Unitasker Wednesday: Flower Pot Bristle Brush

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

Each business and organization has its own culture — a mix of personalities and traditions and guidelines, which give the work environment a distinct feel. Since not all of the Unclutterer team works out of our main office, our culture is more collegial than authoritarian and we mostly communicate online. And, when I used the word collegial just then, I meant we spend a lot of time talking about kids and board games and furry friends and laundry and cool stuff we find online.

One of my favorite things about the Unclutterer team is that we all seem to have an eye for spotting unitaskers. “I have no idea what this is” is a common subject line on emails I receive. I get a few each week and I’m always giddy to open up the messages. For instance, this week’s selection was in one of these email exchanges, the Flower Pot Bristle Brush:

While people in other jobs are emailing coworkers about memos and reports, here at Unclutterer we’re discussing the difficult topics like Flower Pot Bristle Brushes. Our interactions cover vital topics as:

It’s a special brush to specifically fit inside a 5″-diameter flower pot. And, the fact that it fits inside just one size flower pot is a red flag, but in theory you could use it on larger flower pots instead of buying other brushes for your larger pots. So, it’s not the size that makes it a unitasker, though certainly something to consider.

Next, it was decided a brush to only clean flower pots isn’t what pushes it into the unitasker category, either. Although, you could easily use any other general purpose bristle brush for the same task and other tasks. You could also use a rag. General purpose bristle brushes and rags are multi-tasking wonders in comparison to a brush made just for cleaning flower pots.

Finally, what convinced us that this brush exists in the realm of unitasker-dom is the fact that its entire purpose — cleaning flower pots — is not something most people do. Flower pots, at their very core, should be dirty since they hold dirt. You buy flower pots and put dirt and plants in them and then throw out the pots when they break. If a plant that was in a flower pot dies, you remove the dead plant, add some more dirt, and put in a healthy new plant. Maybe, if the dirt was the wrong kind of dirt (say it was good for ornamental flowers but not for vegetables) you would remove one type of dirt, tap the bottom of the pot to shake out remaining dirt, and then put in a new type of dirt. In this case, you’re just doing a dirt exchange so cleaning isn’t necessary. But, as stated in the previous paragraph, if you do come up with some need to clean a flower pot like you’re worried about fertilizer contamination or something in a terra cotta pot (not an issue with plastic pots), multi-purpose rags or general purpose brushes along with a swirl of vinegar would certainly do the job and you don’t need to own a single-purpose brush for cleaning your flower pots. (But seriously, what weekend gardener cleans flower pots so often as to need such a specific brush?)

Oh how I love the conversations I get to have with the Unclutterer team. I’m so thankful this is as tough as it gets.

14 Comments for “Unitasker Wednesday: Flower Pot Bristle Brush”

  1. posted by Michelle on

    Clearly you aren’t a gardener. There is a difference between dirt and filth (filth potentially harbors disease that would kill the next plant). Never mind that you don’t plant plants in dirt, you plant them in soil. Gardening best practices have you washing the pots at the end of each season for this reason. Finally that flat brush wouldn’t work as well at getting the corners of the pot (hello scrapped knuckles and dirty corners).

    By this logic a toilet brush is also a unitasker – but we don’t mock it do we? Because it does the job well and we don’t really want to use that brush anywhere else (btw “toilet” brushes have other uses, but I keep them separate from the ones used in toilets). Maybe if you’ve never had to scrub a toilet you’d also mock the toilet brush.

  2. posted by Michelle on

    I think these are mostly used in greenhouse culture when pests/ disease left in the clinging soil could be a problem & cleanliness is important. Espec. if you had something like orchids (which would all likely be in special expensive 5in pots). As to using a multitasking brush/ rag what else would you clean with it after scrubbing nasty flowerpots? Like a toilet brush it needs to be reserved for specific use.

  3. posted by Michelle on

    Just to be clear that was 2 different Michelle’s. Sorta creepy.

  4. Avatar of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Michelle #1 — Growing up in a Kansas farming family, we called any soil not still in the ground dirt. If it’s in a flower pot, it’s not in the ground, so it’s dirt. You only say soil if it is still in the ground, physically attached to the Earth. You till soil in a field. You put dirt into a flower pot. But, if you were to pour dirt out of a flower pot and onto the ground … if it rained and got reacquainted with the ground, it’d be soil again.

  5. posted by Dede on

    If the bristles are nice and stiff, I can see where this would be a great help when I am having to replant alot of plants. It is very important to clean pots between plants, to stop disease spreading, etc. I didn’t realise that until I started cleaning pots and had plants stop dying. Not sure this brush is worth the price, but I do like the idea because most other brushes are not stiff enough.

  6. posted by OnwardsAndUpwards on

    Wow @erindoland, nasty, snarky attitude towards readers about the “correct” terms for dirt vs. soil. Not impressive.

  7. posted by EngineerMom on

    I’m also a gardener, and this is not a unitasker. I live in an apartment – my gardening is either container or in my community garden plot across the street, and I have a similar brush that is relegated to gardening purposes only. I wouldn’t use my toilet brush to clean my vegetables, and I certainly wouldn’t use my garden brush to clean vegetables I plan on eating raw. To prevent the spread of disease and pests, all containers must be cleaned and bleached (or at least thoroughly sunned if the plant didn’t show signs of disease) at the end of the season.

    Erin, you may have grown up in a farming family, but you missed the soil vs. dirt distinction entirely. The word “soil” typically refers to living topsoil, full of beneficial (and sometimes not-so-beneficial) microorganisms, earthworms and other insects, and actively decaying plant and other organic material. “Dirt” is dead soil – what soil would be if it were completely dried out and everything in it died. So you can have “soil” in a pot, and “dirt” on the ground, depending on how you’ve been treating the material in your garden or pot. You can turn dirt into soil by revitalizing it with compost, and you can turn soil into dirt with a drought (or forgetting to water that houseplant!).

  8. posted by mj on

    Germans have a specialty brush for everything! Visit the Redecker website to see what I mean. They do know their brushes though… the best.

  9. posted by Jeanne Thelwell on

    Not a unitasker and not useless. When you change what you have planted in a flower pot, it needs to be thoroughly cleaned first: scrubbed and soaked in bleach.

    Also, I agree with @OnwardsAndUpwards. Your tone toward your readers is sometimes just plain rude.

  10. posted by G. on

    Yes, it is a unitasker…and one I’d buy. As pointed out already, the reason for cleaning pots is to prevent disease/pests being transfered to the new plants. I’ve cleaned many pots, and tried many tools -rags, flat brushes (don’t clean the corners or bottom), old toothbrush bent (too small and hard to hold), bottle brush (flimsy bristles become useless), rags (don’t clean the hard water deposits). The only drawback I see is it won’t work on smaller pots, and I’m not sure how well it would work in square pots. If you clean 1-2 pots at a time, workarounds are OK, but when you end up saving them until either fall or spring and clean 20-30 at at time, a unitasker is called for.

  11. posted by michelle2 on

    In defense of Erin. Tone is hard to read in an online comment. It is also difficult to take rudeness & not give any back (sometimes real sometimes perceived). I personally would be offended if someone implied I wasn’t a gardener. I very much am and I don’t (shame) clean my pots sometimes I even (true confession) re- use the same soil! That being said there is no reason for anyone to put more rudeness out there. Rudeness is a uni-tasker.

  12. Avatar of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Onwardsandupwards — Wasn’t meaning to be rude! Just explaining why I used the word dirt and not soil. I figured our definition was a regional Kansas farming thing. Like how I write certain words and the comments are full of people saying, “WHAT does that mean?!” and it’s the first time in my life I realized not everyone talks the way I do :) (Anyone remember the time I used “drug” as the past tense of “to drag” and the comments were person after person letting me know “dragged” is the past tense? Still, “dragged” sounds SO WRONG to me! Ha!) Michelle, if my comment came across as rude, my apologies!! Definitely not my intention!!

  13. posted by Harry on

    If this is a unitasker, it seems to be a justifiable one. If I found myself needing to scrub out a flower pot (never have but I’m not much of a gardener), I would not want to use that tool for anything other than gardening. Since I’d be using a brush just for that, it makes sense to get a one particularly suited to that use (size, bristle stiffness, shape, and so on). Caveat: if it were insanely expensive I’d look for a cheaper alternative but it’d still be a brush whose only use is for gardening.

    Sidenote: I had no idea there were such firm opinions about soil vs. dirt. I guess it’s like stock vs. broth. Well, let the games begin.

  14. posted by Marie on

    Unitaskers are a lot less fun than they used to be, with all the whiners constantly lying in wait to defend some obscure product and its vocabulary. Chillax.

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