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How to choose the right sponge (and make washing dishes less painful)

How to choose the right sponge (and make washing dishes less painful)















Most of us don't give much thought when we buy to sponges. But the right one will make dishwashing less painful and better yet, using the right sponge can save time and stop damage to your kitchenware.

Below there is a guide to every sponge type and how to choose the right one for your needs.

Common sponge types


These sponges are made from recycled plant fibers. Sources include wood pulp and cotton. They're quite cheap and very absorbent.


Sponges marked as heavy-duty are highly abrasive and are used to remove tough, stuck-on debris from stainless-steel pots and baking pans. Don't use them though to non-stick pans and kitchenware.

This sponge is a simple aquatic animal, to which all artificial sponges owe their name. Its surface is porous and they are very absorbent.


Sponges with this label are safe to use on non-stick pots and pans. They also won't scratch the surfaces of ceramic bakeware.

Other cleaning tools

Plastic scrubbers

These are cleaning tools made of woven plastic fibres. They're typically non-scratch, and won’t damage non-stick and ceramic cookware.

Scouring pads

They are much thinner than a sponge and come in both non-scratch and heavy-duty types. Use them to rub away tough stains and grime from countertops, cookware and bakeware but also in the bathroom.

Steel wool

The big guns of home cleaning, steel wool pads are very abrasive. Use them only on surfaces that can take handle this sort of rubbing, such as stainless-steel pots, pans, and baking sheets.

Select the sponge that is perfect for the job

Plates and dishes

You have a lot of options for hand-washing dirty dishes. If they're fragile or specially shaped, use a handled sponge tool. Otherwise, go with cellulose sponges.

This type of sponges is quite low-cost and can absorb liquid and soap easily. But they're also prone to collecting bits of food over time, which means bacteria and annoying smells, can develop inside them. You need to make sure that they get sanitized once in a while and replaced rehularly.

Pots and pans

Stainless-steel saucepans, baking sheets and other hardy kitchenware attract lots of grime. To get rid of that dirt, use a sponge that's just as tough.

Abrasive sponges are typically rough on one of their sides. Use that surface to remove grit and food debris. They come in both synthetic and cellulose varieties.

Don't scrub your non-stick pots and pans with an abrasive sponge, because you'll likely scratch and damage their coating.

That same is true for ceramic and pot cookware. Abrasive sponges will scratch and damage the enamel. Soak these pans in water first and then wash with a soft cellulose or synthetic sponge.

For stubborn copper stains, you can give your pans a rub with salt plus lemon juice (or vinegar). Then rub with a cloth rag or nonabrasive sponge.


For fragile glassware such as stemware and even water glasses, an abrasive sponge is not a choice. Chose something which is soft and even better non-scratch.

The shape of a glassware sponge is important too. For long, narrow glasses, sponges with thin heads and long handles work best.

Windows and cars

Detail your car like a pro. Grab a microfiber or a natural sponge that's nonabrasive, and absorbs plenty of water and soap.

They won't scratch automobile paint, window glass, or metal. Plus they're great at wicking away oils and grease, to leave behind a squeaky-clean shine.