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Heavy-Duty Handled Scrub Brushes

Published May 2013
Recently, a representative from OXO informed us that the company decided to continue production of our winning scrub brush, which we previously reported had been discontinued. This product is available and remains our winner.UPDATE: AUGUST 2013
Our top-rated scrub brush from OXO has been discontinued. The runner-up by Caldrea is our new winner.

How we tested

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, 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 roughly $5 to about $8) 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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The Results


Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little.


Schmidt Brothers Downtown Block

This roomy block completely sheathed our entire winning knife set using just one of its two sides—and quite securely, thanks to long, medium-strength magnet bars. Heavy, with a grippy base, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard made this model extra-safe but also made it a little trickier to insert knives and to clean; the wood block itself showed some minor cosmetic scratching during use.


Schmidt Brothers Midtown Block

This smaller version of the Downtown Block secured all our knives nicely, though the blade of the slicing knife stuck out a bit. With a base lined with grippy material, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard afforded extra protection against contact with blades but made it a little harder to insert knives and to clean; the wood itself got a little scratched during use.

Recommended with Reservations

Swissmar Bamboo Magnetic Knife Block

This small, scratch-resistant model had a stable, rubber-lined base and could hold all our knives, though the blade of the 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a bit. But inch-long gaps between its small magnets made coverage uneven and forced us to find the magnetic hot spots in order to secure the knives. Its acrylic guard made it safer to use but harder to insert knives and to clean.

Not Recommended

Messermeister Walnut Magnet Block

This handsome block was done in by its shape—a tippy, top-heavy quarter-circle that wasn’t tall or broad enough to keep the blades of three knives from poking out. It lacked a nonslip base, and its extra-strong magnets made it unnerving to attach or remove our heavy cleaver. Finally, it got a bit scratched after extensive use.


Epicurean Standing Knife Rack 12"

This magnetic block sheathed all our knives completely, though with a bit of crowding. But it was hard to insert each knife without hitting the block’s decorative slats on way down, and because the block was light and narrow, it wobbled when bumped. Worse, we couldn’t take it apart, so splatters that hit the interior were there to stay. Additionally, the outside stained easily, and when we wiped it down, the unit smelled like wet dog.


Kapoosh Rondelle Knife Block

This model stabilized knives with a mass of stiff, spaghetti-like bristles that shed and nicked easily after extensive use, covering our knives with plastic debris. While all our knives fit securely, several of the blades stuck out, making this unit feel less safe overall. Finally, though the bristles could be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher, their nooks and crannies made this block hard to wash by hand.


Kuhn Rikon Vision Knife Block, Clear

This plastic block required us to aim each knife into the folds of an accordion-pleated insert that was removable for easy cleaning but got nicked easily with repeated use. Because we could only insert the knives vertically, longer knife blades stuck out; a cleaver was too wide to fit. The lightest model in our lineup, this block was dangerously top-heavy when loaded with knives.