Big Little Scrubbies: Reflections on the Meaning of Life in the Kitchen and Beyond


An original Grandma D Scrubbie immortalized in our daughter’s kitchen

Most things in our kitchen I can live without. Take away my 12 inch Lodge frying pan or my rice cooker and I can find work-arounds to get the job done. Throw my charcoal grill under the bus and I will still manage to survive (albeit barely). Disable my dishwasher (actually that’s its current state) and the dishes will still get somewhat clean.   However, do not even begin to think about taking my scrubbies. As far as I am concerned, meaningful life in the kitchen ceases when the scrubbie supply runs out.

So, as I prepare to clean up following a meal, I am confronted by the question of why that little round thing in the sink is so big in my life.   The answer to that question has two parts — its extraordinary utility and its sentimental value.

Regarding the first part, the usefulness of scrubbies is undeniable.  For those who do not know, a scrubbie is simply a round pad approximately 4 inches in diameter crocheted with the kind of nylon lace that tutus are made of.  Surprisingly, I was able to find numerous web sites that demonstrate how scrubbies are made and used. Here is just one of them if you are curious. Scrubbies are a permanent fixture in our kitchen, as well as in our workshop and bathroom.  They not only do a job on pots and pans, they are ideal for scrubbing potatoes, carrots, or other veggies you prefer not to peel.  They do not scratch utensils and are tough enough to remove the most reticent of gunk.   Additionally, they are easy to rinse out and pretty to behold, adding color and pizazz to your countertop or sink.


Grandma D’s creations for her grandson, Travis

Beyond their utility,  they have a special sentimental value for me.   Scrubbies came into our kitchen relatively late via my mom — Grandma D to our children and us.   My mom, an accomplished seamstress and craftsperson, had a houseful of exquisite hand-made stuffed toys and dolls (sort of a fairy wonderland throughout her house). But as her grandchildren were outgrowing their love of teddy bears and stuffed dinosaurs, she turned to creating something more practical –  scrubbies, which I had never even heard of until she began giving them to family and friends.

I don’t know where she learned how to make them, but I do recall her sitting for hours in her favorite overstuffed chair cutting yards and yards of nylon lace into strips, then rolling them into balls, and from these colorful balls crocheting the coveted scrubbies. It became a family expectation to get scrubbies for almost any celebratory event.  These words from her obituary (she passed away in 2005) capture the essence of her scrubbies:  “These crocheted colorful pads, useful for an amazing variety of cleaning tasks, became her signature creation, prized by anyone fortunate enough to get one.” That was no exaggeration.

With each gift of scrubbies she included a printed message.  This is a photo of the last of these notes we received from her: ScrubbieBlurb

To be sure, scrubbies have made more than just our “day.”  They reflect the warmth, generosity, and wonderful spirit of my mom.  And, they clean like hell.

Post Script: we despaired when our original Gramdma D scrubbie supply ran out.  However, we discovered scrubbies are available via the Internet.   Try Etsy.

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