How to Choose Cleaning Solutions

Elbow grease used always to be the good cleaner’s best tool. But today – hooray – you can bid farewell to muscle power and say hello to cleaner living through chemistry if you choose to. You can employ a host of branded products that make fast, lightweight work of dissolving grime. You don’t of course need to buy all of them.

Type of Cleanser Uses Cautions
Abrasive cream cleaner Contains tiny granules to add friction to the cleaning power. Use to get stubborn marks off smooth hard surfaces. Can scratch worn enamel or worsen already scratched acrylic. Check that it’s safe for enamel before using on the bath.
Furniture polish Ignore silicone-based sprays designed to coat the surface and go for liquid and creams that penetrate into wood. Can visibly darken wood. Be sure you are okay with this before you begin.
Liquid bleach Use it neat to clean toilet bowls and indoor and outdoor drains. Dilute (50 millilitres [4 tablespoons] to 5 litres [1 gallon] of water) for floors and worktops. Eye and skin irritant. Never mix with other cleaning products as this could release dangerous toxic fumes.
Liquid multi-surface cleaner Use on worktops, sinks, basins, and hard surfaces around the home. May contain dilute bleach and if so shares its cautions.
Metal polish Buy specialist products to suit the brass, copper, and silverware in your home. Chrome doesn’t need a metal polish: a microfibre cloth is sufficient. Always work in a ventilated room. Avoid breathing closely over metal polish.
Spot stain remover Fast action for accidents on fabric and carpets. May not be colourfast. Do a small test patch first.
Toilet cleaner Down the pan and under the rims of the bowl. Never mix with bleach and flush several times before using another toilet cleaner.
Washing-up (dishwashing) liquid Any cleaning that calls for mild, sudsy water including floors, cloths, toys, ornaments (decorations), and much more. However, all will need thorough rinsing. Dishwasher tablets and powder are skin and eye irritants. Never directly hold dishwasher tablets. Some washing-up liquids contain bleach. Bear this in mind when using as a cleaning tool on delicate surfaces. Bleach-free varieties are available, so have a good look at the label.

Manufacturers sell cleaning products by linking them to specific chores or surfaces and making you think you need ten separate products just to clean the surfaces in your kitchen.

For example, say you pick up a chrome cleaner you saw advertised. Reading the label, you notice that the chrome cleaner also cleans stainless steel and plastic. Then you check the label of the multi-surface cleaner you already have and find that it too would clean your chrome! Sometimes specialist cleaners save you time and elbow grease; generally one cleaner works on many surfaces.

Compare unit prices before you buy. You may find that a cheaper cleaner does just as well as one three times the price.

If you want to get your cleaning done quickly and efficiently and want to cut the physical grind of scrubbing and scouring, go straight to the cleaning aisle at the supermarket. Pick up as many specialist cleaners as comfortably sit within your budget and you will gain vital time-savers by using products that don’t need to be rinsed, or act in seconds rather than minutes, or are pleasantly scented.

Always go small. Once opened, a cleaner will lose its strength and needs to be replaced within a year.

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