This $7 Sponge Basket Means I No Longer Have to Worry About Calling My Plumber

updated Aug 4, 2021
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Kitchen sink strainers are basically the last defense between dirty dishes and a clogged drain. And considering how much more we’re all eating at home these days, the little guys have their work cut out for them.

Here’s the thing, though: When a strainer does its job well, it ends up getting really dirty itself (full of wet, gross food gunk). Picking soggy leftovers out of a strainer is no fun. And what really gets me is that, when you lift your strainer up and out of the sink in order to clean it, stray pieces of food inevitably slip down the drain anyway — the very thing you were using a strainer to avoid! 

In case you can’t tell, I get weirdly frustrated with my sink strainer. 

Credit: Alison Goldman

And that’s why I was so interested when I started coming across social media videos of sponge baskets being used as strainers. Those triangular plastic bins that people use for storing sponges or rinsing produce? Turns out people have figured out that you can also make them stand-in strainers, and thus avoid all of that accidentally-sending-food-down-the-drain hassle. So simultaneously clever and obvious, right?

In a five-star review for one of these that’s available on Amazon for $6.99, one person wrote, “My sink is weird and the things that are supposed to catch food but let water drain never fit my sink so this has been great. I dump everything in it first then it’s super easy to just pick up and toss the remains in the trash.”

Another five-star reviewer wrote that their basket “works better than expected. It’s much easier to clean than my drain filter, so I typically rinse all of the crumbs into this instead of the drain. When not being used as a crumb catcher, it holds my sponges and dish brush. Very convenient for people without a garbage disposal and very little sink space. Yay, no more food down my kitchen drain!”

I should note that, while most people gave the item a four- or five-star review, a few folks gave it a lower rating, complaining that it either didn’t fit in their sink or the suction piece didn’t work. From using it at home, though, I’ve learned that the sink basket works best when you’ve got a sink edge that’s totally flat or all one level.

Credit: Alison Goldman

I did struggle a little to get the basket in place, but it also does balance pretty well (physics!) and seems to get more stable as I scrape food into it. Now, instead of rinsing my dishes and hoping the strainer in the drain does its job, I use a fork or a little dish scraper to push food scraps and crumbs into this catcher. Then, I can rinse the plate and pop it into the dishwasher. This gives me TWO lines of defense to protect my drain, and the basket really is much easier to clean than the sink strainer. Not only does food stay out of the drain (no more calls to the plumber!), but the sink itself also stays cleaner (no errant food scraps or muddy water backing up!). When it’s time to clean the basket, I just tap it against the trash can and put it back in place.

Do you have any tips for keeping food out of your sink’s drain? Tell us in the comments below.