The Best All-Purpose Cleaners to Make Your Entire Home Sparkle, Tested

The best all-purpose cleaners tackle germs, grease, and grime on a variety of surfaces. Here are the best ones on the market.

Best Overall

Mr. Clean Clean Freak Deep Cleaning Mist bottle on a white background

Mr. Clean Clean Freak Multi-Purpose Cleaner

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Best Bang For The Buck

Three Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner bottles on a white background

Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner

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Best Food-Safe

Two Puracy All Purpose Cleaner bottles on a white background

Puracy Everyday Surface Cleaner Packettes

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Versatile and effective, all-purpose cleaners save money by performing multiple cleaning functions. The best ones are environmentally safe and sustainable, removing grime and germs from countertops, walls, windows, floors, bathroom surfaces, and upholstery without posing any health risks.

With so many options available, finding the right product can be tricky. To take the guesswork out of picking the best all-purpose cleaner, we researched 20 popular options and tested the top 10. In this guide, we look at all the features to consider when shopping for an all-purpose cleaner and offer a list of options that quickly dissolve grime and work on a myriad of surfaces.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Mr. Clean Clean Freak Multi-Purpose Cleaner
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner
  3. BEST FOOD-SAFE: Puracy Everyday Surface Cleaner Packettes
  4. BEST DEGREASER: Krud Kutter Original Cleaner & Degreaser
  5. BEST DISINFECTANT WIPES: Seventh Generation Lemongrass Citrus Wipes
  6. BEST PLANT CONCENTRATE: Biokleen All-Purpose Cleaner Concentrate
  7. BEST DISINFECTING SPRAY: Clorox Clean-Up Cleaner + Bleach
  8. BEST SCENTED CLEANER: Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Multi-Surface Everyday Cleaner
  9. BEST STAIN REMOVER: Puracy Natural Laundry Stain Remover
  10. BEST FOR PET MESSES: Rocco & Roxie Pro Strength Stain & Odor Eliminator
Person with French manicure spraying Simple Green clenaer on granite countertop
Photo: Katie Barton for Bob Vila

Before You Buy All-Purpose Cleaner

Soap and water is an effective cleaner for many everyday messes, but for a deeper or more convenient clean, an all-purpose cleaner is a good choice. When looking for an all-purpose cleaner, shoppers will want to consider a product’s purpose, form, ingredients, and ease of use. Whether the product is environmentally sustainable and safe should also be a chief concern.

Commercial and industrial settings typically need strong disinfectants that contain harsh chemicals proven to kill germs. But households with young children and pets benefit more from all-purpose cleaners made with natural, chemical-free ingredients that don’t pose health risks. Many of these sustainable, all-purpose cleaners display the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Safer Choice certification on their labels.

Regarding sustainable options, aside from product packaging, we also encourage shoppers to consider the effect an all-purpose cleaner has on the environment after its empty bottle or container, for example, is placed in the trash.

How We Tested the Best All-Purpose Cleaners

Before selecting which all-purpose cleaners to test, we researched more than 20 popular options, looking at ingredients, customer ratings, and prices. We chose 10 cleaners that can meet a variety of needs. Eight of these products work on hard, nonporous surfaces, and two treat stains on laundry and upholstery.

To test cleaners intended to wipe away dirt and grime from hard surfaces, we used each product in our home for 2 weeks. We also performed tough-mess tests by smearing pasta sauce and oil on our countertops, stovetop, dining table, and wall. We let the substances dry and then used each cleaner to see which could best cut through grease and grime. We also evaluated versatility by using each cleaner on bathroom soap scum.

We applied our stain remover spray on a dirty white sports uniform with makeup stains and a shirt splattered with tomato sauce and oil. Finally, we tested our upholstery cleaner on a rug and sofa in a pet-filled household to assess its ability to remove lingering odors and stains.

Testing Stats

Products tested: 10
Hours spent testing: 5
Tests performed: 16
Average price: $12.80

Our Top Picks

Our top picks have passed rigorous hands-on cleaning tests. These products are among the best all-purpose cleaners available for multiple cleaning tasks around the home.

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Our Ratings: Ease of Use 5/5; Kitchen Messes 5/5; Bathroom Messes 4.5/5; Dirt 5/5; Value 4.5/5 

Product Specs

  • Purpose: General-purpose cleaning
  • Form: Spray
  • EPA Safer Choice certified: Yes (lavender)

Pros

  • Convenient Power Nozzle sprayer allows for targeted coverage or a large continuous mist
  • Multisurface cleaning formula is safe for kitchen surfaces, bathroom surfaces, stainless steel, and more
  • Pleasant lavender scent leaves the room smelling fresh and clean without being overpowering

Cons

  • Comes in multiple scents, but only the lavender-scented option is EPA Safer Choice certified

This spray from Mr. Clean is a safe and effective multisurface cleaner. Available in a spray bottle that’s equipped with Mr. Clean’s manual Power Nozzle, this product creates an easy-to-disperse large-coverage mist that coats surfaces from any angle. Users can pull the trigger to activate short or medium sprays or pump it for a continuous spritzing.

Mr. Clean Clean Freak is recommended for bathrooms, kitchens, stainless steel appliances, and (thanks to the Power Nozzle) other large hard surfaces. We first used it to cut through grease on kitchen surfaces, and it did a fantastic job. Its powerful cleaning ability and the fresh lavender scent made this one of our favorite cleaners that we reached for repeatedly. Aside from freshening up the kitchen, it broke down light soap scum in the bathroom, making it easy for us to wipe our showers clean.

This spray is available in a lavender, lemon, or Original Gain scent, though the lavender-scented one is the only option that has EPA Safer Choice certification. Rinsing is required on surfaces that come in direct contact with food. (Wiping clean with a damp/dry cloth or paper towel is appropriate for nonfood contact surfaces.)

This product isn’t available as a concentrate. Refill bottles are available to cut down on waste.

Get the Mr. Clean all-purpose cleaner at The Home Depot or Target.

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Our Ratings: Ease of Use 5/5; Kitchen Messes 5/5; Bathroom Messes 4/5; Dirt 5/5; Value 4.5/5 

Product Specs

  • Purpose: Heavy-duty and general-purpose cleaning, degreasing, and stain removal
  • Form: Concentrate/spray
  • EPA Safer Choice certified: Yes

Pros

  • Can be used full strength as a heavy-duty cleaner or diluted for general purpose or light cleaning
  • Suitable for many hard and soft surfaces, including carpets and vehicles
  • Economical option when diluted; 1:10 dilution ratio for general-purpose cleaning

Cons

  • Not safe for all surfaces, including suede, leather, opals, or pearls, and only safe for light cleaning on wood furniture, floors, and glass
  • A separate, empty bottle is required to make a diluted general-purpose cleaning spray

The Simple Green all-purpose cleaner is suitable for both hard and soft surfaces, including counters, floors, appliances, carpets, and fabrics. This concentrate, which comes in a spray bottle, can be used at full strength for really tough cleaning jobs or diluted to create a general-purpose or light-duty cleaner. Though it isn’t safe to use on certain materials such as suede, leather, opals, or pearls, it’s suitable for most surfaces.

Beyond just cleaning, this versatile product can also degrease surfaces and remove stains. We used it to tackle dried-on cooking oil on several surfaces, including a wall with semi-gloss paint, a wood table, a glass induction stovetop, and a laminate countertop. It cut through grease quickly, allowing us to wipe it off every surface with a paper towel. This cleaner performed just as well on food splatters, leaving our kitchen counters clean and streak-free.

Simple Green was also able to cut through soap scum. We sprayed it undiluted on a dirty shower surround and let it sit for a minute. When we wiped the shower, all the light soap scum came off with minimal scrubbing. Though powerful, this cleaner is a safe choice for most households: it’s biodegradable, septic-safe, and is EPA Safer Choice certified.

It’s available in sassafras, lemon, and lavender scents that leave a pleasant smell after cleaning.

Get the Simple Green all-purpose cleaner at Amazon (pack of 3) or The Home Depot.

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Our Ratings: Ease of Use 4.5/5; Kitchen Messes 4.5/5; Bathroom Messes 3/5; Dirt 5/5; Value 5/5 

Product Specs

  • Purpose: General-purpose cleaning
  • Form: Concentrate/spray
  • EPA Safer Choice certified: No

Pros

  • Safe for almost all household surfaces, including plastic, wood, metal, and glass
  • Natural formula is safe around kids and pets and for use on food-contact surfaces
  • Pleasant green-tea-and-lime or organic-lemongrass scents available in the concentrated packettes

Cons

  • Must purchase Puracy’s Infinity glass spray bottle separately (or use a different 16-ounce bottle)
  • Can be difficult to empty packets into a spray bottle without spillage

Puracy’s plant-based formula is safe for use around kids and pets. It’s biodegradable, vegan, hypoallergenic, nontoxic, and never tested on animals. It’s intended to work on most solid surfaces in a home, including kitchen countertops, appliances, showers, toilets, floors, toys, smartphones, and tablets.

To get a feel for its versatility, we tried this cleaner on numerous surfaces. It cleaned countertops (even greasy ones), kitchen cabinets, and a dirty dining table without issue. We were most impressed, however, by this product’s ability to clean stainless steel and glass. We sprayed it on our stainless steel appliances, wiped it in the direction of the grain, and buffed it with a soft towel. It left our appliances looking pristine, cleaning better than most specialty stainless steel cleaners we’ve tried. It also worked well on glass, including a toothpaste-splattered mirror.

Unfortunately, Puracy Everyday cleaner didn’t fare quite as well in the bathroom. It was suitable for light cleanup but wasn’t able to remove soap scum from our shower. Since it’s not a disinfectant, we didn’t use it on our toilets. Overall, the pleasant scent and versatile cleaning power make Puracy a great eco-friendly all-purpose cleaner. However, you may need something stronger to tackle tough bathroom messes.

Get the Puracy Everyday all-purpose cleaner at Amazon and Puracy.

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Our Ratings: Ease of Use 5/5; Kitchen Messes 5/5; Bathroom Messes 4/5; Dirt 5/5; Value 3.5/5 

Product Specs

  • Purpose: Heavy-duty and general-purpose cleaning, degreasing, and removing stains
  • Form: Concentrate/spray
  • EPA Safer Choice certified: Yes

Pros

  • 3 concentration levels make it suitable for a variety of indoor and outdoor surfaces
  • Water-based, nontoxic, and biodegradable formula is EPA Safer Choice certified
  • Cuts through grease and oil; works as a laundry presoak and as an all-purpose spray

Cons

  • Still requires a bit of scrubbing for tough messes or heavy soap scum

It can be hard to clean grease and oil off surfaces, but Krud Kutter’s all-purpose cleaner does the job without a long list of harsh solvent ingredients. It wiped away dried-on cooking oil from our test surfaces, leaving them clean and streak-free. It’s also suitable for tough soils, including grime, wax, adhesives, and stains.

We used it to clean the kitchen and were impressed with its ability to cut through cooking messes and stuck-on food. It also fared well in the bathroom, leaving our chrome faucets and shower heads sparkling clean. Unfortunately, it wasn’t able to tackle the heavy soap scum in our shower, but it did remove light layers.

This product is safe for use indoors and outdoors on most hard surfaces, carpets, fabrics, and even concrete and metal. It can be used at full strength to remove grime, buildup, and grease or diluted to use as an everyday general-purpose cleaner. It’s also suitable as a laundry presoak when diluted at an all-purpose strength. The lightly scented water-based formula is EPA Safer Choice certified, using gentler biodegradable ingredients to get rid of crud.

Get the Krud Kutter all-purpose cleaner at Amazon, Lowe’s, or The Home Depot.

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Our Ratings: Ease of Use 5/5; Kitchen Messes 4/5; Bathroom Messes 4/5; Dirt 5/5; Value 3.5/5 

Product Specs

  • Purpose: General-purpose cleaning and disinfecting
  • Form: Wipes
  • EPA Safer Choice certified: No

Pros

  • Natural active ingredient cleans and disinfects against germs and viruses
  • No rinsing required; safe for food contact surfaces like kitchen counters and cutting boards
  • Wipes are convenient for cleaning up quick messes and wiping down bathrooms

Cons

  • Strong, distinct scent that not everyone will like; smell lingers on hands

These wipes from Seventh Generation are one of the few products on the market that offer natural disinfecting. Instead of a harsh active ingredient such as bleach, its active disinfecting ingredient is thymol, a component of essential oil extracted from thyme. Thymol is one of the only natural disinfectant cleaner ingredients present in EPA-registered disinfectants. This product itself is EPA registered as a disinfectant, which means the EPA validates its disinfectant claims. These wipes kill 99.9 percent of the germs identified on the product label, which include influenza A, H1N1, and salmonella enterica.

We appreciated how convenient it was to reach for one of these wipes when we needed to clean something in a pinch or disinfect germy areas, like the toilet. Seventh Generation disinfecting wipes don’t require rinsing and are safe for food preparation surfaces, which made them handy for wiping down our cutting boards and kitchen counters.

The biggest drawback was the scent. Since the active ingredient comes from thyme, these wipes smell similar to store-bought Italian seasoning, and our home (and hands) carried this smell after use.

Get the Seventh Generation all-purpose cleaner at Amazon (3-pack) or Target.

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Our Ratings: Ease of Use 5/5; Kitchen Messes 4.5/5; Bathroom Messes 4/5; Dirt 5/5; Value 4.5/5 

Product Specs

  • Purpose: General-purpose cleaning and degreasing
  • Form: Concentrate
  • EPA Safer Choice certified: Yes

Pros

  • Highly concentrated formula makes up to 32 gallons of all-purpose cleaner
  • Made of biodegradable, mostly plant-derived ingredients and free of harsh chemicals
  • Suitable for all water-safe surfaces, including carpet and upholstery

Cons

  • Best suited for light jobs; not as effective on tough messes or soap scum

Biokleen’s all-purpose cleaner has no artificial ingredients, fragrance, colors, or preservatives. Its eco-friendly cleaning power comes from plant-based surfactants with citrus and grapefruit-seed extracts, so there are no harsh chemicals or fumes. One 32-fluid-ounce concentrated bottle of Biokleen can make up to 32 gallons of all-purpose cleaner. Users can also make the solution stronger if desired by mixing anywhere from 1 to 3 capfuls of concentrate per gallon of water.

During testing, Biokleen effectively cleared regular household dirt and small food messes while leaving behind a light citrus scent. It worked well as an everyday cleaner in the kitchen, and we used it to spritz our countertops, glass cooktop, and kitchen table after meals. We also used it on our stainless steel, and it left our appliances smudge-free and shiny.

This gentle all-purpose cleaner is safe for most nonporous surfaces and water-safe fabrics. While we appreciate the versatility, Biokleen didn’t do as well tackling tougher messes like dried-on pasta sauce or soap scum. Since it doesn’t disinfect, we didn’t use it on our toilets or other germy areas. We think it’s a good daily cleaner, but you’ll likely need something stronger to tackle the big jobs.

Get the Biokleen all-purpose cleaner at Amazon (12-pack) or Biokleen.

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Our Ratings: Ease of Use 4.5/5; Kitchen Messes 4.5/5; Bathroom Messes 5/5; Dirt 5/5; Value 5/5 

Product Specs

  • Purpose: Multisurface cleaning and disinfecting
  • Form: Spray
  • EPA Safer Choice certified: No

Pros

  • Disinfects common germs and viruses in as little as 30 seconds
  • Safe for many nonporous surfaces, including glazed porcelain and ceramic, plastic laminate, fiberglass, and enamel
  • Can remove multiple types of stains and brighten white surfaces, like showers and tubs

Cons

  • Utilizes sodium hypochlorite as its active ingredient; high exposure levels can negatively impact health
  • May not be safe for delicate surfaces like natural stone; can bleach upholstery and clothing

While we like to use gentle, nontoxic cleaners as much as possible, some jobs call for something stronger, like Clorox Clean-Up Cleaner with bleach. This multisurface spray is safe for numerous hard, nonporous surfaces such as glazed porcelain and ceramic tile, Corian, plastic laminate, fiberglass, and enamel. It disinfects in as little as 30 seconds, killing viruses such as SARS-COV-2, influenza A-2, Escherichia coli, and rhinovirus. It can also remove allergens like pet dander and dust mite particles when sprayed on a hard surface and left to sit for at least 3 minutes.

The Clorox spray came in handy when it was time to clean our bathroom. The other cleaners we tried cleared light soap scum, but none wiped away the heavier spots. To test this product, we sprayed it on our shower and bathtub, and within 30 seconds, the surround was brightening and the soap scum started to fade away. We let the bleach work for a few minutes, scrubbed the stubborn areas, and rinsed to reveal an immaculate tub. We also used the spray to disinfect our toilet, laminate countertops, and sink.

Clorox Clean-Up wasn’t our favorite product for the kitchen, primarily due to the harsh chemical smell. It also required rinsing after use, adding another step to our cleaning routine. It did a good job of breaking down food stains and disinfecting, but it wouldn’t be our top choice as a daily cleaner.

Get the Clorox all-purpose cleaner at Amazon (3-pack), The Home Depot, or Target.

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Our Ratings: Ease of Use 5/5; Kitchen Messes 4.5/5; Bathroom Messes 4/5; Dirt 5/5; Value 5/5

Product Specs 

  • Purpose: General-purpose cleaning
  • Form: Spray
  • EPA Safer Choice certified: No

Pros

  • Gentle cleaner made with mostly plant-derived ingredients, essential oils, and a cruelty-free formula
  • Comes in dozens of fragrant scents (some seasonal), making it easy to find a favorite
  • Cost-effective all-purpose cleaner with concentrate option available for refills

Cons

  • Ideal for light cleaning; doesn’t disinfect and not effective on all types of stains

This sprayable cleaner from Mrs. Meyer’s blasts household dirt and leaves a home smelling fresh with the scent of the lemon verbena herb. Use this cleaner to remove dirt and grime from a variety of nonporous surfaces, such as porcelain tile, laminate, synthetic stone, and bathroom fixtures. The plant-derived cleaning ingredients make Mrs. Meyer’s cleaner a viable choice for users who are wary of the overdependence of chemical cleaning agents.

Thanks to its great smell and cleaning power, it was one of our favorite products for daily kitchen cleanup. It left our laminate countertops streak-free, wiping away regular dirt, grease, and light food splatters. Since Mrs. Meyer’s is safe for all nonporous surfaces, we added some to our mop bucket and cleaned our hardwood floors with it as well.

Mrs. Meyer’s is made with plant-based ingredients such as essential oils and birch bark extract. It does not contain parabens, artificial colors, glycol solvents, or formaldehyde. This mostly natural cleaner leaves behind no chemicals or residue and is not tested on animals. While it doesn’t disinfect or tackle tough stains quite like chemical cleaners, it’s a top pick for kitchens, bedrooms, and living rooms.

Get the Mrs. Meyer’s all-purpose cleaner at Amazon or Target.

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Our Ratings: Ease of Use 5/5; Kitchen Messes N/A; Bathroom Messes N/A; Dirt 5/5; Value 5/5 

Product Specs

  • Purpose: Laundry stain remover
  • Form: Spray
  • EPA Safer Choice certified: No

Pros

  • Lifts stains utilizing a 98.95 percent natural formula with 6 plant-based enzymes
  • Suitable for all types of water-safe fabrics; removes fresh and old stains
  • Economical option; a single bottle can treat up to 500 stains

Cons

  • May not be able to lift all types of oil-based stains

Most laundry stain removers contain chemical solvents that break down set-in stains. Puracy, on the other hand, utilizes a natural formula with six plant-based enzymes. It works on all water-safe fabrics, removing fresh and years-old stains. The free and clear formula is cruelty-free, American made, and biodegradable.

We performed multiple tests to see how well Puracy could remove various substances. We started with a well-worn white cheerleading uniform littered with makeup, sweat, and red juice. Since the stains were more than 24 hours old, we followed the instructions, spraying each spot and allowing the garment to rest for 8 hours. After 8 hours, we threw the uniform in the washing machine with free and clear detergent and ran an extra rinse cycle. When it came out, there were no longer any sweat stains or odors, the makeup stain was gone, and the red juice spot was lighter.

We then tested this spray on fresh stains, wiping a large amount of pasta sauce and vegetable oil on a cotton and polyester blend t-shirt. After 30 minutes, we sprayed the stains, allowed the shirt to sit for 15 minutes, and then laundered our garment. Puracy completely removed the pasta stain but only lightened the area affected by vegetable oil. Overall, Puracy performed well, but tough stains may need repeat applications.

Get the Puracy stain remover at Amazon, Walmart, or Puracy.

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Our Ratings: Ease of Use 5/5; Kitchen Messes N/A; Bathroom Messes N/A; Dirt 5/5; Value 5/5 

Product Specs

  • Purpose: Stain and odor eliminator
  • Form: Spray
  • EPA Safer Choice certified: No

Pros

  • Natural bio-enzymatic formula removes stains and odors caused by pet urine, feces, and vomit
  • Safe for most surfaces including carpet, upholstery, laundry, wood, concrete, tile, and more
  • Gentle formula is chlorine-free, color-safe, and safe for use around kids and pets

Cons

  • Older, set-in stains may require a repeated application to successfully treat the area

Pet owners who reach for multiple cleaners to treat pet stains on carpets, upholstery, and hard floors will appreciate the versatility of Rocco & Roxie stain and odor Eliminator. This powerful cleaner eliminates stains and odors at the source thanks to its bio-enzymatic formula that feeds on organic matter. It’s safe for just about any surface, including laundry, most hard floors, carpets, pet beds, litter boxes, and more.

We tested Rocco & Roxie in a home with three indoor dogs, one of whom is still a puppy and in the midst of potty training. We used this spray on three soft surfaces: a pet bed, a couch, and an area rug. (We also cleaned the ceramic tile under the area rug with this spray.) We followed the directions on the bottle to treat the couch and area rug for deep odors and set-in stains.

First, we applied a generous amount of spray to the urine spots, allowing the cleaner to sit for 1 hour, and then placed a towel and heavy object on the stains to wick away the moisture. We rechecked the treated areas the next day once they were dry, and to our surprise, the stains and odors were completely gone. We treated the pet bed for only 60 minutes, and again, it removed the odors and stains.

Get the Rocco & Roxie stain and odor remover at Amazon or Target.

Or, DIY Your Own All-Purpose Cleaner 

There are plenty of benefits to making a DIY all-purpose cleaner. Compared with store-bought cleaners, DIY cleaners can be cheaper, have a shorter and often safer ingredients list, and are more customizable to household needs. Our recommended DIY homemade all-purpose cleaner recipe uses only three ingredients:

  • 2 cups white distilled vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 10 to 12 drops of essential oils (lavender, peppermint, or eucalyptus)

Mix the ingredients in a suitable spray bottle. The active ingredient in this cleaner is white distilled vinegar, a food-safe acid that can cut through dirt and grime; remove hard-water deposits, soap scum, and rust stains; and kill some pathogens. Water dilutes the vinegar, making it safer and more pleasant to use. An essential oil of choice makes the all-purpose cleaner smell a little more pleasant. Even though vinegar has a strong odor, the smell dissipates quickly once the vinegar evaporates.

This natural all-purpose cleaner is great for everyday cleaning jobs. It will clean surfaces and also sanitize them to some degree, but it’s best to reach for an EPA-registered sanitizer or disinfectant cleaner to kill germs.

The Best All-Purpose Cleaners Options
Photo: Carol Benton for Bobvila

What to Consider When Choosing an All-Purpose Cleaner

The best all-purpose cleaners simplify cleaning routines, delivering effective, multisurface cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing power. To find the best one, shoppers will want to start by reading the product labels to make sure their final choice is safe and sustainable. They’ll also want to think about where the all-purpose cleaner will be used, as there are some things you can’t clean with an all-purpose cleaner.

Purpose

All-purpose cleaners sanitize and disinfect multiple areas and items in a home, from floors and countertops to stainless steel, glass, and trash bins. How harsh the ingredients are typically depends on what the product is meant to clean. Disinfecting outdoor trash cans, for example, requires stronger ingredients than a kitchen’s food-contact surfaces.

Some all-purpose cleaners are designed for quick stain removal. Others target larger areas that call for a concentrated liquid cleaner to help mop up dirt or grime. No all-purpose cleaner is optimal for every cleaning task, though, as ingredients, forms, and applications vary.

Ingredients

All-purpose cleaners typically contain natural or chemical ingredients that aim to loosen dirt, remove stains, dissolve grease and oil, and kill bacteria.

Chemical-based products typically have acids and other ingredients (such as chlorine bleach) that may be effective but are also extremely toxic if ingested. All-natural cleaning products—commonly labeled “green” or “eco-friendly”—are generally safer but can be just as harmful if they’re misused.

Most states don’t have laws requiring manufacturers to reveal all ingredients on their products’ labels. Shoppers will want to research products ahead of buying, looking for EPA certification, for example, rather than blindly trust any brand.

Form

All-purpose cleaners are commonly sold as:

  • prediluted liquids packaged in spray bottles
  • concentrated liquids that must be diluted for use
  • powders, gels, wipes, and aerosol sprays

Sprays are convenient and effective for daily use. A user simply sprays it on and wipes it off. Disposable wipes treated with antibacterial cleaner also offer a quick, convenient way to zero in on smaller surface areas that need disinfecting.

Concentrated all-purpose cleaners usually require diluting, scrubbing, and rinsing for optimal results, removing stains, dirt, grease, and grime. These all-purpose cleaners work most effectively with a little elbow grease.

Application

Multiple and varied uses are what make all-purpose cleaners champions on cleaning day. They remove dirt, grease, and grime in kitchens, bathrooms, playrooms, and other household rooms. Although most all-purpose cleaners are multisurface disinfectants, they usually work best on laminate, tile, glass, and plastic.

Spraying a disinfecting cleaner directly on an area, such as a kitchen or bathroom countertop, is the most effective way to disinfect surfaces. Using wipes on the specific area that needs cleaning works, too.

All-purpose cleaners containing bleach work well to kill mold and mildew and remove the stains they cause. Cleaners with disinfecting properties may be especially useful in showers and bathrooms. For the toughest cleaning jobs, a strong, concentrated, all-purpose cleaner might be the best choice.

Ease of Use

Because users can apply all-purpose cleaners to multiple surfaces and messes, they are easy to use, eliminating the necessity of carrying numerous cleaners around the house. All-purpose cleaners deliver tip-top cleaning results with minimal effort. Concentrated cleaners require dilution in a bucket of water and application with a mop, sponge, or cloth but generally cost less than more convenient options. Wipes and sprays offer the greatest ease of use.

Disposable wipes are handy in the kitchen, bathroom, car, and around the house to accomplish quick and easy cleaning tasks. As a bonus, some wipes offer antibacterial properties for extra peace of mind.

Additionally, prediluted all-purpose cleaners in spray bottles are easy to use. Diluting and rinsing are unnecessary with most spray cleaners. A user simply sprays the product and wipes it off with a lint-free cloth or paper towel.

FAQs 

This guide addresses many of the issues and concerns most shoppers have when they’re looking for the best all-purpose cleaners to use at home. Safety and sustainability are key, and many often wonder how to use these products properly. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding all-purpose cleaners.

Q. What is the difference between an all-purpose cleaner and a multipurpose cleaner?

All-purpose cleaners can be used on a wide variety of surfaces, such as glass, stainless steel, and floors, for example. Multipurpose cleaners only work on specific surfaces listed on the package. There are also specialized cleaners available, such as the best glass cleaners.

Q. How do you use an all-purpose cleaner?

For concentrated all-purpose cleaners, follow manufacturers’ directions for diluting and rinsing. For spray varieties, spritz and wipe with a lint-free cloth or paper towel.

Q. How do you clean carpet and upholstery using an all-purpose cleaner?

Start by removing any loose dirt from the carpet or upholstery fabric. Then follow the directions on the all-purpose cleaner’s product label.

Q. What is the best natural all-purpose cleaner?

Simple Green all-purpose cleaner and Biokleen all-purpose cleaner are among the best options. These products provide safe and effective cleaning without harsh chemicals.

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Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.

Meet the Tester

Katie Barton has over 10 years of experience in product writing, has tested dozens of cleaning products, and has authored hundreds of articles for major media outlets. Her cleaning and organizing advice has been featured on GOBankingRates, Realtor.com, Yahoo!, Cabin Life, and more. She takes an unbiased approach to product testing, using each product multiple times or for several days/weeks to determine efficacy. Her goal is to help readers decide which products are worth their hard-earned money and which fall flat.

Additional research provided by Carol Benton and Jasmine Harding.

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Katie Barton

Contributing Writer

Katie Barton is a home improvement freelance writer based out of Cincinnati, Ohio. She has been writing for the Bob Vila team since July 2022 and specializes in topics such as cleaning, organizing, and gardening.

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