11 Cleaning Tools You'd Be Delighted to Show Off

Hardworking and good-looking? Entirely possible.

August 29, 2021
Photo by Rocky Luten

I had a friend over the other night for drinks. A few margaritas in, he dropped a handful of cracker crumbs on the floor—and panicked a little (my friends know me well). I sprang into action: not in an argh-you’re-so annoying way, but with a little skip, practically singing out: “This is no problem at all (lalalalalala)”. If he was surprised at my lack of annoyance, he didn’t show it. I grabbed my Iris Hantverk crumb brush and pan—at the ready at all times—and got to work.

My floors promptly reinstated, my friend asked to look at the little miracle worker. He proceeded to stare at it for what felt like long seconds, and said, a little emotionally, that it was the sweetest cleaning tool he had ever seen. “OMG YESSS LET ME BUY ONE FOR YOU,” I practically yelled. Two days and one expedited delivery later, he sent me a photo of what is now—his words, not mine—his favorite kitchen “decor item”.

I enjoy keeping a clean home, maybe a little more than the average person, and I have tools, rags, and sprays to avert every household cleaning disaster. Most of them are stacked, by priority, on the shelves of my IKEA rolling cart, which then rolls into my linen closet—out of plain sight. However, lately, I have been finding pleasure in buying myself a few cleaning essentials that I don’t mind leaving around. Given that we are all at home allmost of the time, and there’s constant brushing, and washing, and cleaning happening, it’s just convenient to have your favorite tools handy. It’s even better when they don’t look out of place in your nicely-kept apartment.

Turns out there are plenty of hardworking and good-looking cleaning helpers to choose from. Here are some of my (and the team’s) favorites. Check ‘em out—even if it’s just for the extra cleaning inspiration.

Photo by Iris Hantverk

1. Iris Hantverk Crumb Brush

How could I not start with this one? It's small enough that it’s the perfect countertop de-crumber, but mighty enough (thanks to those sturdy bristles) that I use it everywhere—yes, floors included. It snaps back beautifully into its equally-wee dustpan, and you can leave it lying around for people to notice—for the right reasons.

Photo by Iris Hantverk

2. Iris Hantverk Keyboard Brush

Editorial Lead, Food, Margaret Eby is a person after my own heart, because her favorite cleaning tool is actually made by the very same brand (Iris Hantverk). Bought on a trip to Germany, and treasured dearly ever since, this keyboard brush keeps her laptop safe from pesky bread crumbs and cracker shatters. And she never ever hides it away in the drawer.

Photo by Rocky Luten

3. Bamboozle Bamboo Compost Bin

I’m an impassioned (apartment-scale) composter and have enjoyed using this bamboo compost bin for a few years now. I especially love it for its breathable lid and odor-blocking filter (smelly compost in a 60-sq-ft kitchen would be rather trying). Plus, it looks cute on the countertop—and even cuter when walking it to my community garden on Sundays, aka compost drop-off day.

Photo by Amazon

4. Great Scrape Shovel

This wooden scraper tool is one that Market Editor Jada Wong and her husband gladly show off in the kitchen, and by the grill during the summer. “What starts out looking like a flattened shovel will eventually turn into a customized grill scraper as you run it over the grill grates to clean off food bits. It’s a point of pride to develop deep grooves after a season or two, and it’s always a conversation starter, too,” she says.

Photo by Anthropologie

5. Anthropologie Woven Geo Dishcloths

These dishcloths are so beautifully textured they could well twin with your favorite rugs or pillows. They come in 12-inch squares and are so vivid, you’ll want to keep a couple lying around at all times—because spills and drips usually come unannounced.

Photo by Amazon

6. Scrub Daddy

“I used to really dislike Scrub Daddy,” says Home52’s Assistant Editor, Caroline Mullen. “A kitchen sponge, purporting to be my ‘daddy,’ and smiling in neon green and orange? No—no thank you. But they’re really functional. They’re pliable in hot water, and stiff in cold (for extra scrubbing power), and they never, ever start to smell like regular dish sponges or brushes.” The even better news? They now come in gray and dye-free, so Caroline can happily leave them out by the sink, and not have them clash with the rest of her kitchen color palette.

Photo by Ecovacs

7. ECOVACS Deebot T8 AIVI Robot Vacuum Cleaner

“If I could mount this robot vac-mop hybrid on the wall…actually, no, I need it on the floor to vacuum,” says Jada of her second favorite cleaning tool. “While this little guy looks like any other round robot mop you’ve seen, it’s been the best time-saving investment in my household. I can let it do its thing while I cook, work, watch Ted Lasso, literally anything—it’s quiet, can be controlled via app, and best of all, goes back to its charging station once it’s done.”

Photo by Ty Mecham

8. Zone Soft Touch Toilet Brush

I own this toilet brush and holder in solid black to match my black-and-white bathroom and honestly, it’s been a game-changer (my past has seen plenty of really heinous-looking toilet brushes that I’ve constantly wished away from view). Plus, its sleek design makes me so much more excited to clean the toilet. OK, I’m not sure it’s humanly possible to get excited about cleaning the toilet, but it helps to not hate it, either.

Photo by Amazon

9. Pennsylvania Woodworks Clothes Drying Rack

Honestly, it’s the 1500+ 5-star reviews that made me buy this, even though it was more than what I wanted to spend on a drying rack. We have no outdoor space so our drying rack has to necessarily go in our bedroom (the sunniest windows)—and I was getting really tired of banging into my clumsy metal rack and either hurting myself or having it collapse. I love that the sturdy maplewood frame on this is large enough to hold a lot of clothes, as well as the fact that it isn’t wobbly or unstable when you load it up.

Photo by Amazon

10. Tawashi Vegetable Scrub Brush

Here’s another scrubber we wouldn’t bother hiding away. Use it to scrub the root veggies from your garden, but also call on it for tough stains and grime on your dishes. This $7 cutie is made of durable palm fibers and comes with a teeny metal ring so it can be hung by your sink when the day’s work is done.

Photo by Public Goods

11. Public Goods Surface Cleaner

Do you have a partner who always leaves the surface cleaner out after a bout of tidying up? Just me? OK, in any case, this is one bottle you absolutely won’t mind leaving out permanently—its job is not so much to look pretty but to be very effective and blend seamlessly into the background. I’m a big Public Goods fan and have been shopping for all my cleaning refills from there in an effort to reduce single-use packaging.

What are your favorite cleaning tools? Drop some inspo in the comments below!

This post contains products independently chosen (and loved) by our editors and writers. Food52 earns an affiliate commission on qualifying purchases of the products we link to.
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Arati Menon

Written by: Arati Menon

Arati grew up hanging off the petticoat-tails of three generations of Indian matriarchs who used food to speak their language of love—and she finds herself instinctually following suit. Life has taken her all across the world, but she carries with her a menagerie of inherited home and kitchen objects that serve as her anchor. Formerly at GQ and Architectural Digest, she's now based in Brooklyn.


Harborlou October 4, 2021
Amazon also has a durable clothes drying rack made by Penatline for about $60. It is a mere 17" x 20" that expands to about 30" x 45" and will hold up to 32 lbs. of clothes. When easily collapsed, its 5" width tucks in nicely between my desk and the cabinet next to it for storage.
mm September 5, 2021
The crumb brush is lovely and a good idea; however, I would not use the same tool for tables and countertops that I use on floors.