15 Tools for Simple Kitchen Cleanup

With reliable tools, maintaining a clean kitchen won’t feel like such a chore.

For some people, keeping the kitchen tidy and organized comes naturally. For others, not so much. No matter where you fall on the tidiness spectrum, having test kitchen–approved cleaning or organizing tools can help. Our favorite under-appliance duster is a game changer, removing dust and debris from the tight spaces under appliances such as the stove and refrigerator. Our top-rated automatic hand soap dispenser has a responsive motion sensor so that you can wash your hands without dirtying the dispenser. And our winning scrub brush handles the toughest kitchen messes.

—Carolyn Grillo, Associate Editor, ATK Reviews

This dustpan and brush set did a great job of cleaning up all the messes we set before it. Its long brush was generously packed with sturdy plastic bristles, making it easy to cover lots of ground quickly and to scrub little caked-on bits on the floor when needed. The bristles slanted forward at the tip, so we could easily reach into tight spaces for cleaning. And the brush handle was comfortable to hold, even for lengthier cleanup sessions. One small quibble: While the dustpan’s tall walls made it spacious enough to contain plenty of debris, it had a relatively small opening, so we had to aim a little more carefully when sweeping than with other models.

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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 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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With eight long arms and a stable base, this tall wooden rack has the biggest capacity in our lineup and did the best job drying multiple types of items at once. As a drying rack, it was the best overall, though it does not also function as a holder for filling bags. It stayed steady even when we placed an inverted water bottle and an inverted travel mug onto the rack to dry (though it teetered when a heavy item wasn’t balanced by other items). We appreciated that this eco-friendly rack is made of repurposed wood scraps from furniture making.

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This brush had an ideally sized brush head—neither too short nor too long—with bristles that were just under 1 inch long and optimally positioned on both the brush head's sides and tip, allowing us to effectively scrub most containers we tried. The rigid handle had a large, rubber-coated grip that made it comfortable to hold. One tester said this brush was “remarkably easy to rinse” and “seems clean and non-icky,” but it's also dishwasher-safe for even simpler cleaning.

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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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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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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 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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Even after we washed a sink full of greasy pots and pans, the grip on these gloves never faltered. Their slender fingers and tapered wrists fit snugly and comfortably, and the long sleeves—cleverly dammed at the end by a self-folding cuff—let us reach silverware at the bottom of a full sink without dampening our shirtsleeves.

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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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