The 15 Best Cleaning Products We Bought in 2021

published Dec 26, 2021
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
A person standing with a cleaning tool belt around their waist
Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

Elbow grease can only take you so far when it comes to getting your hard-working kitchen back into fighting shape after a long day (or week) of meal prep. For that reason, we spent a lot of time this year trying out new products and tools designed to make it easier to clean our kitchens. We came away with a lot of new favorites. These are the best cleaning goodies we’ll be bringing with us into 2022. We suggest you pick up a few for yourself, too.

1. Scrub Daddy Damp Duster

Dusting is no fun — or is it? The ridged edges of this revolutionary duster trap even the tiniest dust bunnies, and the duster is made to last. Just rinse to clean and then squeeze out the water after each use. Another solid winner from Scrub Daddy.

2. Trader Joe’s Pop-Up Sponges

These cute pop-up sponges really appeal to our inner child. They’re about as slim as a napkin when dry, but with a little water, they grow to a normal sponge shape and size. Although they’re made with natural materials and are 100 percent compostable, they’re so durable we successfully used one to clean the inside of a dirty oven. With a 12-pack retailing for less than $10, we’re totally sold!

3. Euroscrubby

These German-made, ultra-durable sponges are patterned with the cutest design we’ve ever seen (seriously, we want it on a sweater). As a bonus, they’re truly eco-friendly and come in a pack of three. We like ‘em best for crusty pots and pans.

4. O-Cedar Multi-Use Scrunge

Listen, we really love sponges. This pick, made by O-Cedar, is the best use-on-anything sponge we’ve tried, thanks to its finely textured scrubber and thick, curved cellulose material. It’s a scrubber. And a sponge. It’s a scrunge, and we love it.

5. Umbra Sponge Caddy

With your sponge collection growing by the minute, you’re going to need a place to store them all. We’re big fans of the Umbra Sponge Caddy, and not *just* because it’s Bill Nye’s favorite. With extra-strong suction cups, it can be affixed to the sink, allowing for water drainage and freeing up counter space. We knew our favorite scientist, aka the Science Guy, wouldn’t steer us wrong.

6. Magic Eraser Sheets

When it comes to that WOW-factor for grubby spaces, we thought nothing could beat the original Magic Eraser. Well, that is, until we tried a new-to-us product by Mr. Clean: Magic Eraser Sheets. They’re thinner and slightly larger than their predecessor, which makes them perfect for cleaning tight spaces.

7. Flitz Metal Polish

This little-known polish gives a whole new meaning to the term “all-purpose.” (It’s even been used to shine and clarify hazy car headlights.) It’s pretty heavy-duty stuff, and it works great on dull and scratched pans and stainless steel sinks.

8. Real Simple All-Purpose Cleaner

We’ve been reading the clever cleaning tricks in Real Simple magazine for years, so we were thrilled to learn they’d teamed up with The Container Store to create all-purpose spray cleaners. These concoctions are gentle and free from caustic chemicals, but hard-working enough to tackle even granite countertops. The best part? The truly lovely floral scents (we can’t get enough of the Sweet Orange & Basil).

Read more: Real Simple Has a New Line of Cleaners — And This Is Now My Favorite All-Purpose Spray

9. Brooklinen Waffle Hand Towel

Who uses bath towels in their kitchens? We do! When they’re from Brooklinen, anyway. These simple, elegant waffle-weave towels are absorbent enough to tackle a full dish rack. Their quick-dry capability is reason enough to buy them, but their good looks also help.

Read more: I’ve Been Using These Bath Towels in My Kitchen for Over a Year — And They Still Look Good as New

10. Casabella WayClean Wide Angle Broom

When it comes to quickly banishing dust bunnies and crumbs on your kitchen floor, there’s nothing better than a broom. But not all brooms are created equal — and that’s why we’re mooning over this one from Casabella. The angled edge is made for corners and crevices, but the real star here is the textured bristles, which were designed to capture every last breadcrumb.

Read more: I Tried the $15 Broom That Wirecutter Loves — And, Honestly, This Is the Broom Everyone Needs

11. O-Cedar EasyWring Mop

Traditional mops are a pretty inefficient way to clean your kitchen floor; after all, you’re just spreading dirty water back over the surface. But the EasyRing Spin Mop from O-Cedar solves that pesky little problem. The mop caddy has two reservoirs: one for clean water, and a spinning basket on the other side, which wrings out and captures the gunk. P.S.: It’s TikTok famous

Read more: I Tried the Smart New Mop System That Keeps the Clean and Dirty Water *Totally* Separate

12. Shadazzle All-Purpose Cleaner and Polish

This paste cleans and polishes, making it perfect for any shiny surface in your kitchen (and beyond). In our tests, it even got a stainless steel garbage can gleaming. For a generously sized $10 container, who can ask for more? It even comes with its own sponge. Swoon.  

Read more: I Tried the Super-Popular Paste That’s Supposed to Clean and Polish Stainless Steel (and Other Surfaces)

13. The Pink Stuff

You can’t poke around Cleaning TikTok without encountering this megawatt star product, and for good reason: The Pink Stuff can even spiff up seriously stained sheet pans. You do have to take care not to scrub too hard because it contains naturally abrasive material (quartz), but we’re betting you won’t even need that extra elbow grease. This stuff works.

Read more: I Used the British Cleaning Paste That’s All Over TikTok to Clean an Impossibly Dirty Baking Sheet

14. Amazon Basics Microfiber Cleaning Cloths

Microfiber does not get nearly enough love. If you haven’t tried a microfiber towel in your kitchen, you’re going to want to pick up a set of AmazonBasics’ version ASAP. They’re designed to pick up and hold onto dust and lint, so you won’t deposit back on the surface if you go in for a second swipe. They’re also excellent at polishing glassware without a streak in sight.

Read more: I Tried Dozens of Different Kitchen Towels — And These Are the Ones Every Home Cook Needs

15. Le Creuset Cast Iron Cleaner

Enameled cast iron is a lot less fussy to clean than bare cast iron. But still, our beloved Dutch ovens can build up an unattractive patina over time. Enter: Le Creuset’s specialty cleaner for enameled cast iron. This bottle is formulated specifically for enameled products, and it’s safe to use on all brands. A little bit goes a long way, so we’re betting a bottle will last years.

Read more: I Tried the Official French Cleaning Solution from Le Creuset and Was Seriously Impressed

Did you find and fall in love with a new cleaning product this year? Tell us all about it in the comments below.