Bathroom cleaners

Bathroom grime can be tough for a cleaner to remove.

Bathroom cleaner with cleaning tools on sink

Bathroom cleaners face a harder task than most household cleaners, as soap scum contains skin oils and soap residue that can become caked on over time.

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We've tested 19 bathroom cleaners.

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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.

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).

Septic tank-safe claims

Septic tank-safe claims

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Septic tank-safe claims

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

More about septic tank-safe claims

How we test bathroom cleaners

Our cleaning score is a measure of how well the cleaner removes soft soap scum.

Most New Zealand cities have soft water, which means soft soap scum is the most common residue in bathrooms. We use a combination of soaps, synthetic sebum (body oils) and carbon black (which provides a dark colour, so cleaning can be measured) to simulate the effect of soap scum.

How we choose what we test

We aim to test brands and products you’re likely to see when you head to the shops, plus some you might not be aware of. Before we buy anything, we do our research – we visit stores (both online and physically), we talk to experts and consumers, and we ask manufacturers about their products. We want to capture new developments in the market and make sure the products we test will be available after we publish our results. We then compile a list of products and head out to purchase them, just as any consumer would.

How we test

Soap scum is baked on to tiles, then scrubbed with the cleaner for 10 strokes using a mechanical arm. The reflectance of the tile is measured before and after scrubbing. Each cleaner is tested eight times and the scores are averaged. Our lab follows the manufacturer's instructions for application times.

Ready to buy?

Check out our test results to see which cleaners we recommend.

Where’s the environmental testing?

Where’s the environmental testing?

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Where’s the environmental testing?

We’ve assessed how well these products clean. Our test is comparative, which means the products are compared to each other – not to a defined standard of “clean”.

We are developing an assessment of the impact of these cleaners on the environment, and the use of the products with septic tanks and greywater systems.

We’ll update this test with environmental results when we have them. For more information before then, see our article on whether cleaning products green claims stack up.

More cleaning products

More cleaning products

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