Looking for the best all-purpose cleaner?
Often called multi-surface cleaners, these contain ingredients that cut through grease, grime, and dirt.
Some even have antibacterial solutions to kill harmful germs and bacteria. It’s essential for any household and can make cleaning a breeze.
There are dozens of all-purpose cleaners out there, some that have been around for over a century.
My Top Picks
- Best Overall All-Purpose Cleaner - Better Life Natural All-Purpose Cleaner 2409C
- Best Antibacterial All-Purpose Cleaner - Mr. Clean Multi Surface Cleaner
- Best Powder All-Purpose Cleaner - Bar Keepers Friend Powdered All-Purpose Cleaner
- Best Green All-Purpose Cleaner - Clean Day Everyday Cleaner by Mrs. Meyer's
- Best Budget All-Purpose Cleaner - Method All-Purpose Cleaner
- Best Gentle All-Purpose Cleaner - Pledge Multi-Surface Cleaner
- Best All-Purpose Cleaner + Polish - Shadazzle All-Purpose Cleaner and Polish
Better Life’s All-Purpose Natural Cleaner easily qualifies as the best all-purpose cleaner. You know, it is hard to find an affordable cleaner that is free from harmful chemicals. Especially if you have kids or pets around the house, this becomes a major concern. But this one is derived from natural things like soap bark, coconut, and corn.
Besides, it’s free from alcohol, parabens, dyes, SLS/SLES, and petroleum solvents.
You’ll be able to use this cleaner for cleaning appliances, upholstery, ceramics, countertops, cars, boats, shower, toys, sports equipment, etc.
This performing cleaner comes in scents like Pomegranate and Citrus. However, there is an unscented variant as well.
Thanks to its powerful natural ingredients, it will cut through grime and grease seamlessly and comes in 32 fl oz and 128 fl oz bottles.
This top-rated all purpose cleaner is really simple to use. You just have to spray and to wipe with a cloth. This way, cleaning with this cleaner around the house will save you considerable time that you would otherwise spend scrubbing.
However, some reviewers reported that if you use a lot of product on a surface, you might even need to rinse it. And the ingredients have properties that make it a bit sticky. So when used in excess quantity, you might have to rinse with a little water to get it off completely.
All in all, if you are looking for a strong all-purpose cleaner that is also free from harmful chemicals, the Better Life All-Purpose Cleaner is the answer. It combines the power of most chemical-based cleaners with the fresh and fragrant effect of natural cleaners.
Mr. Clean is known to be the most efficient antibacterial all purpose cleaner at tough cleaning jobs.
This cleaner can also act as a limited disinfectant. In fact, you can use it for virtually anything, including floors, countertops, cabinets, and furniture to kill germs.
Be careful though, since it’s strong, you should dilute it with water when using delicate surfaces and wood furniture.
This anti-bacterial cleaning agent works very quickly as well. Whether using diluted or directly with a sponge, you will get rid of the dirt and grease in no time. And since it’s antibacterial, it will leave whatever it is that you are cleaning, not just clean but also bacteria-free.
Though it gets the job done, it is not all-natural. Natural cleaning products are becoming more popular with environment-conscious consumers...and on this point, reviewers regret that Mr. Clean doesn’t use more natural alternatives in its ingredients.
To sum up, Mr. Clean brand has cemented its name in the world of cleaning supplies. Any list regarding cleaning agents would be incomplete without this most effective antibacterial surface cleaner.
The Bar Keepers Friend is a powder-based all-purpose cleaner that works perfectly well. While you may prefer liquid-based soaps and household cleaners, the Bar Keepers Friend has the same power as a liquid (or maybe more).
Plus, it’s a bleach-free product designed to clean and polish steel surfaces. And you can easily apply it to a lot of other surfaces. You can use it on countertops, porcelain, backsplash, and drained floors. It’s just as bathtubs as it is for faucets.
Besides, unlike most all-purpose cleaners that are only good for grease, this one can also fight rust. So when your cooking utensils like pans or grills get a bit rusty, it can make them new again.
Even in powder form, it is just as simple and easy to use. You just pour some on the wet surface, rub with a cloth or sponge, and then rinse.
However, the biggest downside is that it contains a very strong chemical, Oxalic acid. This can be harmful if swallowed or inhaled, so you have to be pretty careful when using it. In fact, users recommend using it for the toughest stains and rust.
All in all, because of its strong ingredients, this all purpose cleaner is super powerful. But you might be better off using it occasionally. For instance, when cleaning a BBQ grill once a year. It’s perhaps too strong for every day cleanings like countertops or bathroom surfaces.
Made from plant-based substances, there are no harmful chemicals in the Clean Day Multi-Surface Everyday Cleaner. It contains many ingredients derived from natural sources like citric acid, Betula Alba bark extract, Decyl Glucoside, Sodium Methyl BiSulfolaurate, and glycerin.
The spray bottle contains 16 fl oz of liquid with different scent offerings. These include lemon verbena, basil, lavender, honeysuckle, and geranium. This gives it a very fresh feel every time you use it.
And, as its name suggests, this ecological cleaner is meant to be an everyday cleaner. This way, you can use it for cleaning countertops, sink, tiles, and walls.
Please note however that even if this product contains very efficient ingredients that do get the job done, it is not an antibacterial cleaner, therefore it won’t disinfect surfaces. So, it will clean non-porous surfaces but might not kill any bacteria and viruses.
Finally, for those who have taken a vow to use only green products around their household, the Clean Day by Mrs. Meyer’s is your best choice.
You don't want to spend ten bucks on a small bottle of surface cleaner? Well, that’s ok since the Method All-Purpose Cleaner is extremely cheap.
The good news is, even though it is cheap, it is made from natural ingredients. In fact, there are no toxic or non-biodegradable materials in this cleaning agent.
You can use it on virtually any non-porous surface around your home. Whether you use it after doing the dishes or use it to clean the table when someone spills some wine, you will find it to be pretty good at cleaning.
Besides, this inexpensive cleaner is derived from coconut and corn. It also contains the usual cleaning elements like soda ash and potassium hydrate. Plus, not only do they use natural ingredients, but they also use recycled plastic to create the bottles for this all-purpose cleaner.
You’ll also find this cleaning product in quite some variety in terms of scents. These colored cleaning liquids come in eucalyptus mint, lavender, grapefruit, clementine, and lime sea salt.
All in all, this economical all-purpose cleaner is also super ecological and green. If you want to buy the cheapest all-purpose cleaner spray, this one should be your choice. Usually, cheaper options are toxic, but not this eco-friendly alternative.
The Pledge Multi-Surface Cleaner is perfect if you are looking for a cleaner for everyday gentle cleansing. Indeed, you can use it everyday, without having to worry. This cleaner will not harsh up any surface even after repeated use.
This gentle cleaner contains ethyl alcohol, citric acid, lauryl poly glucose, sodium citrate, and some fragrance. For lots of users, the fresh citrus scent is their favorites as it leaves the surface fragrant and fresh. There are also no coarse substances or harmful chemicals used in making this cleaner.
Regarding the surfaces, you can use it to clean your marble and granite areas. You can use it on wood and glass as well. Users also report that this is an efficient cleaner for furniture as well.
One of its advantages is that there is no residue left after you wipe the cleaner off the surface. Also, there is no need to rinse the surface. A very minimal amount of spray would do the job.
Some buyers regret that this non-aggressive cleaner has an unscented variant which has been discontinued. So, if you are looking for unscented cleaning supplies, you might not be too happy with this citrus-scented cleaner.
Lastly, this all purpose cleaner works wonders on various precious areas and will not ruin the surface over time.
The Shadazzle All-Natural All-Purpose Cleaner and Polish does a little more than just cleaning a surface. It also makes it sparkly thanks to its polishing action.
This multi purpose cleaner is perfect for all those soft and nonporous surfaces that have gone dull over time. Made using only natural resources, this all-purpose cleaner is free from harmful phosphates. And you can get it in three mesmerizing scents: lemon, eucalyptus, and lavender.
This all purpose cleaner is a little different from those liquid cleaners because it comes with a sponge that you rub on to the product inside. Regarding usage, just a little will make a lot of foam. You can then simply scrub and clean any surface you like.
Because of its polishing properties, it is best for cleaning utensils and other steel appliances in your kitchen. You can also use it on the countertop and stove top. Users reported that they even use it to clean their white sneakers.
Plus, this product is certified by Ecocert as it is completely eco-friendly. Unlike other competitive all-purpose cleaners, the main ingredient in this cleaning product is clay, which is quite uncommon for a cleaning product.
However, even if reviewers report that it works as a cleaner and polish, they also say that it is not as easy to use as liquid soaps and cleaners. You will have to scrub quite a lot, especially if the stains and dirt are old. Also, it needs rinsing afterward.
To conclude, although it is advertised as an all-purpose cleaner, it is better for cleaning utensils and steel appliances like ovens and microwaves. Of course, you can use it on flat surfaces like countertops or bathroom floors but it would be a hassle to clean.
What to Look for in an All-Purpose Cleaner
Buying an all-purpose cleaner should not be too difficult, but it is.
Just go to the cleaning supply aisle at a market nearby, and you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about.
It’s like a wonderland of cleaning products, each advertised to be the absolute best. When the choices are that many, you are bound to scratch your head even for something as simple as an all-purpose cleaner.
If you do a little reading up, you can get exactly what you need for your home. We all have different priorities, uses, and cleaning habits.
So you need an all-purpose cleaner that is, in essence, a little bit specific purpose too.
Here is what you need to keep in mind:
This is your starting point when choosing a multi-surface cleaner. While these products are called multi-surface or all-purpose cleaners, some may be better at cleaning certain surfaces than others.
This is true that most all-purpose cleaners can be used on all types of surfaces, but there are still some that should be avoided. For instance, wood may be too delicate for these cleaners.
So you will not be able to clean any furniture or cabinet doors.
In an average home, you would most likely need to clean countertop, stovetop, tiles, and ceramics. You may also need something for occasional cleanings like barbeque grill or oven.
Make sure you know what surfaces you need to clean and whether the product you are buying is going to work on them.
Times have changed, and consumers are way more conscious these days.
It has taken us the hard way to understand the impact of harmful chemicals on our health and the planet.
This is why it is important to take a minute and check the ingredients and composition of any product you buy, including all-purpose cleaners.
They cannot all be chemical-free, but some alternatives are completely natural or even vegan. If you are very particular about this, you can shop exclusively for green all-purpose cleaners. If you need something to clean up some nasty old grease or rust, you will need something strong with chemicals.
The bottle should indicate all the ingredients, including those that can be hazardous if inhaled or swallowed.
Make sure to read about the ingredients and avoid those that are too corrosive.
When we clean and wash things and surfaces around the house, the chemicals from these cleaning agents end up in our waterways.
This has been going on for decades and gradually harming aquatic life. More and more brands are producing eco-friendly cleaning products with all-natural ingredients.
Some are even recycling bottles. You can recycle as well by just buying a refill of the cleaning liquid.
If you are a green person, you will find plenty of choices for all-natural, eco-friendly, all-purpose cleaners.
Scented or Unscented
Most cleaning products you will see online or in the market will have some kind of scent.
This is part of the whole cleaning experience as fragrances like citrus or lavender have a refreshing effect on our senses, and the home feels even cleaner.
There are all kinds of fragrant scents in these products.
Not everybody wants to go through this psychological effect. Some prefer their cleaning products to be unscented.
Some of you have a heightened sense of smell. The scent may be too distracting and strong for them. Luckily, there are unscented variants of many name brand all-purpose household cleaners.
Ease of Use
The ultimate purpose of an all-purpose cleaner is to make cleaning effortless. If you are spending a lot of time scrubbing, you might as well do it with just a bare sponge or steel wool.
Depending on what you are cleaning and how dirty it is in the first place, you will need to do some scrubbing. However, a good quality cleaner will clean all the dirt and grease in one go.
Some all-purpose cleaners do not even require rinsing. You just spray it and wipe with a cloth. However, some require rinsing after you have wiped to get rid of all the dirt and grime.
The prices of all-purpose cleaners vary a lot today. Back in the day, you would spend two to three dollars and get yourself a bottle that would last a few months.
However, today there are a lot of varieties. Some are pretty basic and cheap, while others can cost upwards of ten bucks a bottle.
This depends on your budget, whether spending ten bucks on a cleaning agent is a lot or not. If you do not want to spend this much, you should not. You can easily find a quality all-purpose cleaner under five bucks.
Most all-purpose cleaners, even green ones, may contain some ingredients that can irritate the eye or may even be dangerous if swallowed.
The bottles often have fruits or flowers on them, which can be misleading if you have kids around the house.
Make sure you are buying products free from very strong chemicals. Also, keep them out of the reach of kids at all times.
Most companies clearly indicate on the labels if there are any hazardous ingredients. They also indicate if the product should be kept away from children. They are required by law to do so.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
An all-purpose cleaner is designed to clean many types of surfaces. It is also called a multi-surface cleaner for this reason. It can simply wipe out dust, cut through grease, clean out grime, or kill bacteria.
You can use them to clean countertops, stoves, kitchen appliances, tiles, ceramics, steel, faucets, car interior, furniture, etc.
These can act as a disinfectant, detergent, cleaner, and even polish. There are no standard ingredients or effects particular to all-purpose cleaners.
Although termed all-purpose, some might not be suitable for porous surfaces like wood.
You can use them in your kitchen and bathroom. These eliminate the need to buy different products for different surfaces by combining ingredients that work on multiple surfaces like granite, marble, steel, plastic, aluminum, etc.
Yes, you can use an all-purpose cleaner to clean the toilet, except for the inside of it. That requires a dedicated toilet cleaner.
You can spray the all-purpose cleaner on the toilet seat and cover. You can also use it to clean the exterior of the toilet bowl, as well as the flush tank. Those can get pretty dirty over time and often get ignored.
You can simply mist the entire toilet and wipe it clean with a paper towel or microfiber cloth. All-purpose cleaners are good at cleaning ceramics so your toilet will be left sparkling clean.
Yes, all-purpose cleaners are generally good at cleaning glass. You can clean mirrors, windows, and glass on the furniture or doors as well. The all-purpose liquid cleaner with a spray nozzle is the best for cleaning such surfaces.
You can simply spray and then wipe with a clean cloth. However, if you use an old newspaper, it will turn out even better as there would be no residue left on the glass.
Sometimes all-purpose cleaners leave some residue on glass surfaces, which you can see in broad daylight.
Wood is considered a porous and delicate surface. It may not be able to bear any harsh chemicals.
The polish would wear off, and the surface would lose its natural color as well. This is why most all-purpose cleaners are not suitable for wood surfaces.
If you want something for cleaning wood furniture or door, then get a cleaner specifically designed for it.
Some gentle, natural all-purpose cleaners might work with wood. Read the instructions on the bottle, whether it says it can be used on wood.
Unfortunately, not all multi-surface cleaners are good for the environment. They do perform their job very well and keep your house clean.
However, harmful chemicals can end up in our lakes, rivers, and oceans. This is usually a problem with those that must be rinsed off.
You should opt for more natural cleaning agents that are biodegradable. They do the same job and do leave any harmful chemicals in the water or the atmosphere.
If you must use those strong chemical-based cleaning products, ensure to minimize their use and dispose of the cleaning supplies properly.
You can also reduce the impact at your end by recycling the bottle. You may be able to get a refill for some all-purpose cleaners. This way, you can reuse the bottle many times.