Here is a list of the best household cleaning products including what they do, which are most effective at various types of cleaning and how to use less!
The Best Household Cleaning Products
Until now, I had never been able to understand why there was so much confusion about cleaning products, particularly about which products to use and where and when to use them, so I decided to do some research on the Internet myself. Even though I have many years of cleaning experience, including being professionally trained, my head was reeling 15 minutes into my reading. That was when I decided to take a different approach. (What else is new? ) : ) I decided to start by explaining exactly what the products do and hopefully that will give a clearer idea about where and when to use them.
Before you decide which product to use, consider what you will be cleaning. Then pick which product will work best for that cleaning category. Some products can be used in all 4 categories.
Most things fall into 4 cleaning categories:
- Things that are dirty, dusty or sticky
- Things that need disinfecting
- Things that have mineral build up
- Things that are greasy or smudged
Dish detergent (soap)
If I was on a desert island and could only have one cleaning product, I would probably choose dish detergent. Hot soapy water and some elbow grease clean virtually everything very well. Many people are confused about soap or dish detergent and water.
It is not the hot water that kills most of the germs but the soap and the rubbing action from scrubbing. The hot water does help loosen grease and food which, in turn, helps the soap work, but it isn’t what is killing the bacteria. In order for the hot water to kill bacteria you would have to have the water way too hot to ever put your hands in.
No matter what product you use, the scrubbing (grandma’s good old elbow grease) is what takes care of most germs.
The first time I really realized just how good soap, water and scrubbing worked was when my granddaughter was born at 29 weeks. The hospital staff didn’t want any germs at all in the neonatal nursery. What did they use? No, not a barrage of antibacterial products, vinegar or alcohol. They used soap, water and a scrub brush to scrub and scrub and scrub. They were very careful to make sure the babies weren’t exposed to anything so I concluded, if it was good enough for the hospital, it was good enough at home.
Exceptions to the rule.
Of course, there are a few times when you do need to use something a little stronger to kill off germs and that is where disinfectants come into play. Those exceptions are the bathroom, sometimes the kitchen and when there is illness in the home. I always use disinfectants in the bathroom. I use soap and water in the kitchen on a daily basis but when I am working with a lot of raw meat, when there is sickness or just as a regular once a week practice, I use disinfectant.
Comet – Comet cleanser can be used on stainless steel, fiberglass, porcelain, Corian and Formica. The only things you can’t use it on are glass and ceramic tile.
There are other similar products such as Bon Ami and Bar Keeper’s Friend but I prefer Comet over either of these because the Comet disinfects and the others don’t. Many people use these products in their bathrooms and kitchens to clean, thinking they are killing germs when they aren’t. Bon Ami and Bar Keeper’s Friend only help with mineral build up and things like rust. Comet does all of that and also disinfects and bleaches out stains better. If you need a slight abrasive, then Comet is great to use.
Clorox – Clorox has gotten a bad rap mostly because many people have not used it correctly. One of the biggest objections many people have to Clorox is that when they use it, they can’t breath because it smells so strong. I can’t breath using vinegar either, especially if I use 100 times more of it than I should, and that’s how most people use bleach. If you’re struggling with an overwhelming bleach smell, you are probably using too much.
Bleach is still the number one disinfectant for killing everything, so if I am going to be in the hospital where someone has had an infectious disease, I would rather know that my room was cleaned with Clorox, rather than vinegar or something else that is less effective.
Rubbing Alcohol – I like alcohol a lot. Oops, maybe be I need to clarify that – for cleaning I should say. : ) Alcohol is a great cleaner when you put a little on a rag and use it to wipe down things like faucets and handles in the bathroom. It shines and disinfects in one swipe. Alcohol is as good as Clorox for disinfecting. It also cuts grease very well, where Clorox doesn’t.
Vinegar – For some weird reason, vinegar has become the god of all cleaning products. We have been led to believe that vinegar can do anything, but there is much it can’t do. It can’t cut grease as well as some other products. It is not an abrasive, so it is not useful for applications that need an abrasive, and it doesn’t disinfect as well as other products. It also smells awful. Despite that, there is nothing that works better for getting rid of mineral build up and water spots in the bathroom, kitchen and laundry.
I once heard a woman say, “You know Clorox is worse than vinegar because when you pour Clorox on weeds it kills them.” Ahhhh. Guess what I use for weed killer – vinegar. This just confirmed for me that so many people really don’t know the truth about cleaning products. They just are going along with what they see on Pinterest or something like that.
Vinegar is useful for some things, but it is no better or worse than the other cleaning products.
Baking Soda – Use baking soda when you need something abrasive, especially when you are cleaning glass or something you are afraid might scratch. Baking soda is not for killing germs, only for abrasion, and it’s great to use to treat mild mineral build up.
Antibacterial products work fine, but they are often more expensive than the other cleaners I mentioned because they are refined, made to smell lovely and their names sound impressive. They generally aren’t any better at cleaning than the other products. They just cost more.
Essential oils – I don’t usually use these for cleaning for two reasons:
First, essential oils tend to be substantially more expensive than regular cleaners. I would much rather spend my money on other things. There are many cleaners that are just as good or better at cleaning, but cost much less money.
Second, I know essential oils have their place but there have not been as many good studies on them to make me really confident about what they do and how they should be used. If you notice, most of the time they say things like, “may help with this” or “could do this or that”. Like I said, if I was in the hospital, I would feel much better if my room where an infectious person had been treated before me was cleaned with Clorox rather than Tea tree oil.
Use Care With Concentrated Cleaning Products
Be careful when using concentrated cleaners, detergents or anything concentrated. Yes it may reduce the amount of packaging in the environment and at times it might cost less, but be careful. Most people tend not to take into account the fact that the product is concentrated and use the same amount or only a little less than they would have used of the regular cleaners or detergents. In addition to paying attention to this yourself, you’ll also need to recognize that husbands and kids usually just dump the product on a rag and don’t pay attention to the fact it is concentrated, either.
To help with this problem, when you buy a concentrated item, pour it into another container and dilute it down to “regular” strength.
I don’t pay too much attention to how much I spend on cleaners, detergents, shampoos, conditioners and other similar items because I use so little of these products I rarely have to buy them. A bottle of anything lasts me forever because I only use about half of the typically recommended amount.
Be careful about buying and using cleaners and other products in large bottles. If we have a large amount of something, most of us aren’t as careful with it, so we use more than we need and waste it. When we use a small bottle, we mentally adjust our minds to think, “I only have a small amount of this so I will be more careful so I don’t run out.”
Remember, companies are in business to make money. The more product they can convince you to use, the more money they make. That is why so many companies jumped on the “concentrated” bandwagon. The goal wasn’t so much to save the environment or be more efficient. Companies simply found that consumers would use the more expensive concentrated product as a regular product and they would make more money. So use any product sparingly to make sure you’re not overdoing it.
Here’s one other easy trick I use to save money on cleaners: I try to put the cleaning product on my rag and not spray it everywhere. I’ll still spray it on directly in places like the tub, but for most dusting, window cleaning and general cleaning, I spray it on the rag. Not only does it prevent me from having to spend so much time wiping off the excess, but it also reduces the amount of product I use. If you find yourself rinsing and rinsing to remove your cleaner, you are using way too much product.