Poorly Designed Kitchen Items

Not sure this is a whole topic, but I have to vent: Why is it that there seems to be only one brand (KitchenAid) of “fruit slicer” (a.k.a. apple slicer, a.k.a. apple corer/slicer) that is large enough to slice a large apple? Do all the manufacturers assume no one is slicing anything larger than a Lady apple?

What do you think is poorly designed?

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Let’s see – 99% of garlic presses, 99% of vegetable peelers, 99% of can openers, 99% of knife sharpeners… Those are my pet peeves.


There are so many poorly designed items. Now as a mature cook, I really look for tools that really help me. And I make a big effort to avoid a bad purchase that I’m going to be unhappy with by doing a lot of research. Just like Tanui says, for every good one out there, there are 99 bad ones!

How does one clean a garlic press?! (Or for that matter, a strainer or anything else with tiny holes.)

I use a toothbrush reserved for that sole function – ironically, about 99% of toothbrushes are well designed.


I got rid of my garlic press years ago but anything with holes/opening that gets immediately dropped into water comes clean perfectly.

I use the cleaning thingy that came with the press. Works very well.

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Like TanukiSoup, I have a tooth brush for in washing garlic press or teapot etc, very useful.

I’m very happy with my present Zwiling Twin garlic press, robust and the space is big enough to put bigger garlic. For cleaning, I can open up the whole thing to clean and since it’s totally stainless steel, if I forget to wash it instantly, I can soak a bit. My old press got rusty quick, and it’s not strong enough to crush larger garlic.

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Tea strainer, vinegar with toothbrush.
Bigger strainer, wash well with dish washer.

I have a inner part of centrifuge that I find it very difficult to wash, it’s basically a strainer with micro holes. I just stop making apple juices…

Wow! That’s exactly the garlic press that I use and love!

The articulated crushing mechanism is the same as that used in the Kuhn Rikon Epicurean garlic press that everyone raves about, but the handles are much more comfortable, allowing you to squeeze down hard without having the press slip out of your hands (especially when wet).

I also like the hinged perforated plate. It can’t come loose and fall down the drain or get misplaced. This design also makes it easy to clean the mechanism with a toothbrush.

Finally, as you mentioned, the stainless steel is truly stainless – no annoying rust spots in hard-to-reach areas, even if you don’t dry it off completely between uses.

I’ve thrown away (or given away) dozens of poorly designed garlic presses over the years. The Zwilling Twin garlic press is the only one I’ve kept. A true “one percenter” among garlic presses!

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Why does one use a garlic press? Just smash it with a solid knife. It’s easier to pluck out the green center shoot after that, and if you want to further dice it, it’s easy.


Can Openers. Agree especially!

Cheese graters - wish there was a way to keep fingernails and knuckles out of the grater.

Most of the Oxo GoodGrips items are very thoughtfully designed, although the handles on the ricer are somehow clumsy to use, which I thought was an odd lapse.

Garlic presses: mine is the Swiss aluminum-alloy one with the swinging plunger, and I’ve used it a lot over the last thirty years or so. I lost the cleaner thingy somewhere 'way back there, but simply soaking it for a while and then a bit of scraping and blasting it by pressing the face onto the faucet generally does it. Or a toothpick as a last resort.

I remember reading an article in which garlic presses were disparaged because they made the garlic taste “too strong.” This struck me not as a valid criticism, but as an example of gross ingratitude: would that person be offended if his bank began paying him more interest on his savings?

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Actually, I usually cut the garlic into 2 and get rid of the shoot, then the parts go inside the garlic press. Some recipes I dice my garlic, especially those involved longer cooking in the oven or pan.

But then it’s kind of vice that I’m addicted, sometimes in salad, I just add some tiny bits crushed, and it’s much better. I know some chefs talk about the press being disgusting, with juice coming out etc. But for me, especially marinating, I find the press quite useful.


As I mentioned above, I donated mine a few years ago. If I want SUPER fine I’ll use my microplane grater. Otherwise, yeah, just smash it. I really don’t like “uni-taskers.”

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Okay, this is way off topic, but if the extra interest pushes you over an income limit for a pension exclusion, a homestead rebate, or a loew Medicare premium, yeah, someone might be offended.

That sounds like the one my mother had. I took it when we were cleaning out the house after my parents died, used it once, cleaned it enough to donate it somewhere, and got rid of it. It takes a lot less time to smash or fine-dice the garlic than to clean the press!

In fact, that’s the problem with a lot of items (which started this thread in the first place!). It seems to me that many people fill up their kitchens and kitchen drawers with a lot of stuff of limited value, and then can’t find what they really are looking for.


@ eleeper – I actually have two seldom-used-gadget drawers, one for small items and one for larger ones, but the press stays at the front of the first one because I do use it frequently, and I want to know where it is all the time. I like it because it’s a one-handed tool and I don’t have to be near my very restricted Cutting Stuff area except to crack and peel the garlic. Most frequent use is for adding the garlic to the butter/oil/salt bath for vegetables fresh out of the steamer, and that’s needed on the hot tray which is nowhere near the cutting area.

As for cleaning, as I mentioned that’s so easy it’s never an issue. Besides, that’s an AFTER-dinner chore, when I have all the time in the world …

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I’m not sure I subscribe to the 99/1 theory, but I do agree a large percentage of most small cooks tools are not worth having. I also tend to agree that there is a VERY small % that functions really well, sometimes only one or two that qualify as best in class.

The bad ones exist because people don’t research the choice–they tend to impulse buy or get distracted.