In the decade since I moved out on my own, I've had a dishwasher for exactly one of those years. For the rest of the time — in other (less fancy) apartments — I've been tackling all dishes, from big to small, by hand. And there are two things I've come to swear by: dish gloves and cute sponges.
The idea of a cute sponge might seem frivolous, but hear me out. I came by this discovery accidentally, when my mother sent me a care package in college that included patterned sponges from O-Cel-O. Once I used them all, my roommates thought it was silly that I started buying them myself — mostly because they were the pricier option at our local grocery store. But after a few years of switching between them and standard sponges, I made a few discoveries that made them my go-to, not just for looks but also for utility.
Here's why I love these sponges so much.
O-Cel-O Light Duty No-Scratch Scrub Sponge, $12 for 12
1. They last longer.
I can't prove this definitively for every sponge on the market, but compared to typical, inexpensive sponges, these last a lot longer before getting gross or falling apart. For that alone, spending a little extra was worth it.
2. They gently remind you when it's time to grab a new one.
While these do last a long time, they don't last forever. And you already know that you shouldn't use sponges too long, anyway. (See: The One Kitchen Thing That Grosses Microbiologists Out.) As it turns out, the pattern on the textured side starts to rub off and that's a good visual reminder for me that it's time to toss it and get a new one. With regular ol' solid-colored sponges, I could go much longer with a much dirtier sponge without really thinking about it.
3. They are easier to dry out.
I am not sure if this is intentional, but O-Cel-O's scrub sponges can also stand up on their own. While there are numerous sponge holders on the market, this has been the easiest (and most clutter-free) way I've found to get the sponge to dry fully between uses. I just stand it up on the side of my sink and it dries on its own. (That means less bacteria and smells incubating in there!) The shape of the scrub sponges also makes it easier for smaller hands to hold.
And finally, I recently discovered that, while these sponges are $2 each at my grocery store, you can get a 12-pack on Amazon for $12, making them a buck a piece. Given that the general recommendation is to replace your sponge every few weeks, that's about a year's supply for just more than the cost of two cold brews. Seems pretty decent to me!