Various sponges on countertop.
Credit: Sarah Crowley

I Tried Dozens of Kitchen Sponges — This Is the One I’ll Buy on Repeat from Now On

updated Jul 1, 2021
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I grew up in a non-sponge household. We used washcloths to clean our dishes, and those cheap, plastic, net scrubbies for the tough jobs (even though they didn’t really work). But as soon as I moved out, I completely converted to Team Sponge — specifically the dual-action kind with a scrubby part on one side. No longer did I have to put up with a cold, wet, dripping cloth (that became smelly within days) hanging over my kitchen faucet. Never again did I have to struggle with an ineffective scrubby getting bits of food stuck in its mesh. With my sponge and scrubby in one, cleanup got a lot easier.

Of course, sponges get stinky and can wear out pretty quickly. They’re not perfect, but I recently set out to find the best one. Was there one sponge that would last longer and not get a funky smell so soon? I rounded up all the different kinds I could find and put them to the test.

Credit: Alexis Buryk

How I Chose the Sponges 

I scoured local stores and the internet to find a lineup of unique contenders — not just the same kind of sponge under different labels. I shopped for cellulose sponges with no scrubby side, a wackier option that looked like sandpaper spaghetti, eco-friendly options, and more. I gathered them all for a shot at the Best Sponge title.

How I Tested the Sponges 

For my first test, I gave them each a trial run for three days, one by one. I washed everything by hand and skipped the dishwasher so I could really give them a good workout. I was looking for sponges that could hold a lot of sudsy liquid, felt good in my hands, and could easily bend around corners and fit into tight glasses. In other words, it couldn’t be too thick or too stiff! Right away, I eliminated the ones that were too unwieldy to wrap around flatware or fit into glasses.

For those with scrubbing power, I wanted the sponge to cut through grime — without a lot of effort. The gunk needed to rinse out easily and not get trapped in the fibers. 

At the end of the initial testing, I evaluated each sponge to see how well it held up. Was it falling apart? Was it grossly discolored? Was the scrubby part caked with grime and unable to do its job? And, most of all, did it stink? Some definitely looked worn out after just a few cleaning sessions, with the scrubby part peeling away from the cellulose sponge, the sponge getting torn, or the scrubby part looking frayed and pilled. 

I narrowed the playing field to those that were maneuverable and nice to use and looked like they were holding up well. Those that were too stiff, annoying, or ineffective were cut. 

I then put the finalists to a head-to-head test, washing the same types of tough-to-clean items to see which one would be victorious. Each one had to face a series of challenges: clean sticky bread dough off of a bowl, fight stuck-on scrambled eggs off a stainless-steel skillet, and scrub off stuck-on rice out of an enameled cast iron pot. I evaluated them on how easily and efficiently they cleaned the stuck-on stuff, and how easily the gunk rinsed out or if it got stuck in the fibers. And then, finally, a winner emerged!

Credit: Danielle Centoni

The Best Kitchen Sponge: O-Cedar Multi-Use Scrunge 

For a very long-lasting and super-efficient sponge, the “scrunge” is almost too good to be true. At first glance, the scrubby part looks like it might be ineffective because it’s finely textured. But it is incredibly effective at quickly dislodging stuck-on food — plus, the food doesn’t get trapped! It rinses right out. I also like its egg-crate texture, which seems to help lift up gunk, and gives my fingers more grip when I’m washing with the sponge side. It’s made of non-scratch material, so it’s safe for all surfaces — even nonstick pans and the chrome on my stove. The pointy corners are great for getting into small crevices. And even though the sponge is thick, it’s maneuverable and foldable. How’s that for a best sponge?

After using it for a nearly a week, and then in the head-to-head tests where it emerged the clear victor, I continued using the sponge regularly — and it survived! As of this writing, I’m still using the same sponge! And it’s been more than two weeks now. The scrubby part never gets clogged with gunk no matter what I clean. I even used it to clean my stovetop and toaster oven, and degrease my kitchen cabinets. At first it became blackened with sooty burnt stuff and grease, but it all rinsed away with dish soap. And it still doesn’t smell funky. The manufacturer recommends replacing it after 30 to 60 days, which is way longer than the usual recommended week or so. I’m not sure I’ll go quite that long, but I’m definitely willing to keep them around for longer than usual!

But in all fairness, there’s one thing I don’t like: I’m not sure if it’s entirely biodegradable. The company says it’s made of “dense cellulose.” That should be biodegradable, but I’m not sure if that’s just the sponge and not the scrubby part. Most of these types of two-sided sponges, even the eco-friendly kind, require peeling off the scrubby layer and throwing it away before composting the cellulose sponge. I think this is true for the Scrunge, too. At least it’s so durable that I won’t have to replace it too often!

Have you tried the Scrunge? Do you have a favorite sponge? Tell us in the comments below.