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The Best Chain Mail Scrubbers

Can these little gadgets clean cast iron better than oil and salt?


Published July 1, 2016. Appears in America's Test Kitchen TV Season 21: Cook It in Cast Iron

See Everything We Tested

What You Need To Know

The Knapp Made Classic CM Scrubber, a 4 by 4-inch square of interlinked stainless-steel rings (the “CM” stands for “chain mail”) that sells for $14.99, makes easy work of cleaning stuck-on food out of cast-iron pans. Recently, Knapp Made released a new model, the Small Ring CM Scrubber ($19.98), that is larger overall (it’s about 5 by 5 inches) and has smaller, thinner rings. To see which scrubber was better, we put the two models to the test, cleaning up a range of messes not only on plain cast iron but also on dark enameled cast iron, stainless steel, and heat-resistant glass—all types of cookware that the manufacturer claims the scrubbers can handle.

The good news is that both scrubbers did a stellar job of removing gunk from all of the pans. The bad news is that they both scratched and damaged the enameled and stainless-steel pans—we don’t recommend that you use either scrubber on those types of pans. But if you stick with plain cast iron and Pyrex, these scrubbers work very well for big messes.

Which is better? We prefer the newer scrubber to the original by a hair. Because of its larger size, the Small Ring CM Scrubber was easier to handle and covered more territory more quickly than the original, taking between 10 seconds and 2 minutes less to clean the same kinds of messes. And its smaller, narrower rings made it more agile and better at maneuvering around corners and detailing hard-to-access areas (like the grooves of our grill pan). These scrubbers are metal, so go easy—if you use excessive force, you can strip the seasoning from cast-iron pans and even scratch their surface.

Everything We Tested

Good : 3 stars out of 3.Fair : 2 stars out of 3.Poor : 1 stars out of 3.
*All products reviewed by America’s Test Kitchen are independently chosen, researched, and reviewed by our editors. We buy products for testing at retail locations and do not accept unsolicited samples for testing. We list suggested sources for recommended products as a convenience to our readers but do not endorse specific retailers. When you choose to purchase our editorial recommendations from the links we provide, we may earn an affiliate commission. Prices are subject to change.
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Reviews you can trust

Reviews you can trust

The mission of America’s Test Kitchen Reviews is to find the best equipment and ingredients for the home cook through rigorous, hands-on testing. We stand behind our winners so much that we even put our seal of approval on them.

Miye Bromberg

Miye is a senior editor for ATK Reviews. She covers booze, blades, and gadgets of questionable value.