I use rags nowadays. Cut from old, stained, not-fit-to-donate t-shirts. I cut them into various sizes and I have mastered the art of folding them to mimic a sponge. I leave the ribbing on because it provides a more durable scrubbing surface.
I really love stainless steel scrubbies (as recommended by Bea) for cleaning baked-on stains and those greasy/sticky messes that somehow appear on the stovetop and in the oven. So much better than the toxic, tar-containing cleaning sprays that are usually designed for this purpose. Cleaning with one of these was a revelation, kind of like the amazement I felt the first time I tried out microfiber cloths on mirrors and counter surfaces. No additional cleaners needed; just a little water and a light touch on delicate surfaces (like the oven's interior finish). Any brand will do; look for the scrubby that feels least abrasive to the touch. One will last a very, very long time. Just pop it into the dishwasher to clean (won't rust).
I'm noticing that most cleaning sponges seem to be packaged in plastic wrap nowadays. Even the biodegradable sponges by Twist and 3M. Does anyone know of an alternative? I may just end up switching to a cleaning brush or rags instead.
Sandra, obviously i have a lot of questions, too, BUT, my current 2¢:
*Twist has an odd combination of using the cellulose/plastic bags and sometimes just the cardboard wrapper. They are very responsive to emails, though, so you could ask re packaging. I ended up getting some of the Euro sponges (recycled/composted package??) and cut them in quarters. Wasn't used to the full size, they don't dry quickly, and lots of rinsing wastes water. Working OK: use once, soak in a small jar of soap+baking soda+water, wash and sanitize all once a night. A bit Dorky I guess.
Bigger, REAL cleaning jobs I keep falling back on white cotton terry cleaning cloths I have from 5+ years ago. Bought at Target, don't know if they still have or about packaging. Absorbent, foldable (again, Dorky, but jeff campbell talks about how to use every surface of a cloth through folding), easy to hold, and to clean/sanitize.
Along with the little sponges, I keep a stack of the terry cloths in a basket on the counter -more than a little annoying given I have an 8x10 kitchen. Surprisingly, no issues with lint, but that may be a function of the cloths' age. If I did, old diapers or t-shirts are lint free.
Just brainstorming here:
* If you crochet/knit make your own non scratching scrubbie, "sponge" or dish/cleaning cloths; lots of folks selling these on Etsy. My mom used to crochet dish cloths out of cotton string, they were great, but don't allow to stay wet without sanitizing, as they start smelling pretty quickly.
* Possibly could find bulk sponges at Art/Paint/Beauty Supply/Professional Cleaning stores.
Thanks for the info on Twist's packaging. I had tried one of their sponges a while back, when they were still packaged in a cardboard sleeve. To tell you the truth, the sponges worked okay, but I was less than impressed with their durability. It seemed I had to switch to a new sponge every week or so because the old one had frayed and begun to retain water (and smells). A rinse in the dishwater only aggravated the fraying. Maybe I should have done what you did and cut the sponge into smaller pieces, so I could at least get more use out of them. On the flip side, they do compost nicely, even in a home composter.
GTK 'bout composting. Yeah, not that impressed, but soaking and sanitizing seems to at least keep the odors at bay. They ARE showing wear, though. i also gave up on them being "absorbent" unless bone dry. Not sure will buy again, but will face the ?sponge? dilemma at that point. Any thoughts on the Skoy cloths? Same issues?
Probably nothing has the same "power" as a sponge, but right now, like I said, if I'm soaking up a mess, housecleaning, or just really want to clean/scrub something, it's the terry cloth I reach for. I've also been known to use razor blades or a putty knife (<45˚ angle) on a wetted surface to get major gook up. I may be "cheating" a bit, though, because we don't use soaps as much as many of the folks here and we have soft water, so I haven't had to worry about soap scum in the shower or tub. Downside the towels are bulky, and are use once, then wash <sigh> Another tip learned from obsessively reading "how-to-clean" books, is to let your cleaning solution do its job, i.e., let it sit/soak for awhile before wiping/scrubbing.
SS does sound like a good option for the appropriate surface, but
Just wish there was the perfect sponge, scrubbie out there....
My favorites are the pop-up sponges from Williams-Sonoma, which look similar to the Natural Value ones you mentioned. I've been using these sponges for ages, but I was a little reluctant to recommend them because a pack of 12 is wrapped up in a netted plastic bag. (I've also seen other brands of this type of sponge packaged in plastic shrink wrap and a netted bag.) For what it's worth, the sponges last a really long time (on average about 4 months each), are absorbent without attaching to odors or stains, do not shrink and stiffen when dried, and do not fray, even after running them through the dishwasher daily. The sponges also compost nicely in my outdoor compost bin. Just wish they came in better packaging...
I believe Trader Joe's carries compressed sponges very similar to those shown here -- I've been quite happy with them, and it takes a long time to use up one package (about a dozen, if I remember correctly).
I once received a dried loofah gourd (not purchased locally, it was a souvenir from a trip abroad). It works well for mild, non-scratch scrubbing, but lacks the absorbency of a sponge. The little bit I had cut off the gourd ended up lasting for months, dried easily and didn't stain.
I found another great use for the stainless steel scrubbies.
You know that annoying adhesive residue that remains on glass jars once you've tried to remove the label? I experimented around a bit and found that covering the residue with a drop of olive oil, then gently swiping the area with the stainless steel scrub removes even the most stubborn adhesives from glass without the need for soaking or rubbing alcohol or other chemical adhesive removers. This method worked great on my vinegar bottles and for removing the labels that the cheese counter guy like to stick directly on my glass jars. I haven't noticed any scratch marks on the jars yet. Just take caution to apply gentle pressure when scrubbing.
Another scrubby tip I learned from an exterminator: the copper ones deter rodents, when wedged into the tight spaces the rodent(s) might be entering. I now also add a generous helping of cayenne pepper, but the copper scrubbies by themselves work too...
I am knitting a scrubbie with cotton yarn that I have from another project. (I knitted my first cotton dishcloth for my MIL and she loves it!) I'm making the scrubbie a little smaller than the dishcloth.
HaHaHa! I am going to do this!! ;) I've got a little space in the back of my garden and one of my girlfriends at work has the seeds! She has done it before and thought the sponges turned out really cool. Thanks for the tip Wrennerd!! Super Stoked!