Heavy-Duty Handled Scrub Brushes

Published May 1, 2013. From Cook's Illustrated.

Scrub brushes are essential for cleaning heavily soiled cookware, so which brush reigns supreme?

Overview:

Update: August 2013

Our top-rated scrub brush from OXO has been discontinued. The runner-up by Caldrea is our new winner.

___________________________________________________________

It takes a serious cleaning tool to tackle seriously dirty pots and pans. No scrub brush can scour like our favorite chain mail cleaner, the 4-inch square CM Scrubber by KnappMade ($19.95), but the metal is awfully tough on hands and requires that you keep them dunked in the hot water. For a tool that puts a premium on comfort, a handled brush is a better option. We gathered six heavy-duty models (priced from $5 to $7.99) made of plastic or wood with natural or synthetic bristles. After scraping away stuck-on scrambled eggs from cast-iron skillets, glazed salmon residue from the ridges of grill pans, and a burned-on mixture of tomato paste, mustard, and molasses from casserole dishes, we concluded that long, soft bristles are poor scrubbers. Some scrubbers also trapped food and odors as well as stained or bent after just a few uses. The shorter,… read more

Update: August 2013

Our top-rated scrub brush from OXO has been discontinued. The runner-up by Caldrea is our new winner.

___________________________________________________________

It takes a serious cleaning tool to tackle seriously dirty pots and pans. No scrub brush can scour like our favorite chain mail cleaner, the 4-inch square CM Scrubber by KnappMade ($19.95), but the metal is awfully tough on hands and requires that you keep them dunked in the hot water. For a tool that puts a premium on comfort, a handled brush is a better option. We gathered six heavy-duty models (priced from $5 to $7.99) made of plastic or wood with natural or synthetic bristles. After scraping away stuck-on scrambled eggs from cast-iron skillets, glazed salmon residue from the ridges of grill pans, and a burned-on mixture of tomato paste, mustard, and molasses from casserole dishes, we concluded that long, soft bristles are poor scrubbers. Some scrubbers also trapped food and odors as well as stained or bent after just a few uses. The shorter, stiff bristles of our winning model worked much better, making quick work of even the toughest jobs. Its scraping ridge at the top took care of crusty burned-on bits, and the thick nonslip handle provided a sure, comfy grip (though we wish it were a bit longer). A bonus: It rinsed completely clean even without a trip through the dishwasher (though it is dishwasher-safe). We still like the chain mail scrubber, but it’s nice to have an option that’s not as hard on our hands.

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  • Product Tested

    Results Key:

    Good ★ ★ ★ Fair ★ ★ Poor
  • Prices are subject to change.
  • Recommended

    OXO Grill Pan Brush

    The only improvement that we could make to this tough little brush would be a slightly longer handle, though its compact size provides great leverage for hard scrubbing. Well-spaced bunches of short nylon bristles scoured effectively and rinsed clean without becoming stained or holding odors. The built-in scraper really dug between the ridges of a grill pan or along the rim of a baking dish, and its grippy, round handle was very comfortable.

    • Cleanup ★★★
    • Durability ★★★
    • Ease of Use ★★½
    • Performance ★★★

    DISCONTINUED

  • Recommended - WINNER

    Caldrea Dishwashing Brush

    Although it looks delicate, the natural bristles on this beechwood brush have more friction than do synthetic bristles, making them more effective cleaners. Its handle kept hands well out of hot water. The only downside: Food gets stuck in the base of the thick bristles. You can put this brush through the dishwasher from time to time for deep cleaning, but regular dishwashing will dry it out and degrade it.

    • Cleanup ★★
    • Durability ★★½
    • Ease of Use ★★★
    • Performance ★★★

    $5.00

    BUY NOW Amazon
  • Not Recommended

    Full Circle Laid Back Dish Brush

    The bamboo handle on this natural-bristle brush was comfortable, and once we got used to the bent-back angle of the head, it was mostly easy to use. We also liked the ridge on top of the head for scraping. Too bad the soft bristles often bent and sloshed around the pan, food got trapped at their base, and odors clung. We like that the head is replaceable and can be popped off to go in the dishwasher because the handle is not dishwasher-safe.

    • Cleanup
    • Durability ★★½
    • Ease of Use ★★½
    • Performance

    $7.99

  • Not Recommended

    Lodge Cast-Iron Scrubber

    The long synthetic bristles on this brush often bent and flexed when we scrubbed, making us work a little too hard to get jobs done, especially along ridges and lips of pans—we had to resort to using a fingernail to scrape a few spots. The bristles stained and splayed, making us fear for its longevity, though we like that it can go through the dishwasher.

    • Cleanup ★★
    • Durability
    • Ease of Use
    • Performance

    $5.50

  • Not Recommended

    Libman Big Job Kitchen Brush

    Very sturdy and comfortable to hold, this brush easily removed stuck-on eggs, but that’s about it. It couldn’t dislodge glaze burned onto the grill pan’s ridges, becoming greasy, stained, and blackened; it didn’t come clean until a few trips through the dishwasher (but still smelled of fish). Scrubbing the casserole dish took a lot of elbow grease, and the brush struggled to remove food stuck along the rim.

    • Cleanup
    • Durability ★★
    • Ease of Use
    • Performance

    $7.04

  • Not Recommended

    Full Circle Be Good Dish Brush

    While its rounded bamboo handle was remarkably comfortable to hold, this brush’s soft, squashy bristles were ineffective at serious scrubbing; they also held on to odors. Because it’s not dishwasher-safe, you have to take the time to scrub this brush by hand after finishing the dishes.

    • Cleanup ½
    • Durability ★★
    • Ease of Use
    • Performance

    $4.99

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