The 11 Best All-Purpose Cleaners for Every Part of Your Home
When deep cleaning every night is not a doable task, quick habits like spraying the countertops and other surfaces in the kitchen or bathroom with all-purpose cleaner can help to maintain a tidy home. All-purpose cleaner is perhaps the most versatile cleaning product, given that it can clean up messes, disinfect surfaces, and in some cases deodorize your home.
To determine the best all-purpose cleaners, we spent hours researching top-rated options, looking at factors like fragrance, formula, versatility, and ability to clean, sanitize, and/or disinfect. We also asked Sara San Angelo, professional housekeeper and founder of Confessions of a Cleaning Lady, and Vera Peterson, President of Molly Maid, for their tips and recommendations on how to choose the best all-purpose cleaner.
Our top pick is Clorox Disinfecting All-Purpose Cleaner, which sets the bar high when it comes to thoroughly cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting almost any surface.
Here are our picks for the best all-purpose cleaners, along with tips and useful information on how to choose an all-purpose cleaner and maximize its effectiveness on nearly any surface in your home.
Our Top Picks
- Best Overall All-Purpose Cleaner: Clorox Disinfecting All-Purpose Cleaner
- Best Budget All-Purpose Cleaner: Everspring All-Purpose Cleaner
- Best Natural All-Purpose Cleaner: AspenClean Natural All-Purpose Cleaner
- Best All-Purpose Cleaner for Bathrooms: Mr. Clean Clean Freak Deep Cleaning Mist
- Best All-Purpose Cleaner for Kitchens: Lysol Kitchen Pro Antibacterial Cleaner
- Best Scented All-Purpose Cleaner: Mrs. Meyer's Multi-Surface Everyday Cleaner
- Best All-Purpose Cleaner Wipes: Clorox Disinfecting Wipes
- Best All-Purpose Cleaner Paste: Everneat Soft Scrub
- Best Disinfectant All-Purpose Cleaner: Purell Multi-Surface Disinfectant Spray
- Best All-Purpose Cleaner Concentrate: Branch Basics The Concentrate
- Best All-Purpose Cleaner Kit: Force of Nature Multi-Purpose Cleaner Kit
Best Overall All-Purpose Cleaner: Clorox Disinfecting All-Purpose Cleaner
Best Budget All-Purpose Cleaner: Everspring All-Purpose Cleaner
Best Natural All-Purpose Cleaner: AspenClean Natural All-Purpose Cleaner
Best All-Purpose Cleaner for Bathrooms: Mr. Clean Clean Freak Deep Cleaning Mist
Best All-Purpose Cleaner for Kitchens: Lysol Kitchen Pro Antibacterial Cleaner
Best Scented All-Purpose Cleaner: Mrs. Meyer's Multi-Surface Everyday Cleaner
Best All-Purpose Cleaner Wipes: Clorox Disinfecting Wipes
Best All-Purpose Cleaner Paste: Everneat Soft Scrub
Best Disinfectant All-Purpose Cleaner: Purell Multi-Surface Disinfectant Spray
Best All-Purpose Cleaner Concentrate: Branch Basics The Concentrate
Best All-Purpose Cleaner Kit: Force of Nature Multi-Purpose Cleaner Kit
To fully clean, sanitize, and disinfect almost any surface, the Clorox Disinfecting All-Purpose Cleaner is the best and most effective choice for most homes, especially when it comes to killing bacteria and viruses. For a natural, plant-based cleaner and disinfectant, AspenClean's Natural All-Purpose Cleaner is safe enough to use around pets, children, and those with sensitivities, while leaving behind a natural and light fragrance.
How to Shop for All-Purpose Cleaners Like a Pro
While it may be in the name that an all-purpose cleaner can be used anywhere, any time, for any surface, not all are created equally. First, it's important to decide if you want a cleaner, a sanitizer, a disinfectant, or a combination of all three. While those three terms are often conflated together, they are actually different (more about that below).
Next, decide where you are most likely to use this all-purpose cleaner (mostly in the kitchen, mostly in the bathroom, or anywhere in the home). Lastly, double check the cleaner's label to see if it can be used on a certain surface. "Do not use all-purpose cleaners containing bleach, citrus, ammonia, or hydrogen peroxide on marble countertops," says San Angelo. "These cleaners will corrode or burn the marble finish creating dull spots called etching."
While most all-purpose cleaners are liquids that are sprayed onto surfaces, there are some other varieties. Wipes are a popular alternative due to their convenience and cost effectiveness, but they're undoubtedly wasteful compared to liquid cleaners. Pastes are another, less common option that are typically more natural (and more expensive) than liquid cleaners. While they requiring a bit of a learning curve, they're a good choice for people who want to avoid plastic and harsh chemicals as much as possible.
While chemical cleaners are the most effective in killing more bacteria, viruses, and germs, there are plenty of natural options that can get the cleaning job done too. All-purpose cleaners may include more natural ingredients like essential oils, coco glucoside, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), decyl glucoside, and/or vinegar. Those with asthma, skin sensitivities, and allergies should avoid products with ammonia, bleach, synthetic fragrances, sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), and chlorine, among other ingredients.
Most all-purpose cleaners will contain some type of fragrance, whether it's synthetic, naturally derived through essential oils, or a combination of both. Some natural cleaners might have a smaller amount of fragrance for a subtler scent, but if a scented all-purpose cleaner is not for you, it's best to check the label for the "fragrance-free" stamp.
Questions You Might Ask
What is the difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting?
When shopping for an all-purpose cleaner, you might find that different product labels have different functions: cleaning, sanitizing, and/or disinfecting. While these might all seem like the same or similar concept, each is different and understanding their meaning can help you determine which all-purpose cleaner is best for you and your home.
According to the EPA, cleaning involves removing organic matter (such as dirt) from surfaces using a soap or detergent; sanitizing means killing bacteria but not viruses; and disinfecting kills both viruses and bacteria.
Are there any surfaces you shouldn't use all-purpose cleaners on?
While all-purpose cleaners are safe for most surfaces, particularly those that are non-porous and sealed, some materials such as quartz, marble, and certain types of wood may not be able to withstand an all-purpose cleaner, even if it is natural or plant-based.
"If you have surfaces such as granite or marble, purchase a product made specifically for those materials to avoid doing damage over time," says Peterson. It's best to use all-purpose cleaners on treated wood, porcelain, stainless steel, tile, laminate, plastic, and ceramic. All-purpose cleaners should never be used on fabric, including carpet, leather, and upholstery.
How often should you wipe down surfaces with an all-purpose cleaner?
While different all-purpose cleaners have different instructions on how often it should be used or how long it should be left on before wiping it, a good rule of thumb to follow is to use the solution a couples times a day and leave it on the surface for a few minutes at a time, depending on the strength and surface.
"Spray the solution liberally all over the surface and let it sit for about five minutes, or as directed by the label," says San Angelo. "This lets the ingredients soften up grime and grease so you don't have to scrub as hard, and you can spend time cleaning something else during this time."
Take Our Word for It
This article was written by L. Daniela Alvarez, contributing writer for Real Simple with nearly three years experience writing about lifestyle content and product reviews. To compile this list, she spent hours researching all-purpose cleaners and their ingredients, and reading customer reviewers. She also received tips on how to shop for all-purpose cleaners from Sara San Angelo, professional housekeeper and founder of Confessions of a Cleaning Lady, and Vera Peterson, President of Molly Maid.