The One Trader Joe’s Product I’ll Never Buy Again

published Feb 15, 2024
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Trader Joe's Retail Strip Mall Location. Trader Joe's is a chain of specialty grocery stores in the U.S. II
Credit: Jonathan Weiss/ Shutterstock

I’ll pretty much buy anything Trader Joe’s sells, even — especially — if it’s not a food item. Their Tea Tree Tingle body wash smells like heaven, their greeting cards are a steal for the quality, and their bouquets are filled with gorgeous flowers.

So of course when I ran out of sponges last year, I snapped up a pack of their pop-up sponges. They were $7.99 for 12, and they expanded from wafer size to full sponge size in water, making them feel like those dinosaur capsules I loved as a kid. I was thrilled to give them a whirl and avoid having to buy a new sponge every month or so.

At first, they were exactly what I needed. They were a perfect size, they didn’t shred or tear with use, and they’re compostable. But then I needed to scrub some dried-on oatmeal off of a bowl, and the honeymoon phase ended. The Trader Joe’s sponges don’t have a scouring pad, so it’s really hard to get tough grime off of plates or bowls. The dish brush we have did a fine job, but I’d much rather have a one-tool cleaning experience.

I had to use a lot of elbow grease every day (my apartment doesn’t have a dishwasher, so hand-washing is my only option), but I was committed to finishing out the pack. And then one day, my fiancé kindly requested, “Can we please buy some normal sponges for the hard stuff.” I couldn’t argue; even though he’d never been to a Trader Joe’s until we met, as a later-in-life fan, he had a point.

I ordered a pack of some heavy-duty Scotch Brite sponges, which are beloved by cleaning experts, and my fiancé, elbows, and plates immediately thanked me. I’ll still use the Trader Joe’s pop-up sponges on easier washing jobs — there’s no point in wasting sponges — but once they’re gone, I won’t buy them again. 

My love affair with Trader Joe’s is still going strong, but I’ll look back on their sponges as a former flame. After all, even GOATs have an off day every once in a while.