Dusty kitchen shelves? Accidental juice spill? A ring around the tub? It's time to reach for a handy all-purpose cleaner. That's right, all-purpose cleaners are formulated to remove all kinds of messes and stains and are typically easy to use and come in a spray, wipe, or gel form. We love these miracle workers because they easily tackle just about any surface—we're talking everything from counters, cabinets, tables, and appliances to sinks, tubs, and toilets.
To find the best one out there, we researched several all-purpose cleaners on the market, evaluating their effectiveness, ease of use, versatility, and overall value. So, whether it's a good ol' disinfectant or a cleaner with the best scent, we've put together a list of our absolute favorites. Grab your cleaning gloves, and check out our picks for best all-purpose cleaners to keep your home in tiptop shape.
Mr. Clean Clean Freak Deep Cleaning Mist
Power nozzle offers more control over spray amount
Antibacterial formula and disinfectant
Formula can be repurchased without nozzle
Certified as a Safer Choice product by the EPA
Not best for porous surfaces
Not safe for contact with food surfaces
Mr. Clean's Clean Freak spray is our number one pick because it's a multi-purpose solution available in a handy spray bottle that can be used everywhere from your kitchen to your bathroom. The spray is designed to coat your surfaces in an even mist from any angle. Smudges on the wall? Splatters on the ceiling? Those are no problem for Mr. Clean Clean Freak. To use this spray, use a short pull on the handle to spray the product in small bursts. Use a long pull on the handle for a medium amount of product, or pump the handle for a continuous mist.
This cleaner meets EPA safety standards as a Safer Choice certified product, which means it uses ingredients that are safe for human health and the environment. Plus, it powers through grease, grime, dirt, dust, and even tough, sticky residues. You can use it all over your kitchen, including on your appliances, anywhere in your bathroom, and on almost every other hard surface in your home. Not only that, but it also leaves a light lavender or lemon zest scent in its wake.
While this cleaner is fit for stainless steel, it's not considered safe for food-contact surfaces. We recommend either rinsing those surfaces before putting food on them and after using this cleaner, or choosing a different cleaner for those spots in your home. Overall, we think this product is a great option for any who's looking for a cleaner that can truly clean anything and leave a streak-free finish and pleasant scent.
Price at time of publish: $20 for 3 pack
Type: Spray | Amount: 16 ounces | Scent: Lemon zest | Do Not Use On: Copper, untreated wood, or brass surfaces
Lysol Clean & Fresh Multi-Surface Cleaner
Eliminates 99.99 percent of bacteria germs
Can be used concentrated or diluted with water
No spray trigger or application tool provided
Not safe for contact with food surfaces
This 48-ounce bottle of Lysol Clean & Fresh, when applied to hard surfaces, kills 99.9 percent of germs in a minute flat. It also cuts through grease, eliminates soap scum, and dissolves liquid messes throughout your home. You can use this formula at full strength to eliminate soap scum and grease stains, but it should be diluted (according to the bottle instructions) for other tasks like general cleaning and sanitizing.
This formula is best for non-porous materials, like acrylic, quartz, brass, stainless steel, glass, and glazed tile. Like many other all-purpose cleaners, you'll need to rinse any food-exposed materials with water if you use this cleaner to sanitize or disinfect them. Although we love the multipurpose design of this formula, we wish the bottle had a spray trigger or application tool to make cleaning slightly easier. If you're so inclined, you can easily transfer the solution into your own spray bottle or repurpose an old one.
Price at time of publish: $3
Type: Liquid | Amount: 48 ounces | Scent: Sparkling lemon and sunflower essence | Do Not Use On: Eating/cooking utensils, glassware, dishes or cookware, unfinished, oiled or waxed floors; test on inconspicuous portion of painted surfaces first
Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Multi-Surface Everyday Cleaner
Cruelty-, phthalate-, dye- and paraben-free
Safe to use on a variety of surfaces
Variety of scents available
Should be kept out of reach of pets and kids
Sometimes your home doesn't feel totally clean unless it smells clean. Besides eliminating messes, spills, stains, and odor-causing residues, Mrs. Meyer's Everyday Cleaner graces your space with a pleasant yet not overpowering scent. This natural, eco-friendly cleaner comes in all of the brand's signature scents, including lemon verbena, lavender, peony, basil, and orange clove.
It can be used in your kitchen, dining room, bathroom, living room, and home office on a variety of surfaces. We love this cleaner's clean formula, however we wish it was safer to use around pets and kids. The product description does note to keep it out of your little one's reach. The convenient spray bottle makes it easy to quickly clean your kitchen or bathroom's countertops. You can also purchase separate refill bags of their cleaning formulas.
Price at time of publish: $14 for 3 pack
Type: Spray | Amount: 16 ounces | Scent: Lemon verbena | Do Not Use On: Not listed
Best with Bleach
Clorox Clean-Up Cleaner + Bleach Original
Effective at killing viruses on non-porous surfaces
Smart Tube bottle ensures all product is used
Can not be used with other cleaning solutions
When it comes to bathroom cleaners, your best bet is something that simultaneously cleans surfaces and eliminates germs, like Clorox Clean-Up. This all-purpose solution penetrates hard water stains, soap scum, limescale, product residues, and other buildup while killing 99.9 percent of bacteria and viruses. On top of that, it's also a great all-purpose cleaner to have during cold and flu season, as it kills SARS-CoV-2 on hard, non-porous surfaces. We recommend using gloves to protect your hands when spraying this product. You should also use it in a well-ventilated area.
This cleaner can be used in other areas of your home, too, including kitchen appliances, countertops, and outdoor furniture. The non-abrasive formula will leave your countertops shiny and free of germs, plus the spray bottle is designed with Smart Tube technology, which ensures you can spray every last drop of product without having to tip the bottle. Just be careful not to use this cleaner in the same area you use vinegar or ammonia to clean, as those combinations can create dangerous chemical reactions.
Price at time of publish: $13 for 2 pack
Type: Spray | Amount: 32 ounces | Scent: Original Clorox scent | Do Not Use On: Prolonged contact on metal, old porcelain, and worn plastic may cause discoloration
Bar Keepers Friend Powdered Cleanser
Great at removing rust
Can be used on lots of outdoor items
Gentle abrasion helps with deep stains
Can be too abrasive for some delicate surfaces
You may recognize Bar Keepers Friend among your grandma's favorite cleaning supplies because it has been around for years. This household cleaner continues to be a reliable powder formula for almost every surface in your home's bathroom and kitchen. Aside from being effective at removing rust, tarnish, and mineral deposits, Bar Keepers Friend can be used to clean glass, ceramic countertops, porcelain, and acrylic bathtubs. It's a great polish for stainless steel sinks, and can even be used outdoors to clean your grill, remove plant grime from old pots, and more.
While this slightly abrasive formula is not best for all surfaces—the company recommends testing a small spot for plastic, fiberglass, and brushed metals—you can feel good about using its non-bleach formula to tackle stubborn stains on your home's non-porous surfaces.
Price at time of publish: $7
Type: Powder | Amount: 12 ounces | Scent: Not scented | Do Not Use On: Gold, silver, polished stone, or surfaces that are lacquered, painted, or mirrored
Stardrops The Pink Stuff The Miracle Cleaning Paste
Mildly abrasive to treat tough stains
Can be used on outdoor items
Easy to use
May scratch delicate surfaces
A degreaser is an essential cleaning solution for busy kitchens and bathrooms. The Pink Stuff is a thick paste that easily cuts through grease and grime to leave a shiny and streak-free surface. It's great for cleaning cooktops and stained grout or appliance fixtures. The manufacturer recommends testing any delicate surface before cleaning because this paste is mildly abrasive. To use it, you simply pick up a small amount in a soft cloth and rub it on the surface you're trying to clean. Allow the paste to sit for a few moments after it is rubbed in, and then remove it with warm water.
Plus, this paste is non-toxic, according to the manufacturer and vegan and cruelty-free. We love that it leaves behind a pleasant rhubarb scent that isn't too overpowering. Be sure to store this paste in a cool dry place to avoid drying it out.
Price at time of publish: $6
Type: Paste | Amount: 17.63 ounces | Scent: Rhubarb | Do Not Use On: Avoid delicate, painted, or soft surfaces
Branch Basics Basic Starter Kit
Option between plastic or glass bottles
Concentrate can be used for laundry
EWG verified and certified with MADE SAFE seal
Finding an all-purpose cleaner that's friendly around pets and children is a reasonable concern for parents. This eco-friendly starter kit from Branch Basics takes the guesswork out of understanding the ingredients in your household cleaning products. While the concentrate may seem simple at first glance, it can be mixed with different amounts of water and the oxygen boost to serve as an all-purpose cleaner, hand soap, and laundry detergent. This kit comes with five labeled containers—you can choose between plastic or glass bottles—so you know exactly what to reach for when it's time to clean your home.
Although this cleaner is more expensive than other options, the extra bottles you receive, and the added bonus of a laundry booster, make this kit worth the splurge. The concentrate is also EWG verified and certified with the MADE SAFE seal, meaning it has avoided over 6,500 harmful substances in its creation process. You can also subscribe and receive a refill bottle of Branch Basics' concentrate regularly.
Price at time of publish: $75
Type: Liquid | Amount: 33.8 ounces | Scent: Chamomile | Do Not Use On: Not listed
Best for Refills
Blueland Multi-Surface Starter Kit
Can set frequency of subscription
Each ingredients' purpose is explained
Not a disinfectant or antibacterial formula
Similar to Branch Basics, Blueland is another eco-friendly and consumer conscious cleaning company that offers alternatives to traditional cleaning solutions. Their Multi-Surface Starter Set comes with a reusable 24-ounce glass bottle and three multi-surface cleaning solution tablets. One tablet makes an entire bottle of solution and can be used to freshen up sealed wood, sealed stone, and other hard, non-porous surfaces.
Aside from their Leaping Bunny and Cradle to Cradle certifications, we love that this brand offers a customizable subscription experience, where you can choose the frequency at which you receive six additional cleaning tablets. While the upfront cost of the starter kit is slightly more expensive than other cleaning solutions, you end up saving money with the subscription service because each tablet (creates a 24 ounces of solution) costs just $2.25. Keep in mind that this cleaning solution is not a disinfectant or antibacterial formula because those ingredients do not align with Blueland's standards. While a subscription service may not be for everyone, we appreciate Blueland's minimal packaging and basic design.
Price at time of publish: $18
Type: Tablet | Amount: 24 ounces | Scent: Fresh lemon | Do Not Use On: Avoid soft and porous surfaces
Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds Biodegradable Cleaner
Safe to use around kids and pets
Easy to dilute
Can also be used for laundry
While Dr. Bronner's All-Purpose Sal Suds Cleaner may not look like a concentrate, this powerful formula can be used for everything from laundry to mopping floors. It's BPA-free, gluten-free, and made from all-natural ingredients so you can feel good using it around pets and kids.
To dilute this solution for an all-purpose spray, simply add 1 tablespoon of cleaner to 1 quart of water. Then, spray on countertops and other surfaces around your home as needed. You can also check out a full list of uses and dilution suggestions for this cleaner on Dr. Bronner's website. This concentrate is slightly more expensive than other options on the market, but we think it'll last you much longer than a standard bottle of all-purpose spray.
Price at time of publish: $15
Type: Liquid | Amount: 32 ounces | Scent: Fir and spruce | Do Not Use On: Not listed
Overall, our best pick for all-purpose cleaner is Mr. Clean Clean Freak Deep Cleaning Mist. The convenient nozzle allows you to spray it from any angle, and the superstar formula powers through almost any mess in your home. If you have pets or prefer simpler, natural formulas, you can't go wrong with the Branch Basics Basic Starter Kit. The gentle concentrate is safe for food contact surfaces and can be diluted to make hand soap, laundry detergent, and multi-purpose cleaner.
What to Look for in an All-Purpose Cleaner
When browsing all-purpose cleaners, you'll want to look for something formulated for a variety of materials and surfaces. "All-purpose," "multi-purpose," "multi-use," or a similar catchall term should be in the product name, on the label, or in the description. The formula should be versatile in that it works for many cleaning purposes, but also won't damage most materials.
Some abrasive formulas, such as powders and pastes, aren't best for delicate surfaces like brushed metals, or mirrored and painted objects. Most manufacturers recommend testing an inconspicuous spot of a surface, if you are unsure of the product's compatibility.
"All purpose cleaners are generally safe to use on all surfaces and are handy for those everyday messes that are bound to happen," says Christine McNerney, Senior Director of Merchandising, Non-Food, at Thrive Market. "If you are more concerned about protecting specific surfaces like granite or stainless steel, then I would recommend buying a targeted product which will be specifically formulated to keep those surfaces safe while effectively cleaning."
Just as how the formula of a cleaner dictates its use, the type of cleaner you choose also determines which surfaces it can be used on and how it can be used. Many of the all-purpose cleaners listed in this roundup are liquid-based and come in spray bottles. Powders and pastes are also great options for heavy-duty cleaning jobs. Plus, you'll also find some formulas that are concentrates, meaning they should be diluted with water before being used.
Spray cleaners are a great option if you're looking for an easy, everyday cleaner. It's not a bad idea to also have an all-purpose powder or paste in your cleaning cabinet for tough stains or greasy messes. But be mindful of what surfaces you use abrasive cleaners on. We recommend spot testing a surface before fully cleaning it, just to ensure it won't be scratched or damaged. Concentrates are a cost-effective alternative to normal spray bottles, but they require mixing, and don't always come with separate spray bottles or application tools.
The ingredients list, which varies among all-purpose cleaning products, should also receive a decent amount of attention when you're shopping for a cleaner. Surfactants are must-haves, as they do most of the cleaning, and they can be naturally derived or synthetic. Then there are deodorizing ingredients, such as baking soda and essential oils. Some cleaners also have disinfecting ingredients, like bleach, benzalkonium chloride, pine oil, or phenols. Disinfecting and antibacterial ingredients should not come in contact with food surfaces, which somewhat limits their daily use.
These disinfecting ingredients should always be used in conjunction with protective materials, such as gloves and glasses, if you have sensitive eyes. If you have sensitive skin, McNerney says to watch out for products with chlorine and/or hydrochloric acid, as they can be very irritating.
While the amount of cleaner you receive is mainly pre-determined by packaging options, there are some ways that you can make your cleaners more cost-effective. As mentioned above, concentrates will last much longer than their diluted counterparts. Concentrates are also sometimes designed to serve as multi-purpose cleaning solutions, like the Branch Basics Concentrate, which can be used to create hand soap, laundry detergent, and all-purpose cleaner, among other things.
You'll also want to keep in mind the amount of product you spray or dispense. Most spray bottles eject enough product after two or three spritzes to clean a decent-sized surface. You should not overuse a product or completely saturate an area as this may lead to staining, deterioration over time, and eye or nose irritation.
While scented cleaning products are a matter of personal preference, formulas with extra-strong fragrances can affect your guests, pets, and other people living in your home. Don't get us wrong—we're all for a good smell. That said, the best all-purpose cleaners are lightly scented, usually with natural ingredients like essential oils or plant extracts. They should be refreshing yet not overbearing. You can also find unscented options if you prefer to keep it simple.
What is an all-purpose cleaner?
An all-purpose cleaner is a product that will remove grease and grime from a variety of surfaces without the need for vigorous scrubbing and without leaving any residue behind. Spray applications are best for small areas and quick clean-ups, while concentrated products (that should be diluted with water before use) are better for floors and large cleaning jobs.
What is the difference between all-purpose cleaner and multi-purpose cleaner?
All-purpose cleaners are formulated to remove surface soil and grime from most hard surfaces in a household. "All-purpose," "multi-purpose," "multi-use," or similar catchall terms are used interchangeably on product labels, but they essentially all function the same way.
Because every product brand is slightly different, be sure to read the label carefully. Most cleaners can be used on kitchen and bathroom counters, sinks, and fixtures. Some products can also be used for cleaning glass surfaces and hard surface floors.
Is all-purpose cleaner safe on paint?
All-purpose cleaners sold in spray bottles can be spritzed directly onto dirty surfaces or sprayed onto a cleaning cloth, but that doesn't mean they should be sprayed on every type of surface. An all-purpose cleaner that has bleach or other brightening ingredients should not be used on paint, as it will deteriorate the color and surface. We recommend reading the product labels closely for specific directions and suitability to surfaces. Most cleaner labels will include specific surfaces that they can and cannot be used on.
Can you clean a toilet with an all-purpose cleaner?
As mentioned above, you should carefully read a product's label before using it on a specific surface. If a product is described as safe to use on ceramic, then you could use it to clean a toilet bowl. We think a cleaner that contains bleach or another type of disinfectant would be best.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Emma Phelps, an updates writer for The Spruce, refreshed this roundup's product list to reflect the latest product developments for all-purpose cleaners. Phelps has covered a variety of topics for the appliances, cleaning, and organization column at The Spruce. She has also previously interviewed cleaning experts, whose expertise helped inform Emma's background understanding for this topic.
Theresa Holland is a freelance writer for The Spruce, and she originally researched and wrote this roundup. She's covered home improvement, cleaning, bedding, and more in the home space. She has personally gone through multiple bottles of Mr. Clean, Mrs. Meyers, Method, Lysol, and Clorox, and can speak to their effectiveness. Additional research for this article comes from Mary Marlowe Leverette, a nationally recognized cleaning expert.
For additional background on all-purpose cleaners, we spoke to Christine McNerney, Senior Director of Merchandising, Non-Food, at Thrive Market, who spoke about ingredients to look for and how to use all-purpose cleaners.