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Some materials and surfaces call for specific cleaning solutions. Still, it's good to have a multi-purpose cleaner on hand. You'll want something formulated to remove all kinds of messes and stains, but that's also easy to use and doesn't leave behind streaks or a filmy residue. Beyond that, the top options are safe to use on a variety of surfaces. We're talking counters, cabinets, floors, tables, chairs, appliances, sinks, tubs, toilets, windows, shelving, fixtures, lighting—you name it.
Here, the best all-purpose cleaners to keep your home in top shape.
Best Overall: Mr. Clean Clean Freak Deep Cleaning Mist Multi-Surface Spray Starter Kit
Mr. Clean is a household name, so it should come as no surprise the brand's Clean Freak spray is our number one pick. The multi-purpose solution comes in a handy spray bottle designed to coat your surfaces in an even mist from any angle. Smudges on the wall? Splatters on the ceiling? No problem.
This cleaner meets EPA safety standards for cleaning products. It powers through grease, grime, dirt, dust, and sticky residues. You can use it all over your kitchen, including on your appliances, anywhere in your bathroom, and on virtually every other hard surface in your home. Not only that, but it leaves a light lavender or lemon zest scent in its wake.
While this cleaner is fit for stainless steel, it is not considered safe for food-contact surfaces. That means you'll either need to rinse the surface before putting food on it, or just use a different cleaner for those spots in your home.
Best Budget: Soft Scrub Total All Purpose Bath & Kitchen Cleanser
Soft Scrub will only run you a few dollars, but it'll make your home look like a million bucks. This all-purpose cleaner can be used on counters, sinks, showers, toilets, and appliances. It breaks up grease, grime, stuck-on food, spilled liquids, soap scum, limescale, and hard water stains.
The lemon-scented formula works quickly and is easy to use. Just squirt a little into a rag or directly onto the mess in question, gently rub it around, then rinse it off to reveal a sparkly clean surface.
Best Value: Lysol 144 oz. Clean & Fresh Multi-Surface Cleaner
This 144-ounce jug of Lysol Clean & Fresh will give you the most bang for your buck. When applied to hard surfaces, the multi-use formula kills 99.9 percent of germs in a minute flat.
And it goes beyond disinfecting. This all-purpose cleaner cuts through grease, eliminates soap scum, and dissolves liquid messes throughout your home. It works best on non-porous materials, like acrylic, quartz, brass, stainless steel, glass, and glazed tile, but you can use it on other materials as long as you wipe it away quickly. Like many other all-purpose cleaners, you'll need to rinse any food surface materials with water if you use this product to sanitize or disinfect them.
Best Natural: Pardo Naturals Scrubbing Paste
If you prefer earth-sourced cleaners, reach for Pardo Naturals Scrubbing Paste. It's made with nothing more than baking soda, Castile soap, and essential oils. While it's not as easy to apply as a spray, it's great for small areas that need a little bit of elbow grease to get really clean.
The simple green formula works great on sinks, faucets, counters, tubs, toilets, showers, tile, and most appliances. We like that it comes in a range of natural scents, including lavender, citrus, lemongrass, and peppermint. You can also get an unscented version.
Best for Bathrooms: Clorox Clean-Up Cleaner + Bleach Original
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.
It's formulated with bleach, Clorox's signature ingredient, which helps with stain removal and disinfecting. This cleaner can be used in other areas of your home, too, including kitchen appliances, countertops, and outdoor furniture. Just be careful not to use it in the same area you use vinegar or ammonia to clean, as those combinations can create dangerous chemical reactions.
Best for Kitchens: Better Life Naturally Filth Fighting All-Purpose Cleaner
Thanks to its natural and effective ingredients, Better Life All-Purpose Cleaner is an excellent choice for kitchens. This plant-based, biodegradable solution is made with ingredients like soap bark, coconut, and corn. It breaks down messes without leaving any harsh chemicals or synthetic preservatives on the surfaces you eat and prepare food without the need for an additional rinse.
"We believe that biodegradable cleaners are very important in order to help minimize the impact that chemicals can have on aquatic life," says Christine McNerney, Senior Director of Merchandising, Non-Food, at Thrive Market. "A lot of cleaning products wind up going down the drain, which is why we believe it’s an important consideration to keep in mind while selecting products."
It can be used all over your kitchen—on your counters, sink, faucet, backsplash, walls, baseboards, stovetop, and all other appliances. This cleaner is also great for wiping down your dining room table after dinner and in your bathrooms for regular cleanings.
Best for Granite: Method All-Purpose Naturally Derived Surface Cleaner
Natural countertop materials like granite can be tricky to maintain. Since the material is porous, harsh ingredients like bleach can weaken and dull the surface. Even some natural cleaners, like vinegar, can scratch the surface, leaving it weaker over time. That's why we recommend a gentle formula, like Method.
This all-purpose cleaning spray is made with naturally derived ingredients. It's tough on spills, splatters, and sticky messes but won't cause harm to granite over time. It can also be used on other countertop materials, including tile, stone, acrylic, marble, and quartz, as well as wood, glass, and metal surfaces.
Best for Car Interiors: Tub O' Towels Heavy Duty Cleaning Wipes
You'll always be glad to have an all-purpose cleaner at the ready in your car for dust, dirt, food spills, and just general day-to-day grime. We suggest Tub O' Towels which, as you can probably gather from its name, is a plastic tub full of single-use wipes. Single use wipes are particularly helpful if you're spot cleaning on the go, so you don't have to put off cleaning up messes until you're back at home with your usual cleaning arsenal.
The large, pre-soaked wipes resist tearing and effectively lift stains from plastic, leather, vinyl, rubber, fabric, glass, and metal—no water or rinsing needed. This is also a great option to pack for camping trips, boat rides, air travel, or any other excursion.
Best Concentrate: Fabuloso Multi-Purpose Cleaner
While it might look like a jug of grape juice, this all-purpose cleaner is powerful enough to remove stains from, well, grape juice, among other things. It comes in 58, 128, or 169-ounce jugs, but a little goes a long way. Mix just a quarter-cup with a gallon of water, and you've got enough solution to clean your entire home a few times over, making this a great investment if you've got a big house or find yourself running through unconcentrated cleaner too quickly.
Best Scent: Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Multi-Surface Everyday Cleaner
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.
Overall, the best all-purpose cleaner is Mr. Clean Clean Freak Deep Cleaning Mist Multi-Surface Spray Starter Kit (view at Walmart). The convenient nozzle allows you to spray it from any angle, and the superstar formula powers through virtually any mess in your home.
However, if you have pets or prefer simpler, natural formulas, you can't go wrong with Aunt Fannie's All-Purpose Cleaning Vinegar (view at Amazon). The gentle solution is made with distilled vinegar, sugar surfactants, and essential oils and is safe for food contact surfaces.
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. Some cleaners may just list a variety of uses and surfaces. In any case, it should be versatile in that it works for many cleaning purposes but also won't damage most materials.
"All purpose cleaners are generally safe to use on all surfaces and are handy for those everyday messes that are bound to happen," says McNerney. "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."
Another important feature is the ingredients list, which varies among all-purpose cleaning products. 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.
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 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 used for?
All-purpose cleaners are formulated to remove surface soil and grime from most hard surfaces in a household. Since every product brand is slightly different, read the label carefully, but 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.
How do you use an all-purpose cleaner?
All-purpose cleaners sold in spray bottles can be spritzed directly on the dirty surface or sprayed onto a cleaning cloth. Larger bottles of liquid all-purpose cleaner are usually diluted with water. Read the product labels for specific directions and suitability to surfaces. The best cleaners do not require rinsing of the freshly cleaned surface after use.
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 dilutable products are better for floors and large cleaning jobs.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Freelance content creator and clean-home enthusiast Theresa Holland researched and wrote this roundup. She's gone through multiple bottles of Mr. Clean, Mrs. Meyers, Method, Lysol, and Clorox and can speak to their effectiveness. You can check out more of Theresa's work on MyDomaine. 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.