Scrub your bottles and carafes—and even your salad spinner—to a whole new level of clean.
Published Jan. 30, 2019.
A bottle brush is designed to fit into spaces a standard sponge can't. This cleaning tool—basically a wand with a brush head on one end—fits easily into tall, slim, and narrow-mouth bottles, such as water bottles, coffee carafes, and baby bottles. Curious to see how well they worked, we gathered five popular, widely available models, all priced $15.00 or less, and got to testing.
First, we wanted to see if each brush could fit into a variety of bottles, including our winning glass and plastic water bottles, a narrow-mouthed glass bottle, a baby bottle, a glass carafe, and a stainless-steel coffee carafe. (The answer: Yes, though none of the brushes fit into an exceptionally narrow-mouthed glass water bottle with a roughly ¾-inch opening.) Then we used each brush to remove sticky honey from inside each container and to scrub smoothie remnants from water bottles. We washed each brush multiple times, checking for wear and tear, odor retention, and leftover food particles throughout testing. We also had volunteers use the brushes at home for a week.
Overall, these brushes worked well, remained odor-free, and proved themselves essential cleaning tools. More than one tester said that using a bottle brush took their cleaning to the next level, especially in scrubbing heavily stained coffee carafes. And while most brushes performed well, one was woefully inadequate—and another wowed us.
Bottle brushes have two key elements: the scrubber head, with all the bristles, and the handle, which is typically a long, thin wand. Heads ranged in length from 1.88 to 9 inches, and size greatly impacted scrubbing ability.
We wanted a brush that could cover maximum area with minimal effort. The longest brush head, at 9 inches, resembled a big, fluffy cat's tail and was too long to really move around inside containers. With bristles all over the place, except on the all-important brush tip, this model made it difficult to scrub a specific spot and was ultimately inadequate.
Another brush had the opposite problem. Its petite head was the shortest in the lineup, and one tester compared it to using a very fine brush to paint trim on a wall. “You kind of have to work it around,” she said, because it doesn't cover a lot of area at once.” On the plus side, the small brush head made it easy to target specific spots inside a container that needed extra scrubbing.
Our favorite brush was a happy medium: It had a 3.75-inch head that was small enough to easily maneuver in most spaces but still large enough to scrub a sizable area at once.
Naturally, bristles were an important fac...
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.