The 9 Types of Cleaning Sponges to Tackle Any Mess

At first glance, cleaning is a simple prospect: you gather the supplies, wipe everything down, and voilá! You have a beautifully clean house forevermore… Sounds like a fairy tale, right?

As we all know, keeping your house clean is not a simple – nor singular – task. It’s an ongoing responsibility, or perhaps it feels like a battle to you. And there are lots of cleaning supplies out on the market, which suggests there are lots of cleaning supplies you might need to do the job right.

Here at Summit Maids, our professional cleaners know which products to use for each cleaning task they encounter, but you might be a bit more mystified as you try and do it yourself. To that end, this post will help you understand what seems like another simple cleaning decision, but which is surprisingly complex if you want to do it right: choosing the right sponge.

Below you’ll find the nine common types of cleaning sponges, as well as what they’re best used for – and what to not use each sponge type on. After reading, you’ll understand why there are different types of cleaning sponges and can choose the one that’s right for cleaning your home – or can decide to leave it to the professionals.

Abrasive Sponges

  • Best For: grills, stained fences, outdoor furniture, 
  • Do Not Use On: delicate glass, non-stick pots and pans, screens

Abrasive sponges are one of the toughest types of cleaning sponges out there. These sponges are mainly used to remove stuck-on food or stubborn debris and grime. Abrasive sponges are made of different abrasive materials, like metal or plastic. Although some abrasive sponges can be cellulose sponges with an abrasive surface on top. 

Cellulose Sponges

  • Best For: dishes, countertops, bathroom and kitchen surfaces, wiping spills
  • Do Not Use On: surfaces with stubborn debris, dishes that have served raw eggs or raw meat juices

Cellulose Sponges are easily spotted for their bright colors and bubbly texture. They are primarily made from wood pulp, and other common materials, including hemp fibers, sodium sulfate crystals, and softeners. These sponges have great absorbency, thanks to the small holes inside them.

Combo Cellulose & Abrasive Sponges

  • Best For: cleaning dishes, bathroom and kitchen surfaces, plastic ware, pots and pans, glasses
  • Do Not Use On: avoid using the abrasive side on non-stick pots and pans

Even if you don’t know them like “combo cellulose and abrasive sponges”, you’ve seen them and probably own one. Combo cellulose and abrasive sponges are one of the most popular types of cleaning sponges thanks to their versatility. 

These sponges have two sides: a roughage side and a scrub side. The scrub side, or abrasive side, comes in different levels of toughness. If you want the sponge for everyday usage, get one with a non-scratch, low abrasive level.

Wire Sponges

  • Best For: cleaning glassware, porcelain, non-mirrored cookware, ovens, grills, hard-to-clean surfaces in the kitchen, bathroom surfaces, outdoor furniture 
  • Do Not Use On: stainless steel, wood surfaces 

A wire sponge, or steel wool, is a bundle of very fine, flexible sharp-edged steel or metal filaments. Wire sponges are quite versatile, too. They are popularly used to clean glass and porcelain given they can scrape off deposits without scratching the underlying surface like common abrasives. It is also used for cleaning stubborn debris and grime in metal pots, pans, and grills.

Yellow Urethane Sponges

  • Best For: kitchen and bathroom surfaces, copper, non-stick cookware, and china, dishwater 
  • Do Not Use On: knives as you can rip the covering on the sponge

Yellow urethane sponges are non-scratch cleaning pads. They are very useful for tons of household cleaning tasks. Once again, their versatility is their strongest point. You can use these sponges to clean stick pans without scratching them, but you can also scrub your cast iron pans without falling apart after only a few uses.

Dry Sponges

  • Best For: dust, pet hair, soot, mold, and other stubborn dirt, wallpaper, painted metal and wood surfaces, and fabrics. 
  • Do Not Use On: sensitive surfaces such as works of art on paper and books

Dry sponges are made of vulcanized natural rubber. These sponges are made to be used dry, as the materials that they use keep the sponge moist in the packaging. Dry Sponges are a fantastic alternative to clean delicate surfaces that cannot tolerate moisture and water.

Melamine Foam Sponges

  • Best For: removing crayons, marker pens, built-up grease, baked-on stains, and tough grime.
  • Do Not Use On: the paint of a car, or any delicate/glossy surface

A favorite of parents, melamine foam sponges is a savior when it comes to cleaning crayons and pencil marks on the walls. These sponges only need water to work effectively as the material acts like a porous, super-fine sandpaper. So all you have to do is get the sponge damp and start cleaning. 

There are different versions of melamine foam sponges depending on your cleaning needs.

Microfiber Cloths 

  • Best For: stainless steel surfaces, glasses, mirrors, kitchen and bathroom surfaces, 
  • Do Not Use On: hot surfaces or with hot water as it can melt the fibers

Microfiber cloths are another of the most common types of cleaning sponges for household cleaning. They are made of synthetic materials and can pick up dirt, dust, and even oil. Microfiber cloths offer a huge advantage and that’s that you can use them both dry and damp. 

Thanks to their soft fabric, you can also use microfiber cloths to clean delicate surfaces without scratching or damaging them.

Sea Sponges 

  • Best For: removing organic matter (dirt, oils, grease) as well as germs from surfaces. 
  • Do Not Use On: surfaces or items that you need to clean with bleach products as they will attack the fiber of the sponge, causing it to breakdown

As the name suggests, sea sponges are natural sponges harvested from the ocean. Sea sponges are commonly sold and used for bathroom use thanks to their exfoliating properties. However, sea sponges are multipurpose and work great for certain household tasks. The only downside is that, unlike their counterparts, sea sponges are more expensive and hard to find. 

As you can see, there are lots of choices – but there’s also a sponge for whatever you need to clean. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed and want to leave this decision and the cleaning to a professional, we’re here to help.


  • Jacob W. Bailey

    Jacob is the Cleveland-based founder and CEO of Summit Maids, a local cleaning company with a mission to make a mark on its community by providing good jobs to more than 1,000 people.