An Inventory of Cleaning Tools | Brushes, Brooms & Bristles

 

It’s nearing the middle of March and soft, fluffy pillows of snow are falling outside our windows right now. We’ve got no where to be but cozy at home, a perfect opportunity as any to talk with you all about something I love. I’ll start by saying, I am overly excited about this cleaning post, so bear with my enthusiasm. I love cleaning tools just as much as I loved school supplies growing up, and I became a teacher. So there’s that. Okay, so I also love helping people learn things, and I love books, and I love kids, so there’s that too. Growing up, I was the girl who made little checks on the supply list mailed out mid-summer as my mom and I mazed our way through crowds of crayon boxes and crazed kids at the store. Once home, I’d lay out my new supplies spending an admittedly bizarre amount of time arranging them just so on my bed, admiring my just-sharpened No. 2 pencils and array of Lisa Frank folders, almost always sorting by theme or color. Do you remember Lisa Frank? Those were the cool, fancy folders, if I remember correctly. I am still that girl, only I’ve moved on from beautiful school supplies to beautiful cleaning ones.

Why, might you ask, do I prefer beautiful, more naturally crafted cleaning tools over synthetic, less attractive ones if they are going to be used for the purpose of scraping and scrubbing dirt, muck, dust, and grime? My answer to such a  query is a simple one: because everyday items, yes even ones we use when we clean, can and should be beautiful, sustainable, and well-made. 

Cleaning and keeping our living spaces in order is something I do every single day after we craft, cook, play, and make lots of little messes together at home. It’s important and meaningful to me that I try to fold positive and loving energy into the most mundane tasks, because they are part and parcel of staying home and taking care of these babies of ours. I can honestly say that views such tasks in this regard truly makes my day more enjoyable, and if anything, more beautiful. Yes, I know that cleaning toilets is not beautiful. Scrubbing bacon grease off fry pans is not beautiful. Getting dust in your eye as you wipe down the fans is gross. But good music while I pick up and clean is lovely, and so are my cleaning tools. I take care of what I can to bring more joy into the work I do at home, so drudgery doesn’t have to live up to its name nor the connotation it implies.

We have many of our cleaning tools within an arm’s reach and therefore on display out of convenience due to our consistence use of them throughout the day. For this reason, I tend to invest in ones that are delightful to look at while maintaining high quality so they keep and we are not wasting money. Fortunately these days, you can easily track down pretty cleaning tools that are going to outlast your factory-made plastic ones thanks to mindful companies and makers that celebrate small-batch processes using natural materials like fibers from plants, animal hair, and different types of wood.

Wood, specially beech, is a durable material that stands the test of time and so there is a reason you see it making a rightful comeback after decades of historical use by keepers of the home. In addition to the beauty and practicality of wood, bristles made of palm and sisal contain natural lipids that help prevent mold and bacteria because of their chemical makeup, something that sponges, dishrags, and porous plastic scrubbers paradoxically attract. Not something we want to clean with. Ew. The number of studies that have been done on the bacteria-ridden kitchen sponge is extensive (and pretty disgusting!) and a large reason why I prefer my cleaning tools to be crafted with materials that repel these kinds of harmful microbes if I can help it.

So purposeful, sustainable, and beautiful? Yes to all three. Below is an inventory of the brushes and various cleaning tools we use in our home and where I purchased them, or similar styles that I think would do the job. I hope you find this list to be useful as we inch closer to spring cleaning!

  • Dustpan Set | The kids and I use this daily to sweep up little messes made around the house, usually in the kitchen. It’s small, handy, and darling with the smiley face.
  • Long Handled Dustpan | My mom got this dustpan on a trip to Amish country many, many years ago and I’ve had it since my years away at college. This tool is nice because you don’t have to bend down so it makes sweeping an easier chore if you’ve got a bigger mess to clean.
  • Common Dish Brush | This is the brush I use most often at the kitchen sink and it works so well. Many of our kitchen items are not dishwasher safe – including enamel, wood, copper, etc. – so I prefer to hand wash them with a scrubber like this and dry them after with a cloth towel so they hold up and last through the years. And coming in at under $5 you cannot beat the price. There are also versions similar to the one I buy at Prydes (a local kitchen store here in KC that you MUST visit if in town) that you can buy here.
  • Crumb Brush | If you are familiar with Montessori practices, this little brush is probably familiar to you. The kids use it to clean table messes and wipe up food scraps from the butcher block island when they help me make meals. It was a stocking stuffer a few years ago and is a big hit here.
  • Horse Hair Broom | This picks up even the tiniest crumbs and bits of dust hiding under the table. It is the one cleaning tool I use most frequently at home.
  • Heavy-Duty Corn Broom | This style of broom is ideal for deep sweeping, such as a dirty patio or dusty garage. The corn husk fibers are strong and resilient, making it the perfect tool for big jobs.
  • Round Vegetable Brush | This little guy is small and sturdy. We use this to clean and remove the dirt and wax on our fruits and veggies before eating. If you garden, you’ll like this one.
  • Best Baby Bottle Brush | If you have a young one who drinks a bottle, you’ll love this brush. Not many are able to really get in there and clean out the (dried) milk but this one does the job and it does it well.
  • Japanese Twist Brush | Ideal for cast iron pots and pans as you just use it with hot water.
  • Heavy-Duty Scrub Brush | This brush works well for deep cleaning floors and surfaces that are really dirty. It’s made of bamboo and tampico so it’s natural and eco friendly.
  • Standard Bottle Brush | I use this brush on occasion for cleaning glasses that I am not going to put in the dishwasher. I like that it’s well-made and has a long handle, making it perfect to clean hard to reach nooks.
  • Flour Sack Towels | You can’t go wrong with a flour sack dish towel for drying or wiping down counters. They are my favorite rags to use around the house and are dirt cheap.
  • Lambswool Duster | For high to reach places, this wood-handled duster is great. I generally use my homemade wood polish and cotton cloth for dusting our wood tables and cabinets, but this tool is handy for things like ceiling fans and lights that are high up.
  • Microfiber Cleaning Cloth for Windows | If you’ve never heard of Norwex cloths then your life is about to be changed. My mom is a lover of these babies and I have several. These clothes are made with sustainable materials that magically grab onto dirt and dust without having to use glass cleaner or paper towels that add to waste and contribute to deforestation. They are brilliant and last forever if you take care of them, so well worth the investment in my opinion.
  • My Favorite Cleaner | I could write a book on this cleaner and why I love it so very much, but the top two reasons are 1). Dr. Bronner’s is biodegradable and does a fantastic job on dishes 2). it creates the best pine-scented suds!

How should you care for your brushes? I soak my small brushes in a 1 part water + 1 part distilled white vinegar solution in the sink every few weeks or so to keep them clean. Hand-washing is best. You should not see mold on the wood or in the bristles, and if you do a replacement might be in order. If you need to do a deep clean of your brush, go ahead and sanitize it in the dishwasher. I do not recommend this as your first line of defense because this kind of cleaning pressure is not good for the wood or natural fibers, but that being said it should not hurt if you do it every now and again.

Here are a few other places you can find beautiful, well-made cleaning tools:

For more cleaning posts, head here.

What cleaning tools do you use consistently and love? Are you ready for spring cleaning? I am! Our walls and windows are FILTHY. Also, I am nearly done with my cleaning rhythm PDF so that’s quite exciting! It should be set to share next week.

 

 

  • Lanna

    This seems like a silly question but do you use a separate brush for your cast iron and your other dishes?ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Lanna, I just updated my list! I use a Japanese twisty brush made of palm fibers so you only need hot water. I got ours when we traveled overseas but I found a similar one at Kaufmann Mercantile for ya. They last FOREVER. x AmandaReplyCancel

  • Such a refreshing post, as always! Those gorgeous dish brushes are a dollar at just about all the grocery stores where we live right now in Germany, so I’ve been building up a stash for the rest of our lives!ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca

    Thanks so much for sharing. Just wondering what cloths you use for wiping down surfaces? XReplyCancel

  • jessica

    Freckled Hen Farmhouse also carries some lovely brushes (and general kitchen and garden things….)

    https://freckledhenfarmhouse.com/ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Jessica, what a wonderful source, thank you! Looks like I know what I’ll be browsing after the kids go to bed tonight 😉 x AmandaReplyCancel

  • anna

    Hi Amanda, I love this post! Always uplifting coming here. Just a question – your common dish brush link is to a wood handled but polypropylene bristled (synthetic)brush. which doesn’t look like what you have in the photo.I have found similar brushes with the natural bristle on amazon (and look like what you prob use as well). But a big thank you for all the inspiration and helpful links!
    AnnaReplyCancel

    • admin

      Anna, thank you so much for catching this! The WS brush is one I own and it’s good, but not near as sturdy or sustainable as the one from Prydes, a local kitchen store here in KC that I just adore. The link has been fixed! x AmandaReplyCancel

  • anna

    i thought you might be interested in this juicy stuff!

    “Women have innately basked their brains in feel good juices since time immemorial to get through tight economic and emotional times. Though dovetailed as woman’s work and not really discussed, for centuries women have enjoyed the calming properties of knitting, sewing, embroidering or even just rhythmically folding or ironing clothes.

    When I came across this blog entry from sustainable designer and writer Natalie Chanin, it not only piqued my perception of the positive effects of “women’s work,” but it brought to light a real aspect of how using our hands to do meaningful tasks can benefit our overall health and well being.

    Chanin cites neuroscientist Kelly Lambert, author of Lifting Depression:

    “Lambert shows how when you knit a sweater or plant a garden, when you prepare a meal or simply repair a lamp, you are bathing your brain in feel-good chemicals and creating a kind of mental vitamin. Our grandparents and great grandparents, who had to work hard for basic resources, developed more resilience against depression; even those who suffered great hardships had much lower rates of this mood disorder. But with today’s overly-mechanized lifestyle we have forgotten that our brains crave the well-being that comes from meaningful effort.””

    http://ecosalon.com/using-your-hands-to-soothe-the-brain-part-1/ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Anna, this is absolutely fantastic and I believe in the healing and restorative powers of this kind of work – the kind we do with our hands. Thank you SO much for sharing this here. Just beautiful. x AmandaReplyCancel

  • Crystal

    Thanks for this post. I already have many of these items but it is nice seeing a comprehensive list. One cleaning item I have really been wanting to add to my arsenal is a non-plastic bucket, large enough for storing supplies and filling up with soapy water when needed. Maybe enamel? Does anybody have a source for such a bucket?ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Crystal, so I found a great enamel pail at a local kitchen store here in KC that is actually a trash bin BUT it has a handle so it works perfectly for mopping and lugging around cleaning tools. I’d maybe check into enamel trash bins with handles online? Maybe you’ll have better luck. Someone needs to design cuter storage supplies for sure! x AmandaReplyCancel

  • Felicia

    Amanda, I think we could’ve been sisters!!! I was reading this blog and about fell off my seat at the exact same likes, interests and profession! Teacher = took all my school supplies and laid them out to look at! Plus Lisa Frank….what?!?! Seriously a soul sister! Thank you for sharing your cleaning brush selections.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Felicia, Lisa Frank forever girl. Sending you light and love today! x AmandaReplyCancel

  • Oh the nerdy cleaning goodness. Thanks for sharing! Beautiful materials really, really has helped me enjoy the cleaning process more. Also, the robot vacuum we bought that runs while I’m asleep. Ha! Gamechanger.ReplyCancel

    • admin

      Kali, oh my gosh Andrew and I have considered this! How well does it work? …be honest. We have LOTS of crumbs and dust (old house problems) over here. Oh and what happens with stairs? And does it get corners well? All the questions. x AmandaReplyCancel

  • Sarah

    I have three little ones also and I feel like lately I’m leaving my house in such a mess I am so organised yet still mess! I find it hard to draw a line between accepting mess and being happy anyway or setting the bar higher. Mess is part of life w kids and it can always wait. Yet it still bothers me coming home to MESS!! I’d love a really simple routine that we can do before leaving the house in the morning or a night time one. Even a printable checklist or routine would be great! Just an idea for a blogpost.

    Or maybe I should go with the mess and be happy with what gets done, that we eat amazingly healthy stuff and everyone dressed! LolReplyCancel

    • admin

      Sarah, first off you are most definitely not alone! Many people assume because I like to keep a tidy home that we never have messes and that’s far from the truth. My three bubs make HUGE messes all the time, but we are really big into teaching them how to help pick up. We have a chore sheet for them, it’s a simple little thing, but they love it. Alfie is too little to clean but he watches and helps put toys in baskets. We follow the Waldorf rhythms and sing a little song when we clean up together. It’s something we try and do after we make a mess and before going to another room to make yet another mess. It helps me so much. My one tip for now would be to get your kids involved! It may surprise you how much they can contribute. I tell them all the time that picking up and respecting our home is a part of being a family because I believe that. It shouldn’t be left all to you to do by yourself! And you are right, messes < eating and getting dressed, which some days is quite a feat! x AmandaReplyCancel

  • What a fantastically lovely post! I’m thrilled to immerse myself in it and build my cleaning tools collection!

    xo, LianneReplyCancel

  • Rachel Clem

    Hi Amanda,

    I was so excited to see you included Norwex in your post! I am a Norwex consultant and there have been so many times I thought about sending you one of their cloths to try thinking you would love them…so happy to see you are already using them. A little off topic but if you haven’t tried their body cloth I would highly recommend it. I use the body cloth and water to take off all my makeup. No chemicals and my skin feels amazing.

    Rachel ClemReplyCancel

    • admin

      Rachel, I have not! I love the idea behind their no waste products…I really need to give them a try. My grandma sells Shaklee (has FOREVER) and my mom uses Norwex…why haven’t I used more of these earth-friendly goodies? Thanks for sharing, love! x AmandaReplyCancel

  • Erica

    Love this! Even as an adult, I’m still giddy over school supply season. I was reading reviews on some of the Amazon brushes (specifically the dish one I think) and a lot of people were saying that the bristles fall out. Do you know how to prevent this?ReplyCancel

  • Crissy

    Love this! How do you use your sal suds? Do you replace it for castile soap in your homemade recipes or do you use it just for dishes?ReplyCancel

    • admin

      You are all set, lovely! I am resending the newsletter later this afternoon. Happy reading and welcome! x AmandaReplyCancel

  • Yoly

    Hey Mama,
    What do you use for mopping your wood floors and do you use the Sal Suds cleaner?ReplyCancel

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