Dishes to Laundry: Cleaning Supplies Our Team Counts On

March 23, 2017

Inquiring minds wanted to know: What products and supplies get the Food52 Team jazzed about cleaning? (Full disclosure: No minds actually inquired, but we’re going to tell you anyway.)

I polled the Food52 team and these are their A-Team picks for cleaning tools, general cleaners, and laundry—a mix of tools from our Shop and solutions you can pick up on the way home tonight.

Photo by Mark Weinberg

cleaning tools

  • First thing's first: a broom that really gets the job done. We're quite partial to Andrée Jardin's vintage-inspired brooms. The extra wide head gets our floors speck-free in just a couple swipes and we're gaga for the pastel handles. So good looking we don't even need a broom closet! Equally as adorable: their miniature crumber and dustpan sets! They're perfect when you just need a little sweeping action—on your counters, in corners, or on a desktop.
Vintage Hand Broom
Roomba Vacuuming Robot
  • The Roomba! Our Director of Business Development Amber Heffernan has named her robot-cum-vacuum, and thanks Roomba daily for all the work on her behalf.
  • Brushes of all shapes and sizes for every nook and cranny. A hand brush with soft but sturdy bristles can go behind the toilet, just under the front of the oven, behind the dresser, and in every tight squeeze of a space. All the better when they're vintage and adorable. A clever ceiling fan brush with an extra long handle slips right around the blades so you're not teeter-tottering on a ladder with a roll of paper towels. And who knew a radiator brush could be so handy? The long bristled wand is like a magic spell for those dust clots you've never managed to reach.
  • You’ve seen the commercials—that one where they deliver a Swiffer Wet Jet to the elderly couple that has a hard time cleaning their floors? It’s too strenuous for Lee to use a regular mop! Morty doesn’t even clean! “I make dirt,” he says. And here comes the Wet Jet to save their kitchen floors and their marriage! I cry every time. The Wet Jet's admirers say it's an easy way to give floors a quick shine in between deep cleans (sorry, Lee, sometimes you gotta use a mop and a bucket). You can also slip on the dry cloths for a swipe of the floors to pick up dirt and dust BEFORE you Wet Jet.

  • A good spray bottle is the key to DIY-ing cleaners of your own because there are plenty of ways to clean without having to visit the store (and are environmentally conscious, to boot). Amanda Hesser combines a drop of dish soap, a splash of vinegar, and water to clean floors, walls, and other surfaces.

General cleaners

  • We really, really love Bar Keepers Friend. It removes rust, polishes copper and brass, and gets after those hard water stains on your porcelain fixtures. It can be used for scrubbing and shining and polishing all manner of non-porous surfaces, really—even walls.

Note: I first heard of BKF in college. I’d just moved into my first real apartment with four other girls and our mothers were appalled at the state our shabby digs. The Texan mother of the bunch introduced us to the miracle powder: Mix it with water, scrub on the walls, and just like that, the dingy spot was as white as if you’d just painted it. (Of course she knew about this. Texan moms know everything, know how to do everything, and then actually do everything.)

Bar Keepers Friend Cleanser & Polish
Mr. Clean Magic Eraser
  • The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser camp is strong. And—did you know?—they're are actually meant to clean walls. There are plenty of generic brands and you can make one Magic Eraser last a really long time. Just add water and they’ll remove nearly every stain imaginable (I have used these on our office's white lacquered desk tables to address Sharpie situations with great success).
Mrs. Meyer's Multi-Surface Every Cleaner in Basil
Sal Suds Biodegradable Cleaner
  • Welcome to New York City, where your apartment comes with a layer of grime! Our Senior Account Executive Leandra Levine uses Clorox Scrub Singles to combat this inevitability: “Literally the only thing that gets the deep black funk out of my gruesome pre-war tenement building shower. The way they burn your fingers means they're working!”
  • For something that smells good and doesn’t give you a headache, I heard several shouts outs to Mrs. Meyers Multi-Surface Spray in Basil. It’s like a cleaner and a candle in one!
  • Sal Suds from Dr. Bronner's is a favorite dish soap—even though the original Dr. Bronner's claims an infinite number of uses (has anyone actually tried this as shampoo?), our Creative Director Kristen Miglore says Sal Suds works better. It's natural but has the grease cutting-power of something harsher (or so we tell ourselves).


  • Food52's Controller, Victoria Maynard, throws a Shout Color Catcher Sheet in with her wash, and it sucks up all the loose dye from her deepest pinks and darkest purples. Marvel at the money and time you’ll save now that you don’t have to separate lights from darks! Put them together (we know, crazy).
  • Tide Stain Pens: We don't know what we did before this futuristic product landed on our pharmacy's shelves. My grandma is the best stain-fighter I know, but I don't have the patience to treat, soak, rinse, treat, hand wash, and then machine wash. This is the girl-on-the-go alternative (yes, I have used this on dates—I'm a messy zealous eater).
  • A Food52ers laundry room is never without Dryer Balls! (And as a Shop best-seller, they're loved by you, too.)

One request from a team member plagued with clothing wrinkles: “If someone would please suggest the best affordable clothing iron or steamer I would be ever grateful.” Let us know of any good ones, and your favorite cleaning products, in the comments.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Clatterbuck
  • Toni Harsh
    Toni Harsh
  • barbara
  • Jaye Bee
    Jaye Bee
  • john canepa
    john canepa
Olivia Bloom

Written by: Olivia Bloom

Has a soft spot for string cheese.


Clatterbuck August 10, 2019
Here are some of my favorite cleaning/housekeeping products: 1. For both dry and wet floor cleaning I love my Sh-mop. It has washable terry cloth covers that work great on my vinyl kitchen floor and wood floors. I bought a dozen extra covers and I wash a load of them when they are all dirty. 2. For laundry stains I use the entire line of Carbona stain removers. I wish they sold the oil and grease remover in a gallon size jug. 3. My favorite rags are flour sack cloths. You can buy a dozen of them for about $15.00 and they do everything. They are great for drying just washed salad greens. I wrap up the lettuce after I've washed it in one of them and put them in the refrigerator until it's time to make the salad. Everything is nice a crispy when it's time to serve. 4. My Rowenta iron is the best iron I've every used. It heats up quickly and works out wrinkles with one swipe. Well worth the money.
Toni H. January 2, 2018
Does anybody know how to get the awful synthetic scents of laundry detergents and softeners out of fabrics? I am allergic to this stuff, and have washed my now contaminated clothes time after time after time, with no luck. I will have to throw them out if I can't find a solution. ICK!
Jaye B. January 3, 2018
Baking soda is an odor neutralizer so maybe try washing with only that added to the water. Be careful of what type of fabrics you're concerned with and don't add too much soda as it can be harsh on some fabrics. Maybe test it on bed sheets first.
barbara May 6, 2017
Magic erasers are best used on a matte finish as they remove the gloss from painted surfaces. I love Miracle Cloths, a terrycloth with drag, for cleaning windows. As a girl with too many sensitivities, Seventh Generation is a truly unscented laundry soap.
Jaye B. April 15, 2017
What is the best cleaner to remove burned black specks from aluminum pans? Many products are not recommended for aluminum. So far, I've found Brillo Basics steel wool pads work best, but it still requires a lot of elbow grease to attack the corners and sides of my jelly roll pans. Yeah, maybe I'm being too fussy.
john C. March 29, 2017
I came across a discovery in a Financial Opportunity flyer, a California came up with a solution out of the Gulf oil spill. The booms that control the spill were getting water loged so the came up with a sponge that does not absorb water. It cleans great and has a scrubber back. Not absorbing water means no funky smell after a month or so. They came up with a new name Pura Natural, as it is plant based. Target carries them in NH, but Goggle it and you will find them. I am sick of all the crappy, fall apart sponges that I have to chuck after a month, or just disintegrate, and this seems to be the solution. Next they are working on a soap infused version. Just it on Grommet.
HalfPint March 23, 2017
I love Dawn dish detergent. And it's not only for dishes. This is stuff used to clean water birds after an oil spill. I once recommended it to a friend who could not get hair gel/pomade out of her hair despite 3 successive shampoo washes. A little bit of Dawn and finally no more gunk. She was very grateful.

As for the steamer recommendation, I recently got this for my husband,

So far so good. He likes it. Portable. Not too heavy. Steams every quickly. Doesn't take up a lot of space. $35 at Target.
Westcoasty February 13, 2017
Yes, I admit it, I've actually tried the original Dr. Bronner's liquid soap as shampoo, after my scalp reacted to my regular shampoo. After one use, my hair was squeaky clean, but after two or three uses, it also became dry and flyaway (since there is no Dr. Bronner's conditioner that I know of!). My scalp also became dandruffy for a bit, but I'm not sure if that was from the original allergic reaction or from Dr. Bronner's soap. I still use Dr. Bronner's occasionally to clean residue off my hair, but only for one use, to avoid over-drying my scalp and hair. I do use the bar soap for bathing, in lavender, and adore it.
barbara May 6, 2017
I'm chemically sensitive and am using Earth Science shampoo and conditioner.
My skin is finally happy with Neutragena's Healthy Defense.
Good luck.
Kate February 9, 2017
I love my Shark Press & Refresh steamer! It's small, handheld (portable if you really need it to be), and is so great for the price point!
[email protected] January 11, 2017
The key to a good iron is the weight all other things being equal the heavier the better. Pick an iron that is light enough for you to handle but on the heavier side. The weight will help press out the wrinkles. Here is a good link to selecting an iron