Let's face it. Cleaning isn't all that fun. That's why we scan store shelves to score the product with the most promise to cut through grease and grime faster than its competitors. But here's the best of all cleaning tips: You likely only need one cleaning product, and it likely costs about $.30 a bottle. That's right, you've been overpaying big time!
Consumers Union recently put 20 all-purpose cleaners to the test and found some surprising results. A homemade, all-purpose natural cleaner mixed up by many mothers and grandmothers from previous generations outperformed all store-bought cleaners. Perhaps the loveliest part of finding that a half-and-half solution of water and white vinegar is highly effective is that it's healthier for families, too. It's free of harmful industrial ingredients that are hidden in most national brand cleaners.
Consumers Union tests found this cheap and effective cleaner was especially good at reducing streaking, but noted it left a stronger smell, which likely kept it from being the organization's Best Buy pick. The good news is that the vinegar smell dissipates within 30 to 60 minutes.
Read More: Homemade Cleaning Recipes That Work!
Ultimately, the Consumers Union tests found Pine-Sol liquid to be the Best Buy, but one that also carries some major health risks. According to data from Environmental Working Group's (EWG's) Cleaner Database, Pine-Sol products routinely get "D" ratings for safety. For instance, Pine-Sol All-Purpose Original cleaner contains ingredients that EWG links to environmental pollution, skin irritation, allergies, respiratory and digestive problems, and, potentially, cancer. As it stands, about half of the most popular cleaning products harbor ingredients that damage lungs.
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Our top pick? Definitely the white vinegar-water solution. It's much cheaper and much safer—plus, it works!
Seventh Generation Natural All Purpose spray also tested well in Consumers Union tests and received a "C" rating in EWG analysis, making it a better pick if you do want a store-bought cleaner. The EWG Healthy Cleaning Guide also gives "A" rankings for all-purpose cleaners, including Heinz White Vinegar, Green Shield Organic Biodegradable Surface Wipes, Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda Detergent Booster & Household Cleaner, and Dr. Bronner's 18-in-1 Hemp Pure-Castile Soap Baby Mild.