks to reveal themselves. We also ran all of the models repeatedly through the dishwasher over the course of the testing period and noted any significant breakdowns.
At the top of its class is the Lubrima Silicone Dish model, proving the longevity of food-grade silicone. On the other hand, the silicone matrix of the Peachy Clean scrubber began to wear through almost immediately with any tough scrubbing, proving that durability goes beyond the material used. The FlexTexture foam of the Scrub Daddy also exceeded all expectations, but the scrubber of the Mr. SIGA "heavy duty" model quickly began to separate from the body of the sponge after a few trips through the dishwasher.
All of the competitors in our review can indeed be cleaned and sanitized in the dishwasher, but there are a few notable standouts when it comes to long-term sustainability. Our favorite is the Scrub-it Microfiber, which is the only one that boasts the ability to be washed and dried like any other piece of polyester clothing. Similarly, the Skoy Scrub is made from cotton scraps from the towel industry. While the Skoy Scrub scored poorly in our rather harsh test, we believe that it is likely to last much longer under real-world conditions and that this up-cycled scrubber is a great option for the environmentally-conscious primarily seeking a countertop cleaning tool.
Most kitchen sponges are not just used for their absorptive qualities. Instead, oftentimes we call upon these scrubbers to help us with the terribly sticky bits of food that we accidentally burned to the bottom of a pan. So, how did we assess this metric? We intentionally burned food to the bottom of a pan, and then tested each model side-by-side to prove which one performed best. The go-to classic, the Scotch-Brite Non-Scratch scrubber, proved most effective, with the O-Cedar Multi-Use Scrunge and Mr. SIGA Heavy Duty trailing not far behind. Even without a specific scrubber, the Scrub Daddy proved to be nearly as effective as the top-performers.
While we most often find ourselves reaching for a sponge in the kitchen, most of these also eventually pull double-duty for other household cleaning chores. Some are particularly suited to a soapy sink full of dishes. Others are better suited for softly scrubbing stainless steel appliances, while others are best for countertops or even devoted to bathroom cleaning.
The Scrub-it — one side sporting a durable scrubber, and the other side a soft microfiber cloth — takes two, totally different approaches and brings them together into one utilitarian package. We also really appreciated the two sides of the Jetz-Scrubz, whose soft side lives up to the claim that it "will not scratch even the finest surfaces." Finally, the temperature-controlled FlexTexture foam of the Scrub Daddy works just as it is advertised: it affords firm scrubbing strength in cold water, and soft flexibility under warm water, so you can reach those pesky corners of glasses with ease.
Odor & Grime
A top reason we replace these products, besides lack of durability, is that eventually, they begin to stink. Some models are better than others at dumping the little food bits that gunk up their cleaning surfaces, eventually morphing into a grimy layer that normally coincides with a one-way trip to the garbage can. To try and avoid this fate that always seems to come way too soon, we highly suggest checking out silicone options — the Peachy Clean and Lubrima sponges are made of 100% silicone. While they don't do a good job of holding onto water, this material allows them to dry out quickly and avoid issues with molding. If you wash dishes in a sink filled with warm soapy water, the less-absorptive nature of these models is far less important.
However, we did notice that both of these silicone scrubbers did tend to hold onto gunk more than expected — particularly the Lubrima model (think bristles on a toothbrush.) The two offerings with proprietary foam — the Scrub Daddy and Jetz-Scrubz — did a particularly good job of easily cleaning themselves of small particulates during normal dishwashing. While these models are certainly more expensive, it's factors like this that increase their value over time. On the more classic side, we found that the dimpled texture of the O-Cedar Scrunge scrubber does a really great job of not accumulating food bits, staving off the stink for longer than we expected.
Finding the best product to suit your needs doesn't have to be a trial and error mission. We specifically chose to test only the highest-rated models so that you only have to choose between some of the best on the market. We believe this is the most comprehensive review you will find anywhere and hope that it leads you to the product that matches your needs.
— Aaron Rice