Hint: It's time to update your kitchen sponge.

By Katie Holdefehr
Updated April 04, 2019
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Have you been using the same brand of kitchen sponges for decades? When's the last time you switched up your cleaning spray? It's all too easy to fall into a cleaning supplies rut, always buying the same products month after month. And while it's fine to stick with a product you know works for you, new innovative cleaning tools could be helping you clean faster, safer, and in a more eco-friendly way. To help decide which updated cleaning supplies are worth updating (and when it's best to stick with the old standbys), we've mapped it out for you, below. Here are some of Real Simple editors' favorite new cleaning supplies discovered in recent years, plus the classic cleaning supplies we'll likely never give up.

Food52

1

Traditional dryer sheets are filled with chemicals, and if you use a fresh sheet with each load of laundry, the waste starts to add up. The eco-friendly, chemical-free alternative: wool dryer balls. They help soften towels and sheets in the wash, knocking out wrinkles, while simultaneously speeding up drying time. If you miss the familiar smell of dryer sheets, try adding a few drops of essential oils (like soothing lavender) to a wool dryer ball before tossing it in the dryer. 

To buy: $38 for 6; food52.com

Amazon

2

Most of us are so used to touching a gross, germy garbage can, we've never considered that there might be a better option out there. The solution: a "touchless" garbage can that opens with the wave of a hand. Not only is this garbage can more sanitary, but it also comes with a carbon odor filter, helping it smell better than a standard trash can. 

To buy: $60; amazon.com

Related: The Kitchen Garbage Can That Saved My Marriage

Grove Collaborative

3

I never thought much about my go-to cleaning spray—that is, until I tried Grove Collaborative's cleaning concentrate kit. Instead of plastic bottles that get thrown away each month, the kit comes with glass bottles that can be used for years. When it's time to refill the bottle, the cleaning concentrate comes in a tiny container to minimize the amount of plastic sent to the landfill.

And if you've never been a fan of the chemical smell most multi-purpose cleaning sprays have, you'll never want to go back once you get a whiff of this refreshing scented formula.

To buy: $24 for the kit; grove.co.

Amazon

4

Still using disposable paper towels? Upgrade your cleaning routine with microfiber cleaning cloths that won't leave streaks on appliances and mirrors. Or, for the most eco-friendly option, opt for reusable (and handmade) cotton cloths that you can throw in the washing machine whenever they need a refresh. And if you love the convenience of a paper towel you can toss out when it gets gross, try these tree-free paper towels made from bamboo pulp. 

To buy: 

  • Microfiber Cleaning Cloths: $13 for 24-pack; amazon.com
  • Unpaper Towels: $15; etsy.com
  • Tree-Free Paper Towels: $4; grove.co
Amazon

5

Ordinary kitchen sponges are notorious breeding grounds for germs and bacteria—and when we learned that microwaving them only makes the situation worse, we decided it was time for an upgrade. The solution: an innovative sponge that resists bacteria and lasts for months without that mildew smell. The Scrub Daddy is one cult-favorite alternative to traditional sponges, and there's also the Peachy Clean, a silicone sponge that worked wonders on stuck-on food when we put it to the dishwashing test

To buy: 

Amazon

6

We've been using Goo Gone for years and years, but we still haven't found anything more effective at removing stickers and coaxing sticky residue off of surfaces. It still has the intense citrus scent, but it's gum-removing abilities have proven it deserves a permanent spot in our cleaning supplies cabinet. 

To buy: $4; amazon.com

Amazon

7

A trusted ingredient in some of our favorite natural, homemade cleaning solutions and also the most effective mild abrasive for scrubbing a stainless steel sink, baking soda will always be a must-have in our cleaning caddies. Plus, you can pick up a box at any grocery store for about a buck. 

To buy: $8 for a 12-pound bag; walmart.com

Amazon

8

This multi-tasking cleanser can be used as everything from laundry detergent to dishwashing liquid. Plus, Dr. Bronner's Baby Unscented Castile Soap is ideal for those with allergies or sensitive skin. Made with olive oil, it's moisturizing, so it won't cause your hands to dry out, even after a marathon dishwashing session. 

To buy: $16 for a 32-ounce bottle; walmart.com