Dish Washing Gadgets And Soaps That'll Make Your Life Easier

From testers' favorite cleaning tools to soap that does the work for you, these things make dishwashing and dishwashers better.

Washing dishes is the worst. You just have to stand there, hunched over a sink, scrubbing away until your hands are pruney. Or maybe you load the dishwasher only to find your dishes never really seem all that clean. Don’t even get us started on the difficulties of hand-cleaning staples like water bottles or cast iron cookware.

Whatever your particular challenges are, we’ve got some picks below that are beloved by experts, testers and reviewers alike. From high-performing soaps and detergents to specialty tools that’ll save time and space, they make washing dishes much, much less of a nightmare.

HuffPost may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Every item is independently selected. Prices and availability are subject to change. Some reviews have been edited for length and/or clarity.

A sponge that aces tests
You might think a sponge is a sponge, but a good one makes all the difference. O'Cedar's Scrunge multi-use scrubber sponge has ripples on one side that help break down crusty food. "This sponge was absorbent and durable, and it looked surprisingly clean at the end of testing," said the folks at America's Test Kitchen, who ranked this the best kitchen sponge they tested. "It was also our preferred size: thick enough to hold comfortably but small enough to maneuver in tight spaces."

Promising review: "OMG!! I never thought I would rave a sponge but these deserve a multitude of raves. These are high quality and durable sponges. They are so well constructed beginning with the very thick and absorbent sponge portion. The scrubber side is rippled and ridged and varies from 1/4 to 1/2 inch in thickness. Often this portion is tough - not so here. It is flexible and bends easily along with the sponge and can move into any size area from the biggest to the tiniest to scrub and clean. The scrub portion also never seems to be coming apart from the sponge... I never never thought I would rave a scrubber sponge but high kudos to O-Cedar for the Scrunge sponge. Highly recommend. It will be the only one I use from now on." -- Barry

Get a 6-pack from Amazon for $7.68.
Or some cheerful Scrub Daddy sponges
The magic behind this sponge from "Shark Tank" is that it stays firm in cold water and softens in hot. "It is really worth the hype," said one HuffPost editor. Little bonus: The sponge's mouth can clean both sides of your cutlery at once.

Promising review: "I absolutely LOVE Scrub Daddys!!! I can't say enough good things about this product. Firstly, I am the type of person who gets really grossed out by kitchen sponges. For whatever reason, these do not bother me! When run under color water, the material is good for scrubbing stuck-on food. When run under hot water, they get soft and are great for general cleaning. I never have a problem cleaning them or with them smelling. For me, each one lasts about 3-4 months. After three months, they start to break down a bit. So this single pack should last you about a year! Great value, in my opinion. By the way, these can also be used for cleaning stove tops, counters, windows, etc. I used one to get dog saliva off a storm door. It was the only thing that worked!" -- Claire

Get a two-pack from Amazon for $5.10.
A dish soap beloved by Cook's Illustrated testers
This cruelty-free dish soap "cut through caked-on grime quickly and effortlessly," according to testers at Cook's Illustrated, who named it their top pick for liquid dish soap. They reported that it cleaned burnt-on chicken teriyaki more than two times faster than the other soaps they tested.

Promising review: "My favorite dish soap now ever. Smells really really good, washes well, feels good on my skin, disperses slowly so I don't waste product, lasting really well. The smell makes washing dishes almost pleasurable." -- Carrie L.

Get it from Amazon for $3.85.
Or a free and clear dish soap that's really, really good at cleaning
Wirecutter testers loved both Dawn and this Seventh Generation dish soap, but gave this the edge for being made without dyes or synthetic fragrances and not being tested on animals. It also comes in scented versions that work equally well.

Promising review: "Seventh Generation dish soap cleans the food off the dishes without having to do any major scrubbing like some of the other dish soaps I have tried. This is an excellent dish soap and is also earth friendly. I will not be going back to any other dish soaps after trying this one." -- Walmartshopper

Get it from Walmart for $2.77.
A roll-up sink drying rack for space-saving flexibility
Solid, stainless, sturdy and anti-slip, this rack keeps your countertops dry and your drips in the sink. And when you don't need it, you can simply roll it up and slip it in a drawer to save space.

Promising review: "Why didn't I know about this sooner? Makes pretty much every sink-related chore SO much easier. Being able to have items at counter height in the sink makes it so much easier to fill and lift a large pot of water, wash a large pot or other object. No more putting 'whatever' in the sink then having to lift it back out again. So much easier on the back. Then it rolls up and tucks neatly into a drawer. Great product. Highly recommend." -- Therese

Get it from Amazon for $11.89 and up (comes in 5 sizes).
Or a DishGarden drying rack for small spaces
But if you need more of the "rack" part of a drying rack, consider this small-space fave a HuffPoster swears by. The two utensil holders can move to wherever you want them, and you can open and close the drain spout to avoid puddles on the counter.

Get it from Amazon for $24.38.
An eco-friendly alternative to sponges
These reusable cleaning cloths can replace sponges, dishcloths, rags and even paper towels. They're dishwasher safe, can go through the laundry and also be zapped in the microwave to kill bacteria and any weird smells. Best of all, when you're done, they're completely biodegradable.

Promising review: "We ordered these because they claimed to be a good alternative to using paper towels. ...That was more than seven months ago, and we're still going strong on the first two of the set of four. These 'cloths' (they are thick-ish, like the thickness of fleece, but kind of spongy as well) are as absorbent as can be... at least three times their volume; and after they are squeezed out, they absorb even more. ...It was after the second month with these that I realized we'd gone all of that time without finishing the roll of paper towels (that was half gone when I started using them) we had in our kitchen. I use one of them for washing dishes, and because they are pliable and somewhat 'grippy' I can get into all of the nooks and crannies for an excellent job of hand-washing of glass and ceramicware as well as cutlery. I don't know how these things are put together, but after more than half a year, they haven't torn or started to break apart despite the fact that all of our dishes are hand washed with this item... If you are looking for a long-lasting and hard-working product that will reduce your reliance on paper towels and dish sponges, look no further. The Skoy Eco-Friendly Cleaning Cloth is worth every cent." -- Amazon customer

Get a four-pack from Amazon for $7.99.
A chainmail scrubber for cast iron pans
If you own cast iron pans, you sure know you shouldn't use soap or soak them. But sometimes there's crusty, baked-on food! This stainless steel chainmail scrubber will eliminate that mess quickly without stripping away your layers of careful seasoning.

Promising review: "I got a cast iron skillet for Christmas last year, but while I love how it cooks things, I absolutely loathed cleaning it. I had heard about these and decided to give it a try. You will not regret this! It makes sloughing off all the cooked on crud super duper easy. I was amazed at how my skillet looked after the first use - the bottom was smooth and sleek, like it was brand new! I no longer dread using my cast iron as much as I once did." -- Jennifer

Get it from Amazon for $12.99.
A chic faux marble anti-fatigue mat from Emeril Lagasse
Give your back and joints a rest with this anti-fatigue mat. With an inch and a half of foam, a rubber skid-resistant backing and a wipe-clean surface, it's the perfect companion for when you have to spend time hunched over the sink (and at this price, you can grab one for your stove, too).

Promising review: "This is the best anti fatigue mat! It’s so cute, true to color, and actually cushioned! It actually helps with my back while washing dishes!" -- Stephanie

Get it from Wayfair for $17.99.
A scrubbing brush with an integrated sink rest
You don't have to clunk up your sink with a whole organizing station when you can just rest this scrub brush on the rim by its little nonslip nub. The integrated pan scraper at the top will also help you tackle crusty cleaning jobs.

Promising review: "Sometimes it's the little things that make you happy - like the fact that the dish brush can sit up out of the sink, not get gross when you accidentally throw greasy dishes on top, and it's attractive and matches the other Joseph Joseph kitchen tools like the dish drainer! I actually store it above the sink hanging off the window ledge, because I find it is more out of the way, and less likely to slip into the sink. My husband splashes water everywhere, and then it does slide off the edge if it's on the sink itself, but this problem was solved completely by moving it to the window ledge." -- Jazzmine

Get it from Amazon in gray for $6.99 or green for $7.99.
Or a pots and pans brush the experts swoon over
Folks at America's Test Kitchen spent weeks burning things onto baking dishes and pans just to test scrub brushes, and were left raving about the Rinse Fresh pot and pan Brush from O-Cedar, which not only tackled horrible messes well but rinsed clean due to the clever spacing of its stiff bristles.

Promising review: "I purchased this to clean our grill pan we use to grill vegetables. It works great for this purpose. It is well built and has a sturdy handle. The bristles are far enough apart that it is easy to clean the brush after use but still has plenty of bristles to do a great job with cleaning the grill pan." -- GWgirl

Get it from Amazon for $10.38.
The champion of kitchen towels
If, like we once did, you buy whatever thin, cheap kitchen towels are on sale at Target or wherever you happened to be shopping, you probably find them ... fine. But try these, and there will be no going back. Ever. These hardworking kitchen towels are tough, absorbent and the perfect balance between lightweight and heavy-duty. "Its fabric tightened, toughened, and grew more absorbent the more we used and washed it," said testers at Cook's Illustrated. "Stripes camouflaged stains until they washed out and kept this sturdy towel looking fresh."

Get a pack of four from Williams Sonoma for $13.99+ (available in 13 color options).
A highly-rated bottle brush
You'll love the comfort handle and hanging hole as much as you'll love feeling good about how clean your water bottles, jars and glasses are.

Promising review: "I have three people in my house that use the aluminum bottles for everything liquid (coffee, smoothies, water) but I get to wash them all. The first one my wife bought me to use was OK but the handle was held on by friction and kept coming off while I was using it. Frustrating but I used it until it broke. The next one was really for baby bottles and much too short so I rejected that and decided to buy my own. I chose this one and have been VERY pleased. It does a great job on the aluminum bottles. It is big enough for the wider ones and I can get it in the one with only about a 1" diameter top. The handle is long enough to get into the tallest which is great. It doesn't have that stupid sponge on the top that a lot of them have and to me is just something to hold germs. It does a great job cleaning the bottles even with smoothie that was left baking in the car a couple of days or dried on coffee."

Get it from Amazon for $6.47.
Or some environmentally safe tablets that clean your water bottles for you
These biodegradable and chlorine-free remove stains and odors from hard-to-clean items like stainless steel bottles and mugs, hydration reservoirs and coolers. Just pop one in, let it sit for 15-30 minutes, and then rinse.

Promising review: "I wasn't sure if this was a gimmick or not. Turns out it works really well. I have four metal thermos-like containers that are used to keep tea warm every day. Over time, the tea stained the insides and was very difficult to remove. I added one of these tablets to the container, filled it with hot water, and let it sit for a few hours. When I came back to rinse it out, I was literally amazed at how clean it was. I think it looked cleaner than when it was new. I called my wife over to show her, and she was equally impressed. Awesome product!" — Robert A Moreno II

Get a pack of 12 from Amazon for $8.
Some top-performing dishwasher pacs
There's no betrayal like that of a dishwasher that doesn't actually get your dishes clean. Sometimes the issue might be mechanical or you may be loading it wrong, and sometimes you might just be using crap detergent. Consumer Reports ranked Cascade's Platinum ActionPacs with Dawn just behind Sam's Club's house brand as the best option, citing their top-notching cleaning performance and ability to resist film and discoloration. Reviewers note these pacs are especially great with hard water.

Promising review: "I had always used the normal pods but decided since there were times it didn't get everything off dishes I would try. After first use I was blown away at how clean dishes were and I threw some tough ones at it, how clean they were. Going to be my go-to dishwasher pods from now on!" -- Poettone

Get it from Amazon for $13.11.
A sink stopper and strainer that doesn't come with decades of gunk
Want to soak some dishes or cookware, but your sink strainer is disgusting (or lost)? Grab this combo strainer and stopper from Oxo, which will will fill or drain your sink with a simple twist of the knob. And unlike old-school strainers that so easily gunk up, this one traps food you can release by simply inverting the silicone basket.

Promising review: "Oh, OXO sink strainer where have you been all my life. I feel like a new chapter in my existence has begun. Gone are the dark dreary days with my silver Dollar Tree strainer. My life is now alive, bright and shiny. Gone are the days of shimmying the strainer plunger into the sink mouth. Now I just place it down and it stays. A simple twist of the knob and the water drains. It made preparing the dishwater for dish duty a dream. I walk differently, with my head held high. This product has changed my life for the better." -- Emmanjake

Get it from Amazon for $10.99.
A disposal cleaner that requires almost no effort at all
Similarly, washing dishes at the sink is much worse when your disposal is sending up nasty odors. This foaming, citrus-scented disposal cleaner gets rid of stink-causing residues down there in the dark, dirty depths of your sink.

Promising review: "This stuff is amazing. My disposal has smelled awful for the past 6 months and I tried everything-vinaigrette baking soda, lemons, bleach and ice cubes. I’d get rid of the smell and a day later it would be back. I used one pac of afresh and so far the smell hasn’t returned. I’m thrilled, because that smell was awful." -- Amy

Get a three-pack from Amazon for $2.99.
And a product that'll help your dishwasher clean even better
Just like your garbage disposal, your dishwasher can get a little gunky with residue that hampers performance. Tossing in one of these little tabs every now and then will help remove lime scale and mineral build-up and make sure your machine's as clean as it can be.

Promising review: "I have a Kitchenaid dishwasher that is 5 years old. I am a fanatic about keeping the inside of the dishwasher clean. However, all of a sudden, all of our glasses were coming out of the dishwasher spotted. I finally called a service technician. He took the top and bottom racks out and they were covered with a white film. He cleaned both racks and instructed me to run a cycle with vinegar once again. He also recommended that I purchase a product that is designed for cleaning dishwashers. I went online and found that Affresh was highly recommended. I purchased some and was amazed at how clean the inside of the dishwasher was. Since Affresh can be used with dishes. I put all of our black plastic utensils, which had a white film on them, in the dishwasher and ran a cycle with my regular dishwasher detergent and a table of Affresh. It took all of the white film off. I am now using Affresh once a month and have not had a problem with spotting. I highly recommend this product." -- Racsan

Get a six-pack from Amazon for $5.98.
A cleanser that'll have your sink and cookware gleaming
Plagued by dull stainless steel pans or burner marks on the underside of your saucepans and pots? This'll take care of those stubborn marks in just a few seconds, plus take on copper and aluminum, too. After you've blasted through the nasty stuff on your cookware, it can make your sink and stainless steel stove look practically brand-new, too.

Promising review: "Why didn't anyone tell me about this before. This stuff is like pouring magic on my stainless steel stove top. I've been looking for something for several years and finally I found a miracle in a bottle. My stove top looks pretty much new again. " -- Christie

Get it from Walmart for $2.60 or Amazon for $8.55.
Go To Homepage

Before You Go

A no-rinse wash for delicates

What To Buy When You Suck At Laundry


MORE IN Shopping