On the Hunt: Stylish and Affordable Cleaning Tools


Something's been occurring since I moved into the new apartment. I've been going without. When you live in empty rooms, you become extremely conscious of what you do bring into them. Anal retentive case in point: For the first six weeks I lived here, I ate from one plastic bowl until Christmas, when my mother's gift of some Heath Ceramics plates arrived.    

Stylish laundry hamper

Therefore, don't be grossed out when I tell you I haven't bought a broom or garbage can yet. Rather, be impressed with my discerning aesthetic fortitude. And be sympathetic when I tell you that today I bit the bullet, walked three miles to Home Depot—confident that I'd find inexpensive, industrial-style cleaning tools that didn't offend my sensibilities—only to find my eyes nearly burned from my head by the hideous plastic brooms and dustpans lining the shelves.  


So I trudged the three miles home. Then spent the last five hours on this post. Discovery: If you live in the US and you want attractive cleaning tools, you have to order them online. Often from Europe or Japan. Almost always for exorbitant cost. West Elm's Market offerings are pretty good but honestly, I want dirt cheap goods to assist my dirty jobs. I rounded some up above, but I'm still not thrilled with my findings. Because let's get real. When you've just moved house and you're in a pinch, you don't want to wait for your $16 toilet brush to ship from Germany. Ach nein.

Shopping Guide: Metal Dustpan, Berea College Straw Broom, Natural Bristle Toilet Brush, Galvanized Tin Flower Bucket, Beechwood Step StoolMr. Clean Bliss Gloves (the only non-ugly rubber gloves I could find, and that's only once you remove them from the box), 10 Gallon Galvanized Trash Can. Images: 1, 2, 3.

  • http://www.bohemianvintageonline.com Mina

    This made me chuckle! I feel the same way. I’m on the hunt for a nice looking trash can for our restroom, but anything remotely nice is like $30!! $30 for a waste basket? I may need to resort to IKEA. Have you tried them?

  • http://profile.typepad.com/humphreyskathryn Kathryn Humphreys

    I was just bemoaning this the other day. I can’t bring myself to pay for the pretty cleaning tools and what I have is just depressing.

  • http://www.erindepew.com/blog Erin

    Haha I’m so glad that someone else is just as aesthetically picky as I am!

  • http://www.prettyhautemess.com Cori Magee

    Love this post. As soon as I get home from work, I’m throwing so much stuff away. Or maybe, after new things arrive from Germany…..

  • Bethany

    Try U-Line

  • http://www.tomorrowtodayblog.com rita

    ahhh i totally feel you here. i hate to bring anything into my home that i am not absolutely in love with but cleaning supplies are so tough b/c i want to be able to get rid of them every year or so. i’ve had some luck at the container store but a lot of the items i like don’t seem to be online – may be worth checking out!

  • Jeannette

    Given the cost (and availability) of some “stylish” items, most of us must make-do with more affordable cleaning tool “eyesores” for our apartments and homes.
    We solve that issue, somewhat, by storing these items in a closet, out of view. The one thing we splurged on, though, because it can’t be hidden away, is a stainless steel trash can in our kitchen.
    I get where you are coming from, and it’s ridiculous that there aren’t simple, well-made and aesthetically pleasing items available at reasonable prices, but one can become a bit too focused on the look of the tools and not just getting the cleaning job done.
    I’d rather spend the time/energy finding ways to make (often too costly for regular use) non-toxic cleaning products. And de-tox our home from all the products that are bad for humans and the environment.
    We can never afford the types of aesthetically pleasing items we’d like, given what’s available. So we shift our focus to the cleaning process and creating a healthy, clean home.
    It’s wonderful to be design-aware, but also a curse if it makes your life so difficult that you can’t be content with what IS available.

  • http://mollyunravel.tumblr.com/ molly h

    depending on how big of a waste bin you need, the KNODD from ikea is pretty cute: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/10218923/#/30218922
    i have the 4 gallon size and i find that with the amount that i recycle & compost living in SF, that it’s quite sufficient. and just $15.
    i like your industrial find too, maybe for my future on-my-own-again apartment…

  • http://wonderlustblog.blogspot.com/ Melanie

    Ikea has a similar, less expensive stool http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/60178887/
    Kauffman Mercantile has some great products. Good luck!

  • Meredith

    Great post! I have seen attractive cleaning tools, but never affordable like these… Also, if the Mr. Clean gloves are just plastic (like every other pair of yellow dish gloves), then you could easily scallop the edges… I think I’d smile every time I used them if they were scalloped.

  • http://www.blogcurator.blogspot.com dervla @ The Curator

    This made me smile, i do like that toilet brush. Almost too nice to put in my toilet :) I guess it has to be pretty but do the dirty work too.

  • jamie

    hardware stores
    not big box stores

  • Katherine

    Jordan Ferney talked about this on her blog, OH Happy Day. She has lots of links, they might be what you’re looking for. http://ohhappyday.com/?s=cleaning