Multi-purpose and kitchen cleaners

Do you really need to fork out for both?

Spray bottles with cleaning tools.

It can be tough picking the perfect household surface cleaner – should you buy a kitchen cleaner, or will a multi-purpose product do the job?

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We've tested 21 multi-purpose and kitchen cleaners.

Find a surface cleaner

Should you buy both types?

We tested both multi-purpose and kitchen cleaners. We found multi-purpose products, which can clean most household surfaces, were the best performers overall.

However, there were a lot of poor performers. Almost half of the cleaners in our test were no better than water, earning our Don’t Buy warning. Just four multi-purpose cleaners and one kitchen cleaner were good enough to recommend.

Spot test

When using a cleaner for the first time, check it’s safe for your surfaces.

Follow the instructions on the label and spray a coin-sized amount on to the surface you want to clean (do this in an area where it won’t matter if it gets damaged). Wait a few hours to see if the product harms the surface.

Surfaces to avoid

Most multi-purpose cleaners shouldn’t be used on metals or unfinished surfaces.

Always check the pack to see which other surfaces should be avoided – we found a wide variety of “unsafe” surfaces listed.

Unless the product’s label specifically says you can, you shouldn’t use multi-purpose cleaners on these surfaces:

  • Acrylic plastics
  • Aluminium
  • Brass
  • Carpet
  • Clear plastics
  • Copper
  • Cracked and damaged surfaces
  • Fabric
  • Granite
  • Halogen hobs
  • Hot surfaces
  • Lacquered surfaces
  • Leather
  • Marble
  • Natural stone
  • Non-glazed surfaces
  • Soft porous surfaces
  • Suede
  • Terrazzo
  • Unfinished wood
  • Unwaxed vinyl

Safety first

“Natural” doesn’t mean safe. “Natural” ingredients, even fragrances, can be harmful.

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).

Other claims

The wastewater (grey water) is safe

Some cleaners claim 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.

Antibacterial claims

Some cleaners state they kill a certain percentage of bacteria, but there is little evidence antibacterial cleaners stop bacteria spreading in a home. There is even the risk they contribute to antibiotic resistance in the environment.

Green claims

Green claims

Green claims

From the claims on the bottles, you’d be forgiven for thinking many household cleaners were nature’s own recipe. However, a lot of these claims are at best meaningless, and at worst misleading.

Read our full report

Septic tank-safe claims

Septic tank-safe claims

Septic tank-safe claims

Have a septic tank? There are some types of cleaner you should avoid.

More about septic tank-safe claims

More cleaning products

More cleaning products

More cleaning products

Don't waste money on cleaning products that don't do a good job. See which ones come out on top in our tests.

Learn more