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Essential Tools for Cleaning and Organizing

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 you can wash your hands without dirtying the dispenser. Once your home is clean and organized, you want to keep it that way. Kitchen Hacks and Kitchen Smarts contain hundreds of clever tips on food prep, cleaning, organizing, entertaining, and more. With effective, reliable tools and our best hacks, maintaining a clean and organized kitchen won’t feel like a chore.

Our winner had the largest capacity in the lineup, with two 4-ounce containers that could be used together or separately—the latter option allowing us to pack different foods or prep two meals at once. Both containers were more than 2 inches deep, so it was easy to stir in and eat from them without spilling. The airtight lids sometimes required a bit of strength to remove, but we didn't mind because it was the only container that never leaked. This plastic model retained a barely noticeable sardine smell after one wash, but that faded after a second wash. This model is available in a variety of colors.  More on this test

This sturdy flip-top salt box held plenty of salt and provided easy access to it, accommodating most testers’ hands. While somewhat vulnerable to humidity, this box was great at shielding salt from messes. It was a breeze to fill and clean and could be opened with one hand; a small handle made it convenient to lift for on-the-fly seasoning.  More on this test

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.  More on this test

No other container in our lineup had an airtight seal (activated by a pop-up button on the lid). We also liked that the clear plastic (BPA-free) jar showed off our baking. The container was easy to clean, but the lid’s nooks and crannies took more effort, and the lid is not dishwasher-safe. We tested the 4-quart model; the container comes in several sizes and shapes.  More on this test

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.  More on this test

We found that the quality of the lid’s gasket makes the difference between a leakproof container and a potential spill.

With a plastic lid that latched easily and securely and an airtight, leakproof seal that didn't drip or let moisture in, this container is our top choice for glass storage. Its ⅜-inch-wide, soft, square silicone gasket was easy to remove and replace for cleaning, and the faintly fishy odors it retained disappeared after rewashing. The plastic lid showed a slight orange tint after the chili test, but this faded as the container went through more dishwashing cycles. It also resisted warping and emerged intact at the end of testing. The 8-cup container, which looked like a glass loaf pan, held plenty of food, though we'd prefer a slightly flatter, wider shape to help foods heat and chill a bit more uniformly.  More on this test

Our new favorite passed every test and looked good doing it. Its clear, lightweight Tritan plastic material stayed as clear and stain-free as glass, and its audibly snug seal didn't leak, even when we turned the container upside down and shook it hard. It held a generous amount of chili, and its low profile helped foods chill or heat up more evenly than did deeper containers. Microwaving chili was easy and neat, with lid vents that let you leave the container fully sealed while keeping splatters contained and extended rims that stayed cool for easy handling. Its flat top made for secure, compact stacking in the fridge or freezer. One quibble: While we like that the gasket is attached so we don't have to fuss with removing it, you do need to clean carefully under its open side, as some testers detected very slight fishy odors. It's also sold in sets, in varying sizes.  More on this test

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.   More on this test

One of the heaviest models in our lineup, this holder was sturdy, secure, and easy to carry, thanks to a generous loop atop its center pole that does not have to be removed to change rolls. Its angled arm uses spring-loaded tension and tilts to accommodate rolls of all sizes, and it has a long, hinged pad that presses against the roll but still allows it to spin. Even one-handed, testers were able to pull off small and large quantities of sheets neatly and easily.  More on this test

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.  More on this test