Do you need separate cleaning products for the bathroom and the kitchen? What's the best bathroom cleaner for getting rid of soap scum from your tub? Do you need disinfectants for the toilet bowl?
There are literally hundreds of household cleaners on your grocery store's shelves to choose from.
This guide will explain the best household cleaners for use all around your home - and which surfaces to use them on.
Take a look at the surfaces around your house. Is there cooking grease on the stove? Mildew on the shower door? A rust stain around the tub fixture?
Identifying the dirt you see and anticipating the germs you don't are the first steps to determining which products you'll need to get the jobs done right without damaging the surfaces.
Product labels are your best source of information. All-purpose cleaner; oven cleaner; tub, sink, and tile cleaner - the name usually says exactly what the product will do.
If the name doesn't tell you, the label on the back will. Here you'll find the types of soils and surfaces the product can - or can't - be used on.
Next, consider your style of cleaning. Are you a once-a-month, bucket-wielding cleaner? If so, you'll want to stock up on the heavy-duty cleaners designed to tackle tough dirt and grime.
If you prefer more frequent, quick cleanups - the simplest way to keep cleaning time to the absolute minimum - the mild all-purpose cleaners and a couple of site-specific cleaners, such as a toilet-bowl disinfectant and a tub, sink, and tile cleaner, are all you'll need to keep the surfaces in your home sparkling.
For those who prefer "natural" or environmentally friendly substitutes, the choices are mushrooming.
Not only are suppliers creating new earth-friendly cleaners, but traditional products are containing more natural ingredients.
An alternative list of cleaning products might include:
A few things to consider when choosing between so-called natural and synthetic products: Whether naturally or artificially derived, all ingredients - even water - are chemicals. There are no nontoxic substances.
Even salt can be deadly if taken in too high a dose. (Also, some products - notably bleach and ammonia - are dangerous when mixed. Read and follow precautions on all product labels.)
Store-bought household products are required to meet standards for safe disposal down your drain, but alternative cleaning products aren't evaluated in that context.
Commercial products consistently outperform their home-mixture counterparts. Homemade cleaners generally require a great deal more time and elbow grease.
The single exception is home-mixed glass cleaner: 1/4 cup (60ml) of vinegar in 3 and 3/4 cups (900ml) of warm water.
Once you've assembled your cleaning products, build a user-friendly tool kit.
The following items will maximize the effectiveness of your cleaners - and will minimize your scrubbing time: