Blogs and magazines that include articles about home care often provide lists of what they view as the best cleaning products. Here is the first part of a series on what I consider to be the best cleaning products for your household.

One of the most used cleaning tools in my house is the blue scrub sponge with a non-scratch blue plastic scrubbing pad attached to one side, so it is really two cleaning devices in one. The brand I typically use is the Scotch-Brite scrub sponge with the wavy shape. These tend to hold up longer than the generic rectangular versions often sold as store brands. It is a good ideas to rinse out a new sponge with liquid dish soap and water, though it usually takes a few days of use to break in the new sponge so it absorbs water evenly. Once the sponge is broken in and most of the water is squeezed out, the blue sponge provides an excellent washing and squeegee action so smooth surface dry quickly without streaks or water marks left from puddles.Yellow Scrub Daddy & blue scrub sponge

The blue scrubber side is used with more water and possibly spray cleaners or liquid dish soap to clean off dried food stuck on dishes and kitchen surfaces and soap scum and other dirt on bathroom surfaces. For thicker buildups of food, soap or dirt, save time and effort by using the Scrigit Scraper first to remove these buildups before using the scrub sponge. The non-scratch blue pad is safe to use on most surfaces, including pots and pans with non-stick coatings. Note that sponges with green scrub pads are meant for heavier duty use and can scratch some surfaces.

Keep in mind that mold and bacteria can grow on damp sponges, so thoroughly rinse out sponges after use to eliminate bits of food that will spur mold growth, and then squeeze out as much water as possible. It is a good idea to use sponges along with spray cleaners. Sponges can be put in the upper rack of dishwashers to clean them. Household bleach diluted in hot water, about a tablespoon per cup of water, can be put on the sponge for a few minutes to kill off any mold and bacteria and eliminate any musty odor. Wear gloves when completely rinsing out the sponge, and do not splash the bleach solution on any clothing.

For many cleaning jobs, the Scrub Daddy sponge is a good choice. The original sponge is made in a yellow round smiley face shape, though now there are other colors and shapes. The sponge is made out of a unique FlexTexture material that is soft in warm water for lighter scrubbing needs and firmer in cool water when more scrubbing power is needed. Food usually rinses out easily, though sometimes liquid dish soap is needed to facilitate the process. The Scrub Daddy can also be cleaned in the dishwasher.

There are a lot of sponges and other cleaning pads available. What are your favorites?