Best all-purpose cleaners on the market

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There’s no time like the present to clean your house! But when you’re ready to get spick-and-span, what are the best all-purpose cleaners to use?

Consumer Reports has a new tally that covers many popular spray cleaners and also a few liquid one as well. The real lesson from their findings is you get what you pay for, with limited exceptions!

But one caveat before we get into the list: You can make your own highly effective, non-toxic cleaning products using safe, natural ingredients that you probably already have in your cupboard. Baking soda, fresh lemon, pure soap flakes, salt, soap nuts, washing soda and white vinegar all have cleansing and scouring properties. See below for more details.

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Here are the best store-bought cleaning solutions

Consumer Reports only tested three liquid cleaners: Pine-Sol Original, Ecover All Purpose Cleaner and Fabuloso Multi-Purpose Cleaner.

Among them, Pine-Sol was the clear winner, scoring 74 out of 100 point with high marks from removing soap scum, lack of streaking and cleaning heavily soiled surfaces. It got the magazine’s vaunted ‘best buy’ checkmark, but watch out for that price tag of $6.80! Fabuloso, by contrast, got horrendous marks on soap scum, streaking and soiled surfaces, but at $2.10 it only costs a third of what Pine-Sol does.

Looking at spray cleaners, Seventh Generation Natural All Purpose Cleaner scored the highest of any spray on the tally — 57 out of 100. At $3.99, this product is mid-priced.

True bargain seekers might try other sprays like Target’s Up & Up All-Purpose Cleaner with Bleach with a middling score of 50 and a price tag of $1.89. Or perhaps Walmart’s Great Value All-Purpose Cleaner with Bleach for $1.88 and a score of 47.

One total oddball outlier in the tally was Whip-It Earth Friendly Miracle Cleaner Multi-Purpose. At a whopping $19.99, this product is sometimes sold by in-store product demonstration at big-box stores. But beware, it only scored a measly 38 and got poor marks on both soap scum removal and cleaning heavily soiled surfaces. That’s a true case of *not* getting what you pay for!

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Baking soda is a very common baking ingredient and is a naturally occurring mineral (sodium bicarbonate) containing many cleaning properties. When it reacts with fatty acids, it forms a mild detergent that can cut through grease. It is great for doing your laundry because it removes stains, softens water, and serves as a whitening agent.

Lemon juice contains citric acid. Citric acid is good for removing odors and stains as well as brightening whites. It can also be used to clean glass, impede mold growth, and it’s great at disinfecting toilets. It cleans bath edges and showers plus grouting on tiles. When used at full strength, lemon will remove stubborn grime at the base of taps.

Pure soaps refer to crystal-like flakes of pure soap concentrate. A natural and biodegradable washing agent, pure soaps are made from 100% vegetable oils and purified water. Using pure soap flakes and hot water with a little soda will perform almost all cleaning jobs in your home.

Salt is probably the oldest disinfectant known to humanity. A natural, gentle abrasive, salt can be very useful for clearing drains and cleaning stained kitchen utensils. Add it to baking soda and it cuts through tough grease. It can also remove burn marks from the edges of dishes as well as stains from chinaware. Salt and cold water will whiten a discolored breadboard but only if you use it as a scrub daily.

Soap nut is the fruit of the Ritha tree is a tree found primarily in India and Nepal. It is a wholly natural and completely renewable and biodegradable laundry detergent alternative. The shell of the fruit contains saponin, which is a natural surfactant. If you put 6 to 8 half-shells of the soap nut into a cotton bag and place in your washing machine, you should have enough for 4 to 6 washes. When the shells become darker and softer, it is time to toss them into the compost heap. You can also grind soap nuts and make a fine natural washing powder out of it.

Sodium carbonate is a natural product also known as washing soda. It is one of the oldest cleaning products. With a stronger base than baking soda, washing soda can get rid of strong stains such as grease, petrol, or oil stains on a garage floor. It can also be used as an extremely effective heavy duty cleaner for hard floors, painted walls, and kitchen surfaces. Although washing soda does not produce fumes in direct air, it is recommended to wear gloves and masks while using it as a cleaning agent.

White vinegar is a very versatile cleaning agent. It contains acetic acid that will dissolve calcium build-up in dishwashers, coffee pots, kettles, sinks, shower screens, and windows. It cuts through grease and soap scum and helps to carry away foul odors as it evaporates. This makes it an ideal cleaner and disinfectant for the bathroom and toilet.

Read more: Recipe: Homemade laundry detergent will save you money

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