Kitchen Cleaning Basics

Stock your kitchen with the very best cleaning supplies.

Our team’s favorite dish soap and sponge easily lift off cooked-on food and are gentle enough for delicate cookware. Plus, the sponge is superdurable, so I don’t have to replace it as often. Our dish drying rack is spacious enough to accommodate everything I wash by hand (such as glasses and nonstick skillets). And for a quick wipe-down of our kitchen counters, I use our top-rated spray cleaner and paper towels or eco-friendly cloth.

—Carolyn Grillo, Associate Editor, ATK Reviews

This brush aced every category with ease: No stain could withstand its stiff bristles, it rinsed clean with minimal effort thanks to its well-spaced bristle clusters, its silicone-coated handle was comfortable to grip, and its handle curved optimally to give it good leverage for scrubbing. It also had a strip of ultrastiff bristles on the back of its head meant for the toughest messes that beat out every scraper in the lineup. Though its handle was a touch long for some testers, this brush easily outperformed its competition.

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This model was literally the clear winner—its transparent plastic soap chamber with a wide opening made it easy to fill. It was fast, and it neatly released soap with no wisps trailing behind. Finally, we liked that this dispenser was the shortest in our lineup, making it less obtrusive. One complaint: It had “plus” and “minus” buttons that allowed us to adjust the soap amount, but the settings weren’t marked, so we didn’t know which one was selected.

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The Small Ring Scrubber effortlessly removed cooked-on bacon and hamburger from cast iron and lasagna from our 13 by 9-inch baking dish. This scrubber’s larger size allowed it to cover more area efficiently, and we especially appreciated its fine rings, which scoured narrow grill pan grooves with ease. The smaller rings did, however, make this scrubber harder to clean. We don’t recommend using either scrubber on enamelware or stainless steel.

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This product looks like the classic blue sponge we've all used, but its plastic-based scrubbing side has ripples. These ripples added texture, which helped nudge off cooked-on food. This sponge was absorbent and durable, and it looked surprisingly clean at the end of testing. It was also our preferred size: thick enough to hold comfortably but small enough to maneuver in tight spaces.

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Every tester who tried these paper towels came back with a rave review. The sheets were thick, soft, and sturdy, and a single full-size sheet could hold nearly 1/4 cup of water—about twice as much as lower-ranked products. Thanks to their double-ply construction, these sheets looked unscathed after scrubbing—even after 300 passes across a plastic cutting board—and we detected nary a hair of lint, even on glass.

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This D-shaped robot uses a special set of lasers to scan and map the room so it can chart an efficient path through the space. Because of this, the Neato takes one-third as much time as other robots that cleaned more randomly to thoroughly cover a room. It hardly bumps into walls or furniture and easily navigates from room to room without the help of virtual gates or physical barriers. Testers loved watching this robot’s efficient, grid-pattern cleaning and liked that the robot largely steered clear of major obstacles, though it still occasionally got caught on cords or under furniture. Its unique shape allowed it to cozy up to walls and fit perfectly into corners—key spots every other robot missed.

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By far the most hands-off and intelligent mopping robot we tried, this model uses vSLAM, a navigation system that employs an onboard camera and motion sensor to plot an efficient route through a room. When paired with iRobot’s free app, this technology makes maps of your spaces and refines them with each use. After five runs, you can see a map of your home in the app, name different rooms, and mark off areas where you don’t want the mop to clean. The app allows you to instruct the robot to clean specific rooms, set an automatic cleaning schedule, and even coordinate cleaning with an iRobot vacuum for completely hands-off vacuuming and mopping in one go. It’s also compatible with Amazon Echo and Google Home (“Alexa, tell Braava to clean the kitchen”). That said, if you’re not interested in using an app, this mop is still easy to program and operate: three on-board buttons allow you to initiate a spot- or whole-room clean. No matter how you operate the mop (by app or by the on-board buttons), the robot automatically returns to its base for charging when it’s done cleaning (or when it needs a recharge while cleaning larger rooms). However, while this mop was hands-down the easiest and more pleasant to use, it still had a few drawbacks: its cleaning ability is more akin to a Swiffer than a mop, so it’s not great for deep cleaning—even after multiple passes with the robot we still had bits of caked-on smoothie on our kitchen floors. You’re also better off presweeping the floor if there is visible debris, as the robot’s sweeping pad is adept at picking up dust and hair, but can’t pick up larger pieces of food such as cereal grains or garlic peels and instead abandons them in the corners of the room. It also isn’t completely hands-off, as you’ll still have to switch out the mopping pad daily and refill the water tank once or twice a week. Finally, it was larger than some of the other robots we tried and couldn’t reach small or irregularly shaped spaces such as around and behind the sink and toilet in the bathroom. Like most robot cleaners, this mop works best at keeping clean floors clean, but when used regularly, it can prolong the time needed between deep cleans and keep your floors shining with hardly any effort on your part.

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We appreciated the foot pedal on this model, which flips the lid open completely and allows it to close slowly when released, as well as its sleek but spacious frame. But our new favorite does more than just meet all our basic requirements for a trash can; its additional features show impressive attention to detail. Among them: a fingerprint-proof stainless-steel exterior, a lightweight liner that can be slid out completely for cleaning or lifted onto an interior rest for easy bag changes, air vents that prevent air bubbles from forming around the bag, and a small switch that can be easily flipped to keep the lid open for extended tasks. It also remained virtually odor-free after sitting for a weekend with raw onion, tuna fish, and hard-cooked eggs inside. Although Simplehuman manufactures custom “size Q” bags, we found that any standard 13-gallon bag will work.

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This petite rectangular trash can fits neatly into tight corners of kitchens, bathrooms, and office spaces. The step-pedal mechanism that opens the lid is responsive, and its slow-close lid can be kept open when needed. The liner has a small lip that allows it to be propped on the side of the bin for easy access or to be removed entirely for cleaning. Although Simplehuman encourages users to purchase its custom bags (Code R), we found that both small 4-gallon trash bags and disposable grocery bags fit well and stayed in place.   More on this test

Instead of one large plastic insert, this model contains two separate liners for trash and recyclable items, with capacities of roughly 8 and 4.25 gallons. These liners are taller and narrower than other cans with similar capacities, so you must order Simplehuman’s sturdy but somewhat pricey custom-made bags (Codes V and H) instead of purchasing regular trash bags. We also found that bulky items, such as folded-up cardboard boxes and chicken carcasses, were a tight fit, but that’s less of an issue in households that compost or otherwise produce little trash. Its responsive step-pedal lid-opening mechanism, slow-close lid, and fingerprint-proof exterior make for an impressively sleek, streamlined kitchen trash can.

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