The greatest kitchen-cleaning appliance you’ll ever own only costs seven bucks, is the size of your palm, and, like all of the great household items you don’t yet own, comes from Japan and in the kind of whimsical packaging so aesthetically pleasing — wrapped in orange plastic, with a turtle on it — you won’t even want to unwrap it. But when you do, I promise, you’ll never scrub the same way again. It’s called the Kamenoko Tawashi. And I have Jenny Holzer to thank for it.
Maybe you’ve heard of her? She’s the artist of global renown who mounts massive, hilariously disarming text-oriented works in light, projecting her work on walls, buildings, LCD displays, and so on. As I learned from this 2009 story about her home life, Jenny Holzer, like me, is an overpacker. Jenny Holzer loves doing laundry but hates putting it away. Jenny Holzer wakes up at 8 a.m. She drinks tea and answers emails “while I stall thinking about whatever scares me.”
But my favorite thing I learned about Jenny Holzer? Her favorite household item:
“My Japanese gold-and-silver bath and pot scrubbers. They are for scrubbing things, and they are the best. They look like what they are and stay that way despite all your personal grime.”
Not only did that immediately register as one of the most Jenny Holzer things Jenny Holzer could possibly say, but I became obsessed with finding her Japanese scrubbers. While I’m not sure I found the exact scrubber, I eventually happened upon the Kamenoko. As I’d later learn, it’s got a rich, century-long history, and it’s since become one of the most common household objects in Japan. After ten minutes cleaning with it, you’ll know why. On first glance, its angry little brown fibers look like they’ll do more damage to your hands than your pots. But fear not: Those fibers, made of hemp palm, soften under water, enough for you to get a cozy, ticklish hold on. And then they will proceed to absolutely obliterate any grime you’ll come across, on any surface. They clean easily. They’re the best kind of gift, too — perfect for a Secret Santa, or a housewarming, in that you’ll buy the one thing people will actually regularly use for the rest of their lives. Your friends will thank you. Your pots will be clean. And the nature of your personal grime will change forever.
The Strategist is a series of smart, obsessive shopping guides from the New York Magazine section of the same name. We’ve scoured the web to bring you the best of the best. Some of our latest conquests include rolling luggage, water bottles, umbrellas, Korean beauty products, white T-shirts, and a nail clipper. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Please note that all prices are subject to change.