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 is such a confusing array of specialized cleaning products on the market that it often seems easier to use the old tools and methods - or put off housecleaning altogether.

Nevertheless, it's time to come clean. But how?

Choosing the Perfect Cleaning Products for Your Home

The first objective is to choose the correct cleaning products for your home and the surfaces inside.

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 dirty you see and anticipating the germs you don't are the first steps to determining which cleaning products you'll need to get the jobs done 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.

Your Cleaning Style Will Determine the Cleaning Products You Need

Next, consider your style of cleaning. Are you a once-a-month, bucket-wielding cleaner? If so, you'll want to stock up on 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.

Here's a list of the essentials:

Essential Home 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

A Bit About "Natural" Cleaning Products

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.

Learn how to create a house cleaning schedule for your home here. 

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