The Smallest Tool in My Kitchen Tackles the Biggest, Stickiest Messes — Everyone Always Asks About It

published Apr 3, 2023
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Sink full of dirty dishes.
Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

Sometimes the smallest kitchen tools can have the biggest impact. That’s how I feel about Tovolo’s Nylon Pan Scrapers. They take up hardly any space, yet they’re so useful that I always keep a couple of them handy. Well, more than a couple — I have several sets of the pan scrapers, some dating back more than seven years. 

What’s So Great About Tovolo’s Nylon Pan Scrapers?

More days than not, I pluck one of the pan scrapers from its storage place as I’m cooking, cleaning, camping, sailing, or teaching a sourdough making class — there are probably a few more situations in which I’ll reach for them, but you get the idea.

When cooking, I’ll use it to get the last dregs of sauce from a pan, bowl, or Dutch oven. It may seem like you’d want a long-handled tool for this task, but when I need something stiffer than a rubber spatula, these nylon scrapers will likely do the job better than any other utensil in my kitchen. They’re just large enough that I don’t end up with gooey or burnt fingertips and regret the lack of a handle, and they hit a sweet spot between stiff and flexible that lets me cleanly capture the last bits of sauce in one pass. 

Their shape is also ideal, with corners that are slightly more rounded along one edge and a narrower angle on the other. This design makes the scrapers incredibly effective at clearing the sides and corners of both straight-sided and sloped pans when cooking, as well as deep, narrow bowls and shallow, wide ones when cleaning — so basically, all the pots, pans, bowls, plates, and even blates.

Another scraper — one with an adorable ladybug design — lives in my sink’s sponge holder, ready to scrape off food scraps that a soft cloth can’t manage. It gets the most use for this task because it’s just so effective. After frying rice or potatoes and eggs in a cast iron skillet, a few swipes with the scraper gets at most of the stuck-on bits. Adding a little hot water before scraping again loosens the rest. I have a stiff brush for cleaning my cast iron collection, but I rarely use it because the scraper can handle most messes.

Credit: Julie Laing

These nylon scrapers are also my favorite tool for cleaning mixing bowls caked with sourdough starter. Sourdough bread dough tends to be sticky when first mixed, and any dough that isn’t removed quickly enough hardens like cement on anything it touches. These nylon scrapers can clear away sticky starter as well as caked-on dough dregs after I’ve soaked the bowl in hot water. Their rounded corners make full contact where the bowl’s bottom meets its sloping sides far more effectively than any other tool I’ve used, and the just-stiff-enough flexibility gives me full control.

In fact, these scrapers tackle sticky and hardened dough so effectively that I always throw them into my kit when heading off to teach a sourdough workshop. Once we get to the clean-up stage, someone usually asks where they can buy one of these scrapers for their own kitchen and I’m always happy to recommend one of the Tovolo sets I have. I also tuck one into my kitchen gear box when packing for a car-camping or sailing adventure for easy cleanup after outdoor meals.

Over the years, I’ve bought several sets of Tovolo scrapers because there are so many uses for them, and I can’t resist giving them away. My current handful includes ones with whimsical designs ranging from butterflies to flowers to owls. But even though I keep buying new sets, I have yet to simply toss one and replace it. That ladybug-patterned scraper that lives in my sponge holder? It’s from the first set of Tovolo nylon scrapers I bought more than seven years ago.