We used a mechanical scrubbing arm to test which floor cleaner makes the job easiest.
Snapshot: Mr Muscle 5 in 1 Total Floor Cleaner is a liquid that you dilute with water. How well does it clean?
Snapshot: Long Life All Purpose Floor Cleaner is a liquid that you dilute with water. How well does it clean?
Snapshot: Simple Green Floor Cleaner is a liquid that doesn't need diluting. How well does it clean?
Snapshot: Select Floor Cleaner is a liquid that you dilute with water. How well does it clean?
Snapshot: Ajax Floor Cleaner Fresh Lemon is a liquid that you dilute with water. How well does it clean?
Snapshot: The Dettol Floor Cleaning System and Wipes is a mop with 15 wipes. How well does it clean?
Snapshot: Long Life Mop & Glo is a liquid that you dilute with water. How well does it clean?
Snapshot: Glitz Sugar Soap For Floors is a liquid that you dilute with water. How well does it clean?
Snapshot: Long Life Tile Cleaner is a liquid that you dilute with water. How well does it clean?
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We tested floor cleaners on white ceramic tiles, following the manufacturer’s instructions on how to dilute and apply the cleaner. If you have other types of flooring, check the packaging to see if it’s suitable before using.
We soiled tiles with a mixture of oils and dirt, to represent everyday grime that ends up on floors. To simulate mopping, we used sponges attached to a mechanical scrubbing arm, and scrubbed the tiles with light pressure. To measure how well the products cleaned the tiles, we measured the reflectance before and after cleaning with a spectrophotometer. We tested each product eight times, averaging the results.
We also tested a wipe floor cleaner. The Dettol Floor Cleaning System and Wipes is a mop and cleaner pack. The pack comprises a mop, which comes in five parts you screw together, and 15 pre-treated wipes. You attach a wipe to the mop head and it’s ready to go. The wipes come in a resealable pack. A refill pack of 15 wipes costs $6.49. It's much easier than filling and lugging a bucket about, which means you might be inclined to clean the floors more often.
Steam mops are touted as a chemical-free and “sanitary” way to clean floors. But they’re an expensive alternative to the conventional sponge mop and elbow grease.
We list the claims made on the packaging of floor cleaners in our product comparisons, but we haven't tested them.
Surfactants can have adverse effects on the environment, but “biodegradable” ones will break down and have little effect. There is an Australian standard, AS4351, some manufacturers may follow but this only applies to surfactants. There are no guarantees the other ingredients are biodegradable.
If you have a septic tank, it can be hard finding household cleaners that are safe to flush down the drain. Cleaners often contain harsh chemicals that can damage a septic tank. We suggest contacting your septic tank manufacturer to see what it recommends.
This means the waste, or “grey”, water is safe for other uses, such as watering the garden. If you are using grey water in your garden, we suggest not using it on food that will be eaten raw.
Some cleaners state they kill a certain percentage of bacteria, but there is little evidence that antibacterial cleaners stop the spread of bacteria in a house. There may even be the risk that they contribute to antibiotic resistance in the environment.
Always keep your cleaners away from children — ideally in a high or locked cupboard.
If anyone swallows cleaning product, immediately rinse out their mouth with water and phone your doctor or the National Poisons Centre (0800 POISON).
Don't waste money on cleaning products that don't do a good job. See which ones come out on top in our tests.
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