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.
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.
This “97% naturally-derived” dish soap cut through caked-on grime quickly and effortlessly. It cleaned burnt-on chicken teriyaki more than two times faster than other soaps that we tested, and testers loved its “clean,” “herbal” lavender scent.
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.
This spray embodies the winning combination of being pleasant to use and cleaning thoroughly and effectively with a minimum number of squirts. It cut grease, lifted stuck-on messes, and left surfaces shining.
Goldilocks would like this towel: It’s not too thick or too thin, too big or too small. Its fabric tightened, toughened, and grew more absorbent the more we used and washed it. Stripes camouflaged stains until they washed out and kept this sturdy towel looking fresh.
A built-in scraper, which could tackle stubborn bits of oatmeal and cooked-on jam that its bristles missed, put this scrubber ahead of competitors. A long handle helped keep our hands dry, especially when washing deeper pots, and a soft rubber button made dispensing soap easy.
This spacious rack held enough cookware, tools, dishes, and utensils for a household of four. It has thoughtful design features, including four utensil holders, four cup holders, and a ledge where you can hang four wine glasses upside down. The swiveling spout efficiently drained off water and can turn 360 degrees, so the dish rack can be used on the right or left side of the sink and oriented the long or short way. Its low profile and rubber feet kept it sturdy on the counter.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.