5 On Your Side

Pine-Sol excels among all-purpose cleaners

Posted October 22, 2012 5:30 p.m. EDT
Updated October 22, 2012 6:33 p.m. EDT

TV commercials make gleaming promises about all-purpose cleaners. Consumer Reports cut through the hype by testing 19 cleaners, including big names such as Clorox, Lysol and Pine-Sol.

Testers slathered 500 tiles with stubborn stains such as grape juice, mustard, ketchup and grease. They also sprayed a soap scum residue on bathroom tiles. The cleaners were then applied as directed.

"Most say you just spray them on and wipe," said Celia Lehrman from Consumer Reports. "Others are a little bit more labor intensive."

The good news is none of the testers had to do all of the scrubbing. Testers instead assembled a scrubbing machine that gave each tile the same number of swipes with a paper towel.

When the scrub testing was done, it was clear some cleaners worked better than others.

For another test, cleaners were sprayed on a variety of surfaces and left overnight to mimic an unnoticed spill. Some marred metal finishes, which could be a problem with kitchen or bathroom faucets.

"We found in our tests that with convenience came a little less cleaning power," Lehrman said. "None of the sprays excelled at cleaning all the stains."

In the end, only one cleaner did well enough to be recommended, and it's an old stand-by – Pine-Sol Original. It's not as easy to use as a spray, but testers said it beat all the other cleaners by a wide margin.

If you still would rather use a spray, Consumer Reports says the best option is Seventh Generation Natural All-Purpose Cleaner.