Crud Busters

In traditional French kitchens, chefs report for duty every morning with a touching ritual—literally. They go around to every person and shake hands, as a sign of respect and camaraderie. Wise chefs make it a point to greet les plongeurs (the dishwashers), usually the least visible but some of the most important members of the kitchen. Their hands are almost always large, male, and sandpaper-rough from days and nights immersed in hot water and cleaning products.

Lucky for us, we don’t have to wash as many dishes as quickly as restaurant pros do. And there are now more tools than ever that aim to make scrubbing easy, delicate on (often manicured) hands, and even a little fun. No, we’re not talking about those soap squirters and sponge pompoms your bachelor friend uses. Those things are bacterial breeding grounds, as it’s nearly impossible to thoroughly dry them between uses.

We’re referring to a whole new generation of specialty hand brushes that make the Power Brush seem almost quaint. And a commercial scouring pad that was a well-kept secret in the restaurant industry—until now.

Sommelier’s Washing Kit
By Brushtech, $19.99

Brushtech makes brushes to clean a bewildering number of things—even hummingbird feeders! Its Sommelier’s Washing Kit is designed to scrub fine glassware without scratching, chipping, or breaking it. Three brushes, each best for a specific kind of glass, are included. An oval brush is for goblets, and a narrower brush is for champagne flutes. There’s even a snaky, flexible decanter brush that fits down slim necks and into wide bases, to get at the toughest bits of dried red wine. The nonabsorbent brushes can simply be washed off and air dried (so they don’t harbor bacteria).

The stiff yet gentle foam bristles scrub terrifically and bend to your wishes with flexible wire cores, but there’s no fear of scratching because the wires are completely encased in soft foam.

Kitchen/Household SonicScrubber
By SonicScrubber, $12.99

SonicScrubbers are essentially inexpensive electric toothbrushes designed for cleaning the house. Like their dental counterparts, they deliver power in tight spaces and come with an arsenal of specialty heads.

The basic kit comes with one medium-size/firmness head. Get the Kitchen/Household Brush Head 4-pack (sold separately for $9.99) to fully appreciate the SonicScrubber. The large, round brush and cone-shaped bristle heads will power through a sink full of baked-on crustiness. The SonicScrubber’s especially great on hard-and-tedious-to-clean muffin tins. Take it over to the stove itself—and while you’re at it, knock out those dried patches in your microwave too.

The SonicScrubber uses four AA batteries, which are included, and it’s fully submersible.

Test your surfaces first, because you may be scrubbing off more than you expected. Just scrub a little in an inconspicuous spot. Also check the spots you’re scrubbing frequently.

Other brush heads, body colors (to differentiate the Bathroom and Pro Detailer models), and a stand with brush caps are available exclusively on the SonicScrubber website.

Scotch-Brite Purple Scour Pad No. 2020
By 3M, $13.25 (case of 24)

If you prefer old-school hand scrubbing, which quite frankly is sometimes the best or only way to go, the Scotch-Brite Purple Scour Pad is the best. But don’t expect to find it in the grocery store. Described as “the next generation of cleaning pads,” it is specifically sold only for restaurant-industry use and isn’t widely available in stores.

Thank goodness for online vendors.

The thin, nonabsorbent web of hard plastic mesh scrubs off the most stubborn foods. Its tough coiled fibers are low-abrasive, said to make 11 times fewer scratches and last 10 times longer than regular household medium-duty pads. The open web design allows food muck to be rinsed out easily. The pad can replace steel wool and can be used wet or dry.

The Purple Scour Pad practically erased baked-on grease and food from pans that had been scoured until arms were sore with standard pads.

Do not use these pads on nonstick or plastic, and do test your surfaces first.