The humble sponge doesn’t evoke as much excitement as a TikTok famous spin mop or sustainable cleaning products. That’s a shame, because the best dish sponges hold so much power. Instead of having a wet and smelly, bacteria-saturated pariah beside your kitchen sink, you could be the proud owner of a quick-drying scrubber that repels bacteria and is odor-resistant. As a cleaning tool that you reach for multiple times a day, your dish sponge deserves an upgrade. We’ve got a handful we recommend for washing dishes and other kitchen cleaning tasks, but our favorite one—the one we keep in the BA test kitchen—is the long-lasting Skura Style sponge. Read about it and the other sponges we keep in rotation below.
What are the different types of dish sponges?
Soft, porous sea sponges were traditionally used for cleaning (as well as padding and contraception), but today, the most common type of dish sponge is made from cellulose, which is derived from wood pulp. Cellulose sponges are likely what come to mind when you envision a regular ol’ dish sponge—think of the soft, yellow side of a Scotch-Brite. While cellulose sponges are very absorbent and great for doing the dishes and wiping up messes, they’re also difficult to clean, slow to dry, and infamous for collecting bacteria. To combat these issues, some sponge makers have created their own special materials, like Skura Style’s patented polyurethane foam and Scrub Daddy’s FlexTexture (more on both of these later).
Why is the Skura Style sponge the best sponge?
We’ve used many sponges in the BA test kitchen and have yet to find one that holds up to our dishes—our many, many dishes—like the Skura. Unlike cellulose dish sponges, the Skura Style sponge is made of a patented, super-absorbent polyurethane foam that never gets stinky. For real. It’s all thanks to an antimicrobial agent in the foam that staves off gross sponge smells and prevents the growth of odor-causing bacteria, mildew, and mold. The foam is also incredibly quick-drying compared to cellulose sponges, which helps it last longer, too. You’ll notice that this sponge is very firm when dry, but as it gets wet it becomes gentle and pliable enough to clean anything from basic cookware to curvy wine glasses. Since it doesn’t ever get smelly, the “Fade-to-Change” technology lets you know when it’s met the end of its life. Once the little logos on the scouring side begin to fade, swap it out. Just note that the scrubbing side is non-abrasive, so while it’s great for everyday dirty dishes and non-stick cookware, you’ll want to use a scourer with more scrubbing power for tougher cleaning tasks (like removing the greasy build-up and grime that’s accumulated on your sheet pans over the years).
Ok, what sponge should I use when I need more scrubbing power?
For those sheet pans—or when tomato sauce bubbles over and burns onto your Dutch oven’s exterior—we turn to the Scrub Daddy sponge family. The Scrub Daddy is made of “a highly engineered polymer foam” that the company calls FlexTexture. In terms of scrubbing capabilities, FlexTexture is unmatched. Here’s what really sets it apart from traditional sponges: It changes texture based on the temperature of water you use. Under cold water, the sponge stays rigid and firm for tough cleaning tasks, and under warm water it becomes more pliable for lighter cleaning tasks. And the smiley face design isn’t just cute—the “hair” has extra scrubbing power, the mouth is meant for cleaning small, curved utensils like spoons, and the eyes can help you grip the sponge while you clean. Scrub Daddy’s one drawback is that it isn’t absorbent, so it’s not ideal for wiping down the countertops or sopping up spills. For these tasks, turn to the Scrub Mommy scrubber sponge, which is double-sided and has both a tough scrubbing surface and a soft ResoFoam sponge that’s super-absorbent (and generates lather and more suds). These multi-purpose scrub sponges are so heavy duty that BA contributor Alex Beggs once used them to clean three-plus years of grime off her entire kitchen floor. The Scrub Daddy family reigns supreme in functionality, and they’re some of the best kitchen sponges around.
Are there any eco-friendly sponges worth my consideration?
Yes. We love Blueland’s subscription service for their eco-friendly hand soaps, dish soaps, and multi-surface cleaning products (which smell like freshly peeled lemons), but they also offer two plant-based, compostable sponges for cleaning dishes. The Blueland Pop-Up sponge is made of 100% FSC-certified cellulose, which means it comes from responsibly managed forests that provide environmental, social, and economic benefits. It arrives flat and compact for easy storage, then puffs up once it gets wet. The Blueland Scrub Sponge is their double-sided variety, and it features a scrubby side made of all-natural loofah (as in, it comes from the luffa plant) and a spongy side made of the same 100% FSC-certified cellulose.
Bonus: An effective sponge that’s pretty enough to gift
These sparkly neon sponges by Sponge.NYC are so adorable they landed a spot in our holiday gift guide. They’re hand-crocheted from 100% polyester, which makes them nimble enough to squeeze inside delicate glassware and gentle enough to use with non-stick pans. Since these scrub pads are machine-washable and dishwasher-safe, senior commerce editor MacKenzie Chung Fegan has used hers for months, and she swears it never smells. Choose among a variety of colors, like tangerine and pastel rainbow.