Sunday, September 7, 2008

Review: Kitchen cleaner comparison

I have a bad habit of forgetting that I have plenty of kitchen surface cleaner, and buying more.  Or something new and sparkly catches my eye in the store and it goes into the shopping cart before I've even really thought if I need it. I vow to be better at this, and actually organize my cleaning supplies to prevent overbuying in the future, I promise! However, my poor shopping habits meant that I have ended up with several different cleaning products at home, so in the interests of science I decided to conduct a cleaning experiment. Yesterday, therefore, I carefully spread a greasy concoction of salad dressings, mustard and marinade over my granite kitchen countertops and left it to dry, then set to it to see which cleaners worked better. I also ended up trying them all out on my stainless steel stove hood/extractor fan thingie, to see how well they performed on metal. 

The contenders were:

1. Ecover Glass & Surface Cleaner. This is not a very frugal choice. It retails for about $4.50 for 16 ounces, and I haven't come across a refill for it, though I hope one exists - there's a lot of plastic in those spray heads that we don't need to be using up every time. I have seen a refill of their all-purpose cleaner, but I'm not sure if there is one to the glass & surface cleaner. It has a light, fresh and vaguely citrusy scent that is hard to place but is pleasant enough. I'd originally bought this one just to use as a glass cleaner, and hadn't previously tried it on kitchen grease.

2. Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Countertop Spray in geranium scent. Again, not a frugal choice as it retails for about $4.99 for 16 ounces. A large refill bottle is available of the general purpose cleaner, but not the countertop spray - the bottle says the countertop spray contains an additional vegetable protein extract to remove odors from kitchen and bath. I bought this one for the scent, which is a lovely lemony-floral, rosy-minty geranium. I have several products from the Mrs. Meyer's range, and they do make the kitchen and bathroom smell lovely, so it definitely helps me get on with the cleaning chores that I might otherwise be reluctant to tackle. The bottle includes a "common sense caution" to avoid eye contact. 

3. Clorox GreenWorks Natural All-Purpose Cleaner. I decided to try this one as I felt guilty about the amount of money I was spending on products. I worry about how green it is, as it is first of all made by Clorox, and secondly has "CAUTION: EYE IRRITANT" on it although it is endorsed by the Sierra Club. The bottle is about $3.29 for 32 ounces, though I have spotted it in Walmart and Target, so I am sure it is cheaper there. I have also seen a large refill bottle available. The scent of this cleaner is quite lemony, and it has a light green color.

4. Arm & Hammer Essentials Multi-Surface cleaner.  This caught my eye as it is sold as an empty 32 oz spray bottle, with a mini bottle of concentrate attached to it. You fill the bottle up with water when you get home, add the concentrate and voila. This is a pretty darn good idea for transport purposes, as it costs less to transport lighter weight products.  The "starter kit" was $2.99, and refills are available as a package of the two mini bottles for $3.99. It is a shockingly deep green color, so they went completely overboard on the colorant. I also tried to find the ingredients of this online yesterday but failed miserably, so I don't know how environmentally friendly it really is. This bottle has several cautions in large letters - the front says "CAUTION: EYE IRRITANT, MAY BE HARMFUL IF SWALLOWED" and the back says "CAUTION: CONCENTRATE IS COMBUSTIBLE". The cautions do not give me the warm fuzzies on this one, I have to say.  This one smells the most ammoniacal - I can't place the scent as it mostly just smells of cleaning fluid to me.  This is clearly the least "green" of the cleaners I tried.

I also initially tried a Seventh Generation bathroom cleaner, but quickly took it out of contention because bathroom cleaners don't typically have degreasers, and as I'd created a big ole greasy mess that it was struggling with, I didn't think it was a fair comparison. 

First test - grease fighting. All four cleaners were surprisingly close in how well they performed on my greasy, dried up lake o' salad dressings.  The Clorox cleaner got more sudsy than the others, so required an extra wipe or two to clean up the suds. But it was very hard to declare a winner on this test. The Ecover particularly surprised me, as I'd never even tried it in the kitchen before, and had it pegged as a lightweight, but it definitely kept up with the big boys. If I had to put it in order of efficacy, I'd say the Ecover and the Arm & Hammer came out top, the Clorox was next (but only marked down due to having to do an extra wipe to clear off the suds) and the Mrs. Meyers was last. I want to stress, though, that these are marginal differences - all performed admirably and I'd be happy to use any of them.

Second test - cleaning greasy stainless steel. I admit, I don't get up on a chair and clean the stove hood very often. This was therefore a tough test, with grease and dust to shift. Again, all four products cleaned admirably. If I had to declare winners, it comes down to the lack of streaks left behind, and the Ecover and Mrs. Meyers seemed better on that score. I double-checked streakiness on the front of the fridge, which is a brushed stainless steel, and there again the Ecover and Mrs. Meyers worked the best - Ecover being slightly better.

All in all, I feel I have to declare Ecover the winner, which I found quite surprising as I expected it to be the least efficacious. Part of this is due to the fact that one product will work well on kitchen countertops, stainless steel, AND glass (I've used it on the shower door several times and it does OK there too) - there shouldn't be a need to have several different spray bottles at one time. It's also vegan and seems the most environmentally sound product of all four - no scary warnings on this label! My concern is in the cost, but if I can find a refill bottle I think I will switch to using this one all the time.

Second place goes to the Clorox because of the price. It worked well on the kitchen counter mess, but I don't think I'd want to use it on metal or glass.

Third place (though it was very nearly a tie for second with Clorox) goes to Mrs. Meyer's. I do love the scent, and it did well in the streakiness stakes. In the end, the higher cost marked it down.

Fourth place goes to Arm & Hammer. It worked great on the greasy mess, but alas, all those warnings and the crazy color are off-putting because they imply that this contains lots of chemicals. I wish they'd have put the ingredients on the web, too. The price is good, and I like the concept of selling just the concentrate, but it just doesn't seem green enough.

Of course, if I was being uber frugal and green, I'd make my own cleaning products, but I don't think I'm ready for that yet - maybe one day, eh?

1 comment:

Deb said...

Thanks for the info! I have used the green works glass and surface cleaner but not the regular cleaner yet. I will have to look for the ecover... I'm guessing Whole Foods?