* Prices may differ from that shown
A couple of months ago when it was my mother's birthday, a friend of hers thought it would be good to surprise her with an unusual birthday gift. Being the musician that she is, my mum has received gifts all her life that range from the unusual to the fun aspect of music merchandise such as those funny musically based tea-towels to flashing Christmas brooches that flash and ring out electronic songs that can never be turned off. Her friend had talked about it for ages, saying that it was probably an article that my mum had never seen before and how the gift would appeal to her on the grounds that my mum was a singer for many years before she married. We couldn't think what it was until the very day came and we all sat around the table with mum and her friends. The moment my mother opened the box, we all went quiet and just sat looking at the concept that is, the Diva Dish Brush.
Paladone, the home company who is responsible for selling the desktop Henry vacuum cleaner "toy," associated key rings or porcelain branded mugs, and then spun out the same for the pink "Hetty," version, are known for bringing out specific fun articles that the consumer will either love or loathe. I have a few Henry articles, not just being the stalwart vacuum cleaner collector, but in the last year or so I've been disappointed by a lack of quality, since fresh batteries don't even supply the same amount of power my old Desktop Henry used to.
Well, this time Paladone have concentrated in the kitchen area, notably the sink and how the general public can wash their dishes in a "fun", retro kind of a way. This has been highlighted by four "plastic dolls" in the form of figures mimicking styles like "Punk," "Beehive," "Diva," and "Disco." Sadly though, the Paladone Diva Dish Brush has met more negative controversy than good because of the type of person they have chosen to idolise - and early products carried the name "Diana," as a tribute to Diana Ross. Whether or not Paladone were thinking at the time that they wanted this product to act as an underlying message that Diana Ross could be a "scrubber," is unclear - but the thought didn't please us even if my mother's gift carried the newly improved name of "Diva," alone. Certainly when my mother and I looked at each other in horror on the day of her birthday, the look and the silence said it all! Paladone could so easily have designed a disco glitter ball in fake silver on a stick, or a microphone - but no, instead they have released a doll in the form of an all-plastic lightweight black singer/disco dancer dressed in a tight red long dress with a huge Afro that acts as the cleaning sponge. Although it was gift, this item costs between £4 to £8 online and at specialist gift shops that tend to sell other Paladone pieces.
Size wise, the actual Diva Dish Brush is about 25.5cm in height and a 3cm width in which she has a long red dress, arms to her sides with details such as a pair of silver blacked out shades. In terms of being a dish brush however, the actual product is pretty big because of the large sponge that has been permanently bonded on top with a circumference of about 7cm. The whole implement is very plasticy and has a sheen about it, even going as far as "Made in China," stamped proudly on the underside.
In terms of general performance there are a couple of weaknesses. Firstly. the Paladone Diva Dish sponge is like cleaning cutlery and dishes with a Barbie, Sindy or male-orientated action doll, albeit with a very lightweight feel and the body fits easily in a hand, usually with my fingers around the back and up the front just under the breast line, the slim and svelte body moulding easily to the hand for guiding the sponge into kitchen dishes and the like. If you have a spare doll lying around with longer hair, I'd surmise you'd get better cleaning performance out of it though, compared to the short-strand sponge that has been permanently bonded to the top. It isn't a clever design here because of the width of the doll and for the fact that the large black sponge at the top has the slightest texture consistency to it, able to sustain soap suds that tend to be able to moved around rather than soaked up by the sponge. Thanks to its general design, the sponge is not removable, thus not replaceable and the whole concept as a fun way to clean dishes and pans etc is anything but easy or fun.
Where the Diva Dish sponge works best is not as a dish brush used wet, but surprisingly when allowed to dry off, it's pretty good as a duster, especially for laptop keys, screens, general dusting and polishing and seems to be able to eek out any dust in awkward areas because of the pliable and flexible nature of the sponge. Sadly though the diva has a flat base, she is likely to fall over because of her thin body and it would have been better here to have a flatter and bigger foot size here for sinks that are generally ribbed for better accommodation when not in use.
Closer inspection of the Diva Dish sponge reveals that it is very easy for it to become clogged with food particles. It lacks the cheaper sponge consistency that you would find on Tesco Value (or similar supermarket versions) disposable sponges that work better not just by their rectangular design and the overall circumference of the large sponge head means the Diva Dish sponge may require more time picking off the bits of food that get clogged. If there is one area in which the sponge does excel in, it is cleaning thick tumbler tall drink glasses or "Hi-ball" glass because of the way that the round top can be swirled around the bases, but you have to forcefully push the sponge in so that it can be twisted around tumblers in order for the sponge to work. Grease and oil are two substances that this sponge in particular fail on and thanks to the soft nature of the sponge, there are no scourers added that would aid in removal of food particles.
Other downsides that this fancy sponge has is the increasing public opposition from Ethnic black groups, and it isn't hard to see why. Infact there's a whole load of information about this very article by the Daily Mail* and one gentleman who thought the whole concept wasn't clever, inciting that the actual product does have a deep, racial tone about it and does promote racism by its very design and release. I thought black slavery was over, but it seems Paladone, are quite happy condoning the use of using a black slave to clean your dishes - no matter if you think the product is fun or not and Paladone are promoting the product regardless of whether the public like it or not, citing that the product "has been a phenomenal success."
Awkwardly because of the cheap plastic, the Diva dish brush is also not dishwasher safe, and to avoid the high paint gloss from rubbing off, strong chemicals like bleach can't be used, creating a dish sponge here that can only be used with washing up liquid at best and at the end of the day, not exactly able to stand proudly as a totally hygienic implement.
Frankly, there are better dish sponges or brushes on the market that have been cleverly designed to inject a bit of fun when it comes to cleaning dishes. Handles that are painted in vibrant, loud colours to glitter added acrylics and multi coloured sponge foam or bristles further add to a necessity in daily life unless you have a dishwasher. To clean dishes with a retro Disco orientated black singer doll with a large Afro isn't my cup of tea and I find the whole idea insulting, deeply racist and should be avoided at all costs if you have a conscience. Paladone usually have a lot of products that you can love or loathe, but in this instance, the only place that this sponge cleaner has been resigned to, is dished into the kitchen bin. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2012.