Best Sponges of 2021
Although the Scrub Daddy Colors - FlexTexture looks 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 absorbent model 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 access hard-to-reach corners. It can cleanse itself of grime quickly and dries out incredibly quickly for its thickness. As the most absorbent product in this review, it also clocked the fastest dry time.
Water flows easily through this polymer model, so it won't hold onto suds as readily as some other models. Although 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 worry-free 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 much tighter than similar competitors — as a result, it's really great at not accumulating food bits. Additionally, the scrubber does not break down and pill like many of its rivals 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's not as absorbent 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 particular stench within the first few washes. This smelliness 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 while making one of the smallest dents in your wallet.
The Mr. Siga Heavy Duty is one of the bulkiest models in our review. Fittingly, it is also 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 impressive ability to hold onto soapsuds. It also proved useful for throw-away uses, such as cleaning the corners of the bathroom, due to its strong scrubber and bulk pricing.
The Mr. Siga, however, was one of the poorest performers in our water absorption test, which was especially surprising due to its size. We also noticed issues with durability and the fact that it quickly absorbed a noticeable, foul odor. But if you are interested in a cheap product for throw-away jobs, this can certainly perform well in that role.
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 absorbent model we tested, it holds onto the most suds by far. The all-black design is unlikely to stain, 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 it wasn't quite as strong when it came to scrubbing power. While it is moderately absorbent and big, we wouldn't call on this rather large model for any significant spills. Although pricey, we believe that the Jetz-Scrubz could save you dollars in soap costs in the long-run, especially if you handwash most of your dishes.
The Scrub-It Non-Scratch Microfiber model is unlike any other in our review, thanks to an outer wrap that's 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 or 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 during our testing period that it eventually wears flat. But as such a versatile option that can be washed easily, the microfiber Scrub-It might fit your needs precisely.
The Scotch-Brite Non-Scratch sets the standard as a classic of the kitchen. Nearly twice as absorbent as other similar, cellulose-based options, we appreciated the workhorse attitude of this product when it came 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 pilled 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 okay trading durability for scrubbing force, this product is a good choice.
The Geloo Silicone Dish Sponge is durable. This scrubber is even heat resistant up to 500°F, which allows them to serve as potholders in a pinch. Despite their impressive durability, the bristles are soft and squishy enough to delicately scrub fruits or vegetables clean. The balance of tough and soft makes this a versatile scrubber for any number of household chores. It particularly excels when it comes time to carefully clean surfaces that you do not want to scratch, like a non-stick pan or the hood of your car. When it comes time to clean the scrubber itself, the food-grade silicone will easily stand up to many trips through the dishwasher.
However, we specifically refer to the Geloo as a scrubber, because it almost does not qualify as a sponge. Though the silicone bristles create and hold soapy suds, these pads are otherwise completely non-absorbent. The lack of a scrubbing pad should also indicate that this is not the best model to tackle a particularly tough scrubbing job. While these soft-scrubbers have a difficult time breaking through grease and grime, they work great to clean surfaces like cast iron pans, which benefit from retaining their oily finish.
The Scotch-Brite Greener Clean incorporates recycled material. It's made from 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.
For all of its sustainable-boasting, however, 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, this model is likely destined for the latter rather than the former.
Good thing the Treenewbid Eco is sold in bulk, because each individual scrubber didn't last very long in our tests. This basic foam scrubber easily holds onto soap suds, quickly rinses out after dishes, and is surprisingly soft enough to clean stone countertops without any worry of abrasion. Like the Mr. Siga, it is available in a 24-pack. While this makes it a similarly inexpensive option when considering price-per-sponge, we believe its disposable construction undermines its overall value.
We are always looking out for products with long-term value and try our best to avoid those that promote a throwaway culture. With its lack of durability and disappointing lack of absorptive power, the Treenewbid scrubber is not particularly "eco-" or wallet-friendly. But, sometimes you need a single-use sponge for those grimy chores — like scrubbing the toilet — and in those cases, this cheap scrubber may just fit the bill.
The Peachy Clean Silicone Scrubber is a very peculiar model, but we're unsure of what its particular use might 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 attitude toward scented products, this 100% silicone scrubber has the incredible ability to resist odor, mostly thanks to its non-absorbent matrix and antimicrobial odor protection.
Unfortunately, we didn't find this model very useful around the kitchen. By design, it doesn't absorb and retain soap well, and it didn't provide much scrubbing strength or convincing durability either. Our testers believe there are better options 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 to single 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 mundane as sponges.
Analysis and Test Results
For most modern households, these products are the workhorse of multi-purpose cleaning. From wiping up messes to the chore of daily dishes and on to scrubbing showers, we all find ourselves reaching for one of these squishy tools 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 sponges so 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 mass-produced in factories for household cleaning, sponges existed for millenia in the earth's oceans as one of the longest-living animals. These animals are defined by their numerous chambers that have the ability to uptake water. The same goes for the commercial synthetic versions that seem ubiquitous in modern kitchens.
To test the vital quality of absorption, we measured the water volume each option was able to retain when reaching full saturation. The most absorbent model in our review, by far, is the Scrub Daddy, which took up nearly twice the amount of water as its closest competitor, the microfiber Scrub-It. The two silicone options in our test — the Geloo Silicone and Peachy Clean Silicone Scrubber — are designed as non-absorbent products.
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 reapply, the longer you can stretch a bottle of dish detergent. It's also more convenient and practical to avoid constantly pumping more soap onto your scrubber. Thoroughly 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 assessments, 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 identify any issues that may otherwise take weeks to reveal themselves. We also ran all of the models repeatedly through the dishwasher throughout the testing period and noted any significant wear and tear.
At the top of its class is the Geloo 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 after any tough scrubbing, proving that durability is influenced by more than just 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 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.
Most kitchen sponges are not only used for their absorbent qualities. Instead, we often call upon these scrubbers to help us with the stuck-on bits of food that we accidentally burned to the bottom of a pan. So, how did we assess this metric? We intentionally burned food into the bottom of a pan and then tested each model side-by-side to see 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 usually 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 gently scrubbing stainless steel appliances, while others are best for countertops or even devoted to bathroom cleaning.
The Scrub-it — with one side sporting a durable scrubber, and the other side a soft microfiber cloth — takes two, totally different approaches and brings them together in one utilitarian package. We also really appreciated the two sides of the Jetz-Scrubz, whose soft side lived 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's advertised: it affords firm scrubbing strength in cold water, and soft flexibility under warm water, so you can reach those pesky corners on drinking glasses with ease.
Odor & Grime
A top reason why we replace these products eventually, besides lack of durability, is that 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 too soon), we highly suggest checking out silicone options, such as the Peachy Clean and Geloo. While they don't do a good job holding onto water, this material allows them to dry out quickly and avoid issues with mold. If you wash dishes in a sink filled with warm soapy water, the less-absorbent nature of these models is far less important.
However, we did notice that both of these silicone scrubbers tend to hold onto gunk more than expected — particularly the Geloo 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 at 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 escapade. We specifically chose to test only the highest-rated models so that you only have to guess 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 best matches your needs.
— Aaron Rice