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Putting all-purpose cleaners to the test

September 27, 2012 2:45:50 PM PDT
TV commercials make gleaming promises about all-purpose cleaners. Consumer Reports cut through the hype by conducting tough tests on 19 all-purpose cleaners, including big names like Clorox, Lysol, and Pine-Sol.

Testers slather tiles with stubborn stains like grape juice, mustard, ketchup, and grease. They also spray a soap scum residue on bathroom tiles. Then the cleaners are applied as directed.

"Most say you just spray them on and wipe. Others are a little bit more labor intensive. You have to apply them and then rinse them off," Celia Kuperszmid Lehrman said.

The tiles are then placed in this scrubbing machine. It gives each tile the same number of swipes with a paper towel. Some cleaners worked better than others. The cleaner used on the right tile left more of the grape juice behind.

Testers also left the cleaners on a variety of surfaces overnight to mimic an unnoticed spill. Some marred metal finishes, which could be a problem with your kitchen or bathroom faucets.

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

After scrubbing more than 500 tiles, only one cleaner did well enough to be recommended - Pine-Sol Original. It's not as easy to use as a spray. But it beat all the other cleaners by a wide margin.

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