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Overcooked quinoa, stovetop popcorn, beans, and scrambled eggs: these things have left me with the greatest of messes, stuck adamantly to the bottoms of my pots and pans. But no more.

In the past, I’ve tried a number of varying scrubbing techniques to make my cookware shiny and clean. When it came to my beloved cast iron pan, I used a generous pour of salt and a damp paper towel to scoff away food remnants, and when faced with a truly burnt disaster (like that time chickpea pasta, unattended, practically scorched its wheel shapes into the stainless steel pot it had been boiling in), I used the trusty combination of vinegar, baking soda, and patience. Now, equipped with a Kamenoko Tawashi brush, I scrub with ease—luxuriate in it, even.

I was vaguely familiar with this brown, sea urchin-esque kitchen tool when I first decided to pick up a generic version of the classic Kamenoko design at Muji a few months ago. In store, it cost just a few bucks, and online it rarely amounts to over $10. Its durability and function, however, make it much more valuable.

The Kamenoko (small turtle) Tawashi (scrubber) has been a classic household item used in Japan for over 100 years. It’s made out of palm fibers, which are biodegradable and mold-resistant—so it can last for years.

With just a little water added to the mix, this scrubbing brush has allowed me to slough stuck-on food scraps off the bottoms of heavy-duty pans, and deep-clean less intense messes in mere seconds; it doesn’t even require detergent to be effective. Unlike steel wool, the Tawashi doesn’t scratch more delicate surfaces; I use it to clean dishes and cookware without a problem. (If you have fine china, however, I’d stick to a gentle sponge just to be safe).

It can also be used to wash fruits and vegetables or to give dirt-caked potatoes a good, clean scrub. When I brought home a delightful yet dusty pumpkin from my local farmers market, the Tawashi made it presentable without requiring any extra muscle.

When you’re done cleaning, just give the Tawashi a good rinse, and hang it by its tiny hook to dry, until it’s time to scrub every surface again—this time, with feeling.

Products & Tools photo
“Tawashi” Vegetable Scrub Brush, Kamenoko Tawashi

This story was originally published in November 2018 and has since been updated.