Best Cleaning Supplies 2018: Multi-Purpose, Laundry Detergent, Stain Remover
Best Cleaning Supplies 2018: Multi-Purpose, Laundry Detergent, Stain Remover
Last Updated: . Best Cleaning Supplies 2018: Multi-Purpose, Laundry Detergent, Stain Remover. We researched and tested dozens of cleaning supplies to determine the best cleaning supplies for your home. We tested all -purpose household cleaners as well as laundry detergents and stain fighters. Here are our best picks.
Scroll down for our picks for Best Laundry Detergent, Best Stain/Crayon Remover and Best Grease Fighter. New to household cleaner shopping? Read our 7 Things No One Tells You About Buying Household Cleaners and Laundry Detergent.
The best all-purpose household cleaner is really a mythical creature. It’s tough to make one product that does everything well. But we’ve tested a plethora of chemical concoctions from oldies but goodies (like Formula 409) to brand new green cleaners like Method.
First, we’ll take your through the our picks for best all-purpose cleaner and best green cleaner then we’ll move on to the best options for your laundry and even best crayon remover for your toddler’s latest wall art.
Best Multi-Purpose Cleaner. While testing baby shampoos for another review, Puracy showed up on our radar. This Austin-based company makes a great baby shampoo with a lovely scent, so we decided to take a look at all their cleaning products.
We tested Puracy against a variety of old school chemical cleaners like Formula 405 as well as some new school “natural” cleaners like Method.
Puracy Natural Multi-Surface Cleaner, while not perfect at cleaning every surface or stain, scored remarkably well leaving little residue and a decent scent that doesn’t linger too long. It’s great at attacking grease and managed surprisingly well when we tried to remove older stains from countertops and stove tops.
Parents love Puracy too, according to a dozen interviews with readers of our Baby Bargains book.. They appreciate the lack of harsh chemicals like ammonia—Puracy contains various plant extracts and no SLS or petroleum-based ingredients. Overall, they thought it cleaned well.
Some readers complained it does leave streaks on mirrors and windows and it requires a bit more elbow grease to get tough stains out. On the plus side, very few readers reported skin, eye or throat irritation and some said they could even clean without protective gloves!
Puracy Natural Multi-Surface Cleaner scored an impressive 90% positive rating (four and five star reviews) on Amazon, confirmed as accurate by Fakespot and ReviewMeta. SweetHome.com (a sub site of Wirecutter.com) also gave Puracy their top rating. Puracy gets an A from the Environmental Working Group for eco-friendliness.
Testing laundry detergent is like letting your inner child go wild–you get to smear all kinds of gunk on a variety of fabrics. Then you’re required to bring back your inner adult and wash them all! Which is what we did with a curated list of laundry detergents.
We picked various laundry detergents to test based on what sells best on web sites like Walmart, Target and Amazon—we then narrowed our field to several top brands from both mainstream companies like Tide and from eco-friendly manufacturers like Seventh Generation.
After 14 field tests, our top pick for best laundry detergent is Persil ProClean Laundry Detergent, made by Henkel AG, a German company. Persil debuted in 1907 but was mainly sold in Europe (it’s the top selling brand in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands). Persil came to the US in 2015 after Henkel bought Dial. The Persil sold in the US is slightly different from the European version, to adapt to different stains (grease and grass stains are prevalent here) and water temperatures (we prefer cooler temperatures than Europeans).
So what’s great about Persil? First, you can use it in any type of washing machine: top load, front load, HE only and agitator. So there are no different versions based on what type machine you have. It’s a liquid, so you can use it to pretreat stains and don’t have to worry about the safety concerns from pods or packs—a strong plus for families with little kids, of course. And Persil is fairly affordable at about 13¢ per ounce (Amazon sells 150 ounces for $19.94; Sam’s Club sells it for as little as 11¢ an ounce.)
But you really want to know how it works. Our verdict: excellent. We tested it in our HE top loader on a variety of everyday clothes as well as stained items. It worked well on most stains and even got a few old stains out. Consumer Reports labs also reports the detergent scored high on removing a variety of stains like chocolate and blood. USA Today agreed that it was impressive at stain removal as well.
But . . . you knew there was probably a “but” here. A tremendous number of folks really don’t like the scent of Persil. In fact, that’s the biggest disappointment we hear from readers (we interviewed 37 parents for this article). Persil does make a Sensitive Skin version that claims to be hypoallergenic, dye-free and perfume-free. While we didn’t test this version, other reviews note that it is not quite as effective as the Original version.
Persil also sells its detergent in a powder (Power-Pearls, $15.90 62 oz.) and pods (Power-Caps, $17.97 62-count). We don’t recommend pods in houses with small children. Please see our 7 Things below for more details on why.
Why don’t we recommend Dreft? No doubt you’ve heard your own parents mention it. Dreft was originally formulated over 75 ago to be especially “gentle” to babies. But regular detergents have definitely caught up to Dreft. You can find a wide selection of detergents formulated for sensitive skin without dyes, perfumes or other additives. Dreft tends to cost more (22¢ per ounce versus 13¢ per ounce of Persil), and just doesn’t clean any better than regular brand name detergents. Save your money.
Best Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergent. If you’re wondering what makes a laundry detergent “green,” the answer is ingredients that are mostly derived from plants. Which plants? Hard to tell, because eco-friendly manufacturers usually still use chemical names to describe ingredients. For example, our top pick for best green detergent, Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day, lists Sodium Methyl 2-Sulfolaurate and Benzisothiazolinone as ingredients. Sounds just as scary as the ingredients in Persil or Tide.
And another issue to consider: there is no legal meaning to “natural” when it comes to laundry detergent. Despite these challenges, we understand parents may want to stay away from chemicals perceived to be more harsh to the environment and/or your skin. Mrs. Meyer’s uses no parabens, formaldehyde, artificial colors or bleach in its detergent. They have a great breakdown of ingredients on their website, if you want to know more.
Let’s get down to the nitty gritty here: does Mrs. Meyer’s work? Other “natural” detergents using plant-derived ingredients often cost a lot more but don’t clean nearly as well as the mainstream detergents like Persil and Tide. Mrs. Meyer’s, though, does a very good job at cleaning laundry and removing stains. And it is highly concentrated–you only need 1 oz. per load. Parents seem to love Mrs. Meyer’s, although some complain they don’t care for the scent.
Best Crayon Remover. Crayons are a blessing and a curse. They occupy our little ones at restaurants or when we want a little quiet time. But they are a temptation to budding graffiti artists. And they can be forgotten in pants pockets. To bring your walls back to pristine condition Goo Gone is our top pick. Don’t confuse this with Goof Off which is a stronger chemical.
Goo Gone ($7.50 for 8 oz. bottle) works well on removing crayons without also removing the paint underneath. It’s made with petroleum distillates and citrus terpenes, so if you’re chemical sensitive, you may not want to use it. Goo Gone isn’t just a for removing crayon, it can handle just about any sticky mess like gum, grease, tar, and glue.
Goo Gone can also treat laundry stains and remove crayon from the dryer. Follow directions carefully to get the best results and use in a well-ventilated area. If you are using it to remove crayon or gum from the dryer, you’ll want to air out the dryer before using it again as it could be flammable in high heat.
For parents looking for a “natural” solution to removing crayon, eucalyptus oil ($10) is an option to consider. It won’t be quite as effective as Goo Gone, but it does work if you’re careful.
Best Grease Fighter. Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid is our top recommendation for grease stains on clothes. We’ve used it for years and tested it against other stain removers like Spray N Wash and Shout. We haven’t found a better option for grease. Priced at 23¢ an ounce, it’s affordable. You can find it in small bottles for your laundry room, or use it to wash dishes (works great for that too) and just borrow occasionally for laundry grease stains.
Just apply a small amount to the stain (Dawn’s site recommends no more than a teaspoon or you’ll get too many suds), rub it in, let it sit for at least three minutes, then wash and dry as usual. We’ve even managed to remove grease stains that we didn’t catch in the first laundry go-round. We let Dawn sit for a day or two on older stains and then wash as normal. It works.
Why Trust Us
We’ve been rating and reviewing products since 1994. We have tested a variety of cleaning products on laundry stains, latex painted walls, wood floors, carpets and more. We also refer to trusted reviewers and labs like Consumer Reports and Good Housekeeping.
Finally, we look to our reader feedback to give us a real world perspective on cleaning products and we also evaluate consumer reviews posted on sites like Amazon. Here’s another key point: we don’t take money from the brands we review. No free samples for contests, no sponsors, no “partnerships.” Baby Bargains is your independent and unbiased source for expert baby gear reviews. We’ve been writing and reviewing products since 1994. Yes, that long! Learn more about our work and how to support our site.
How we picked a winner
We evaluate cleaning products by testing them directly on fabrics, flooring, latex walls, countertops, furniture and more. We also poll our readers for favorite cleaning products. We research the chemical components of both main stream cleaning products and those claiming to be eco-friendly to see which are most effective for which surfaces.
We’ve been rating and reviewing these products since 1994.
7 Things No One Tells You About Buying Cleaning Products!
1. The Internet has revolutionized cleaning.
You don’t have to call mom or ask a neighbor any more. If you have a tough to clean stain on laundry, or anywhere in your home, the Internet has an answer for you. And plenty of sites that can tell you if your sister-in-law is right or wrong to consider using club soda to get rid of common stains? (Answer: club soda works, but so does plain water. And neither will get rid of the stain completely.)
We found sites like Stain-Removal-101 and Tip Busters offered excellent advice. The Stain-Removal-101 site crowd sources and tests their advice, while Tip Busters is a testing site. Both had wide varieties of remedies from chemical products to home remedies. YouTube has scores of videos on how to remove blood stains, grass stains and tar, just to name a few.
2. Consider “home remedies.”
Lemon juice is a natural bleach, vinegar can make your windows shine and baking soda will clean your bathroom grout. Usually non-toxic and cheap, legitimate home remedy cleaners should be considered first when tackling a cleaning issue. Especially when you’re cleaning something that will come in contact with your baby (like a high chair tray) or food (like your refrigerator).
FYI: Vinegar and lemon juice are acids and will damage polished granite surfaces. Be careful when using these and other products–when using alternative cleaners, check that they are safe for your surfaces.
3. To launder cloth diapers, use a detergent with enzymes to pre-digest the mess.
Enzymes are an ingredient in some detergents intended to break down fats and oils as well as protein chains. Chemically speaking, this helps break up the stain for easy removal. Many of our readers are cloth diaper users and recommend pre-soaking with detergents with enzymes. They tell us you can avoid using lots of chlorine bleach if you presoak with enzymes. One type of presoak we like is Biz. Regular detergents like Persil also have enzymes.
4. Don’t buy your detergents in pod form.
Pods and Pod lookalikes (Pods are a Tide trademark), are single serving packets of laundry or dishwasher detergent encased in dissolvable plastic. They’re convenient, we know. But they can also be very dangerous when you have small children in your house. The bright colors may just entice your child to taste them. So avoid the temptation to use them for their convenience and your child won’t be tempted to eat them like candy. By the way, having a bottle of liquid detergent also makes it easier to pretreat stains–can’t do that easily with a pod.
5. Sometimes you need to use some bleach.
Bleach is a pretty harsh chemical. And you probably want to stay away from harsh chemicals when you have a baby. But sometimes you just need bleach. For instance, let’s say you had a friend over who brought her baby. And you just got a call from her telling you everyone in the house is sick with the flu or chicken pox or whatever. A small amount of bleach in a bucket of water is just what you need to kill just about any scary virus or bacteria on those plastic toys your babies played with. You need 1/4 cup of bleach for every gallon (or 1 tablespoon per quart).
Bleach will disinfect laundry, countertops (it can damage some types of counters, so check before you use), sinks, second hand toys, trashcans, diaper pails and more. It’s also one of the best ways to get rid of mold and mildew from grout, rubber mats and shower curtains.
Be sure to keep any cleaners like bleach or ammonia based sprays away from your child. Put them in an upper, locked cabinet to be safe.
6. Buckets can be dangerous to toddlers.
Most people today don’t clean their homes the way their grandparents did–on their knees with a bucket and a scrub brush. But you probably have a bucket around the house for some purpose or other. The key safety tip to remember: do not leave buckets with water in them unsupervised. Toddlers can easily drown in only an inch or two of water or cleaning solution. They have such large heads in relation to their bodies that they cannot easily stand up if they fall forward into a bucket.
7. Whenever possible, choose unscented, dye-free laundry detergent.
Want to avoid irritating your baby’s skin? Start with your detergent. Get the unscented, dye free version (like Persil Sensitive Skin, $14.50 for 100 oz., pictured). As you can imagine, the dyes and scents don’t really have anything to do with a product’s cleaning ability. If your baby has eczema (which can be caused by a myriad of things: food allergies, chemicals, genetics, climate, etc.) unscented dye-free detergents are a must.
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