Kitchn Love Letters

These Japanese Vegetable Brushes Can Tackle Burnt-on Messes, Erase Scratches on Plates, and More

published Mar 28, 2022
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Everyone needs a friend they can talk to about dish cloths and garlic presses. For me, that friend happens to be Heather and she’s the best (hi, Heather!). We live across the country from each other, but we’re two of a kind. We’re always telling each other about the latest cleaning product or cooking gadget we’ve discovered. She recently told me about some dish scrubbers she liked and when I went to order them, I saw they were purple and gold. I lamented, “Why can’t they make dishcloths and sponges minus the bright hues?” (I would just love for my dishwashing tools to blend into my kitchen.) 

A few days later, I found out about Tawashi brushes, which are small Japanese cleaning tools that have been made for centuries from tightly wound, windmill palm fibers. Traditionally used for scrubbing clean the skins of vegetables, I read that Tawashi brushes can also be used to clean dishes. I loved how they looked, so I ordered a set of three. 

When I first saw the brushes, I wondered if the bristles would end up getting flattened like those on many of my other bristled scrub brushes. I was hopeful, though. The bristles seemed tough and the circular shape of the brush, measuring 3.5 inches long, was surprisingly comfortable in my hand. 

As my “luck” would have it, I happened to have a casserole dish caked with a baked-on mess that would require a significant amount of rigorous scrubbing with a regular sponge. I put a few drops of dish soap on my Tawashi brush and got to work. 

Credit: Shifrah Combiths
The Tawashi brush is great for burned-on messes.

I was astounded at how well the brush chipped away at the stubborn mess in my casserole dish. With minimal and gentle scrubbing, the pan was sparkling! I was amazed. Oh, and best of all, the bristles didn’t flatten at all. (And they still haven’t, dozens of uses later.)

Credit: Shifrah Combiths
It's amazing at knife marks, too!

Next, I decided to try the brush for another project. My white plates from IKEA get terrible silverware scratches on them. They can be removed with Bar Keepers Friend and a good deal of elbow grease, but I wondered if the Tawashi brush would make the process even easier.

I sprinkled Bar Keepers Friend on the scratches, wet my brush, and with some light scrubbing, my plates were white again. The difference and the ease with which it happened was jaw-dropping. 

Credit: Shifrah Combiths
Wow! The after is on the left! The one on the right is full of knife scratches.

I’m ready to ditch my sponges for good. Not only do the Tawashi brushes work super well, but they also rinse out nicely, and they dry incredibly fast (you can even hang them up with the included brass-plated hook!). I love that they last way longer than sponges — for at least five months. And, of course, they’re very easy on the eyes. You can bet I’m telling Heather all about these.

Have you found a special brush you use to clean? Tell us all about it in the comments below.