Multipurpose cleaner buying guide: How to find the best multipurpose cleaner

How to find the best multipurpose cleaner for your household.

When choosing a multipurpose cleaner, you want to pick one that can scrub through the thickest grime, grease and dirt and which also doubles as a disinfectant. The best cleaner for you will depend on your needs and lifestyle, including your environmental concerns. We'll help you compare multipurpose cleaners so you can make the right choice to suit your own needs.

Multipurpose cleaner types

Most multipurpose cleaners typically come in spray form. Several brands also offer wipes, polish and cleaning block variations.

TypeProsCons
Spray
  • Many eco-friendly options
  • Many fragrance options
  • Eco-friendly options may not disinfect
  • Could be incompatible with wood and acrylic surfaces
Liquid
  • Can dilute it to suit your needs
  • Many fragrance options
  • Not eco-friendly due to packaging and transport costs
  • Fewer choices available
Wipes
  • Convenient for quick messes and on the go
  • Disinfectant properties
  • Not eco-friendly
  • Costs more
Polish
  • Makes surfaces shine
  • Eco-friendly options available
  • Leaves a protective layer
  • Not all polishes disinfect
  • Fewer products are available

What surfaces can't I use multipurpose cleaners on?

Multipurpose cleaners are generally not compatible with acrylic, painted, wooden, polished, varnished and lacquered surfaces. Although some products claim that they work with all surfaces, this may not always be the case. When trying a new product, it's best to test spray on a small area first to check if any discolouration or damage occurs.

How to compare multipurpose cleaners

Multipurpose cleaners could cost you from around $1.69 to $12.90 per bottle, depending on brand, model, bottle size and number of sprays per bottle.

Here are other key features you need to consider:

Soil removal power

There is often a compromise between a product that uses harsh chemicals and how well it can remove tough stains. However, are eco-friendly options that claim to offer powerful cleaning.

Disinfectant ability

Check the label carefully to ensure the product is sanitising and actually removing harmful germs while scrubbing, not just covering the problem up with a nice fragrance.

Ammonia free

Ammonia is widely used in household products; however, it is harmful to humans and the environment. For those with environmental concerns, we recommend you opt for an ammonia-free option. Ammonia is corrosive and can cause burns or irritations on contact with skin and even respiratory issues. This is particularly concerning for homes with young children and pets. Ammonia can also lead to algae bloom, harming aquatic life and polluting waters, and contributes to smog.

Phosphate free

There are many phosphate-free options that you can choose from, as consumers are increasingly becoming conscious of its harmful impact on the environment (it also causes algae bloom).

Greywater safe

The harsh chemicals often found in cleaning products can kill plant life, due to high alkaline levels, sodium and phosphorus content. If you recycle the water you use for cleaning your backyard (or don't want to contaminate your community waste waters), look for a greywater safe label when picking a cleaner.

Septic safe

Mild cleaners, which can be used without wearing gloves, are usually safe for septic tanks. However, if used in large quantities, multipurpose cleaners can still disturb the bacteria balance in septic tanks, so if this concerns you, opt for products that are labelled septic safe.

How safe are multipurpose cleaners actually?

You can find more detailed information about any product's safety in its Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). All products must have an MSDS which specifies the product's composition, potentially harmful substances it contains and its impact on health and safety. You can also find important instructions on safe handling, storage, disposal and emergency procedures.

Additional factors to think about:

Hypoallergenic

For those with sensitive skin or allergies, opt for fragrance-free products. Avoid those with harsh chemicals, including ammonia and phosphate.

Eco-friendly

For those who are environmentally conscious, you might want to look for products that are not tested on animals, are palm oil free, biodegradable and made from recyclable packaging.

Fragrance

While added scents in products can make your home smell great, it does not make it any cleaner. It's up to your personal preference which fragrance you choose.

Alternatives

Many multipurpose cleaners are unsuitable for wooden, painted and polished surfaces. Other store-bought options you could experiment with include abrasive paste, creams, bleach, microfibre cloths, cleaning blocks and powder detergent.

DIY recipes on the Internet often suggest ingredients such as baking soda, white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, borax, rubbing alcohol, salt and essential oils. These recipes may not be as effective as store-bought products. If you want to give these a try, start with a small batch.


 

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