Sponges

I was stood there for at least 35 minutes, staring at the range of choices available to me, unable to make a decision. Each choice I was given offered different options: scouring, non-abrasive, non-stick, heavy duty, pots and pans, etc. Often, it’s the easiest decisions that are the hardest to make.

I remember it almost like it was last week, standing in the cleaning products isle of the sole Walmart in Orillia. Steel shelving was holding up a countless number of items, all of which I recognized by none of which I remembered seeing before. I was tossed into a state of confusion, unanticipated and unprepared.

What’s the difference between the yellow-and-green ones and the blue-and-darker-blue ones? Why are some of them only a solid colour, and why don’t these ones have a scouring pad attached? Why don’t all of them have a scouring option? How many pots and pans do I need to clean? Do I need only a scouring pad? Why are the packages that are cheaper come with a variety of colours but not the more expensive ones? How many companies make sponges? What sort of technology goes into making a sponge that allows them to have so many different patents? What the fuck is the difference between the yellow-and-green ones and the blue-and-darker-blue ones? Why are they made by the same company? Will a J Cloth work? How much are paper plates?

I turned to Google. It was no help. How seriously can you take a 4.7 rating on sponges?

This was almost four years ago. Since then, I’ve stuck with the sponges that I walked away with that day: the blue-and-darker-blue ones. I make no consideration about price or quantity per package when purchasing new ones. They work for me. They do what I need them do. They’re sponges and function as expected.

That is, until about four weeks ago, when I bought a different type of sponge: the purple-and-darker-purple ones. They’re made by the same company as the blue-and-darker-blue ones but the purple ones have white polka dots on the scouring part and claim to be stick-free. And, purple is my favourite colour.

I thought, “How different can they really be? After all, it’s a sponge.”

Not pictured: the stick-free scouring surface, with white polka dots, because that part fell off.

They’re shit. The purple-and-darker-purple ones are shit.

At first, I thought it was me. I thought, “How can a sponge not work well? It must be you using the sponge incorrectly. All this time, you fool, you’ve not used a sponge correctly. Stop being so dependent on the scouring side, flip it over and use the fluffy side. You’ll get a nice, sudsy clean. You love watching the foam lather and the feeling of it running clean over your hands.”

The purple-and-darker-purple sponges fall apart. It constantly tears itself apart as I run it along the edge of a glass or around a frying pan. The scouring side, with the white polka dots, doesn’t stick to the fluffy portion of the sponge. It doesn’t even lather well, as if it’s pourous and an emulsion. I’m using more dish soap – the blue one – than I have ever before.

I make no compromises on which dish soap I buy, and, now, I never will. Well, with one expection: I recently bought some cheap dish soap to use to clean the outside of the windows of my apartment. My windows are still dirty, with streaks interfering with the streams of evening sunlight that filter through my blinds.

I’ve got nearly all of the 1479 mL bottle left. I still have three more of the fucking sponges, too. Maybe they will work well together. Two negatives, type of thing.

Then, only last week, I found myself in the cleaning products isle of the Superstore where I buy the bulk of my groceries. This happens to also be where I made the ill-fated decision to purchase the purple-and-darker-purple sponges that were hanging on the hook next to the blue-and-darker-blue sponges.

A few weeks ago, I decided that I needed to buy some steel wool sponges to help me really get a good clean on some of the surfaces that could use a little attention; my cast iron pan, baking sheets, sink, and stove top needed a bit of touching up. Fine. Steel wool is sponge made out of a metal. Steel, in all it’s incarnations, is steel. All that was available was “stainless steel spiral scrubbers”, of the proprietary brand.

The steel wool sponges that my mom bought me were copper in colour. They were round, like donuts. They were made of fine strands of copper-coloured steel. She must have used them to do some cleaning when she visited because I couldn’t find them anywhere in my apartment.

Without thinking too long about it, I bought the stainless steel spiral scubbers. I didn’t have the time or energy to compare what was available to me with my vision of what I was looking for.

Amazing.

The abrasive nature of the sponge delivers. The lathering is not quite what I want out of a sponge, but the clean that it delivers is expectional. All of the surfaces I attacked with it ended up cleaner than anything the purple-and-darker-purple or blue-and-darker-blue sponges could muster.

I found myself pushing my muscles past the point of exhaustion just to see what else I could get the spiral scrubber to scour off. Caked on dough on the countertop: gone. Fried onion on the stove: gone. Grime in the crevass where the faucet meets the sink: gone. Oily film on the sides of the stainless steel sink: gone. Baked on black stuff on cookie sheets: still needs a lot of work.

I’m inclined to look up the abrasion resistance of the different materials that make up my kitchen outfit to find out which can safely withstand the spiral scrubber. I won’t test the material on a small, inconspicuous portion of the surface, because I just won’t.

I won’t because I want a sponge that just works. I want a sponge that just shows up and gets to work. I want a great lather, a great clean, and a feeling of great satisfaction. I want a sponge that just does it all. I want the perfect sponge.

That I have to have a small basket to hold my non-abrasive-non-stick-surface-safe cloth, purple-and-darker-purple (ugh.) sponge, and stainless steel spiral scubber, is too much for me.

Where is my blue-and-darker-blue-stainless-steel-spiral-scrubber sponge? Why can’t we just have a sponge that magically erases it all?

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