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household cleaning products defined

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.

start by identifying the dirt you see and anticipating the germs you don't.

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.

consider your cleaning style when choosing cleaning products.

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.

essential cleaning products.

  • Nonabrasive, all-purpose cleaner, ideally in a spray bottle
  • Toilet-bowl cleaner
  • Disinfectant (try 3/4 cup [180ml] chlorine bleach per gallon [4l] of water)
  • Tub, tile and sink cleaner
  • A bottle of liquid dishwashing detergent
  • Window and glass cleaner in a spray bottle

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:

  • Baking soda with water, as an all-purpose cleaner
  • White distilled vinegar diluted in water, to clean windows
  • Borax, to clean and deodorize and to remove toilet bowl stains
  • Natural soaps (castile or glycerin-based) to wash dishes

choosing between so-called natural and synthetic cleaning products

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.

building a user-friendly cleaning kit.

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:

  • Cotton rags, all-cotton diapers, or white paper towels
  • Scrubber sponge
  • Large scrub brush
  • Rubber gloves
  • Squeegee

Ready to start building your cleaning products cache? Visit the Clean Organized Home Store to find the tools and products you need for the dirty jobs ahead.



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About the Author

Tara Aronson

Tara Aronson is a native Californian. Having grown up in San Diego, she studied journalism and Spanish to pursue a career in newspaper writing. Tara, whose three children - Chris, Lyndsay, and Payne - are the light of her life, now lives and writes in Los Angeles. She also regularly appears on television news programs throughout the U.S.