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8 Best All-Purpose Cleaners, According to Cleaning Experts

Tackle the grease and bacteria on your tables, floors, windows and more, plus options that disinfect too.

best all purpose cleaners
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We updated this article in June 2022 to add more information about each featured product, based on extensive testing done by the Good Housekeeping Institute, a new pick for best wipes, best with vinegar and best with bleach all-purpose cleaner.


An all-purpose cleaner is a space saver and an important tool in every home's cleaning toolbox. They are safe to use for tackling messes on a variety of surfaces across all the rooms of your home, from countertops, painted walls, floors, appliances, and bathroom and kitchen surfaces. The best ones will cut through grease and wipe up grime without tough scrubbing or leaving any residue behind. They are available in all sizes and scents, plus there are options with vinegar, bleach and plant-based ingredients.

At the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab, we test hundreds of products every year, from major appliances like washing machines and dishwashers to floor cleaners and vacuums of all sizes. When we test all-purpose cleaners in our Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab, we evaluate how quickly and completely they dissolve grease and other soils we apply to our wall, floor, countertop, tile and appliance test surfaces. We assess how easy they are to use and rinse off and how much streaking, film or residue they leave behind. Finally, we review the label for any appropriate and required safety warnings and other claims. These are the best all-purpose cleaners in Good Housekeeping Institute tests.

Our top picks:

After our top picks, stick around for an in-depth look at how we test all-purpose cleaners, plus a guide to what you should consider when buying one.

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1
Best Overall All-Purpose Cleaner
All-Purpose Cleaner
Simple Green
Simple Green
2
Best All-Purpose Cleaner with Vinegar
All Purpose Cleaner
9 Elements
9 Elements
3
Best All-Purpose Cleaner for Big Jobs
Multi-Purpose Cleaner
P&G
Mr. Clean
4
Best All-Purpose Disinfectant
Multi Surface Disinfectant
Purell
5
Best Scented All-Purpose Cleaner
Scentiva Multi Surface Cleaner
Clorox
6
Best Long-Lasting All-Purpose Cleaner
24 Hour Multi-Purpose Cleaner
Microban
7
Best Plant-Based All-Purpose Cleaner
All Purpose Cleaner
Seventh Generation
Seventh Generation
8
Best All-Purpose Disinfectant Wipes
Disinfectant Wipes
Lysol
How we test all purpose cleaners

At the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab, we've tested hundreds of all-purpose cleaners and continuously test new ones to update our recommendations throughout the year. In our last category test alone, we put 18 multi-purpose cleaners through rigorous performance and ease-of-use tests across a number of different surface types. All-purpose cleaners are scored based on how well they clean a measured amount of test soil from glass, stainless steel, painted walls and laminate countertops. We make note of any smears and streaks left behind on the glass surface and the time it takes for the cleaner to break apart the test soil after it is applied to the dirty surface.

Our ease-of-use tests include evaluating how easy the spray triggers are to press or the bulk all-purpose cleaners are to dilute. The label directions are also checked for clarity and for inclusion of safety precautions, spot test recommendations and first aid instructions.

What to look for when shopping for the best all purpose cleaners
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It can be overwhelming to make a purchase for something you will be using all around your home when you have hundreds of different options online. There are just a few things to consider when shopping for the best all-purpose cleaner for your home.

✔️ Surfaces: Although these cleaners have "all-purpose" in their name, not all can actually be used on all surfaces. These multi-purpose cleaners can usually clean most non-porous surfaces, but it is still important to make sure the surface you want to clean is clearly listed on the label. Even if an all-purpose cleaner says it can be used on a particular surface, spot-test the product on a hidden corner to be sure that it won't cause any damage.

✔️ Form: Most all-purpose cleaners come as trigger sprays, ready to use straight from the bottle. Others are liquids that you dilute with water in a bucket or basin. You can even find them in paste and wipe form. Which you choose depends on the job you need to do and which you find easiest and most convenient to use. Some liquid and foaming multi-purpose cleaners leave behind a soapy residue on the surfaces you clean. For these cleaners, wipe with a damp cloth or paper towel to remove the excess cleaner. Wipes are great for quick clean-ups of small messes or to use in your car interior.

✔️ Size: Small bottles of spray cleaners are usually best for small, targeted areas, like walls, counters and stovetops, while larger bottles that can be diluted are well-suited for big jobs and cleaning large areas, like floors and outdoor furniture. Plus, purchasing a bigger size of your favorite all-purpose cleaner is easier — both on your pocket and the environment — than buying smaller bottles more often.

Do all-purpose cleaners kill germs and disinfect?

Some do, but not all. Keep in mind that any cleaning and wiping method will physically remove some germs from a surface, but to kill them, specific ingredients are required. Sanitizing and disinfecting cleaners go the extra mile and are able to kill germs — usually bacteria and viruses — on hard non-porous surfaces.

Remember that a surface must be clean first before the sanitizing and disinfecting ingredients can work, and it must remain wet for the time required on the product label to be effective. Sometimes, this means you have to reapply the product if it dries too quickly. To be sure an all-purpose cleaner you are considering actually kills germs as claimed, look for the EPA registration number. It's usually on the bottom corner of the back label. That assures you the product is proven to be effective when used as directed.

Why trust Good Housekeeping?
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Carolyn Forté has over 40 years of experience researching, testing and writing about appliances like washers, dryers and vacuum cleaners, cleaning products such as detergents and polishes and tricks and tips needed to keep a home clean and organized. She oversees the work of the Home Appliances and Cleaning Lab, produces all the cleaning and home care advice for Good Housekeeping in print and digitally and has authored numerous special Good Housekeeping publications like books and bookazines.

Jodhaira Rodriguez has tested and written cleaning how-tos and tips as the home appliances & cleaning products reviews analyst at the Good Housekeeping Institute since 2021. She holds a B.S. in forensic science from Hofstra University and previously worked in an environmental lab where she sharpened the analytical skills she applies in her testing of vacuums, dishwashers, detergents and more.

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