The smorgasbord of cleaning products gathering under your kitchen sink is no doubt impressive—there's a spray, powder, wipe, and tool for everything. But if you've ever wondered what's really worth keeping and what's taking up undeserved space, you're not alone. While the number of cleaning products available is extensive, it doesn't necessarily mean they're all valuable.
In some instances, some products may be far past their expiration dates or provide little to no cleaning effectiveness. There are also a handful of formulas out there that aren't the safest things to have in your home. When you're ready for a good old clean-out, here are the products worth throwing away or using up (and not buying again), according to cleaning professionals.
Ultra-Specific Cleaning Products
A product made just for a very specific cleaning purpose must be the best thing for the job, right? Not necessarily. Adriana Aziz, the operations manager at Maid For You, notes that it's simply good marketing. "A lot of cleaning chemical manufacturers would have you believe that you need specific cleaning products for specific areas of your home," she says. "I'm of the firm opinion that if you don't have natural stone surfaces or sensitive hardwood floors in your home, you'll only need a few cleaning products."
What's really worth having then? "If you're doing a thorough deep clean of your entire home, you'll only need an oven cleaner, microfiber cloths, [and] hot water with a splash of dish soap and vinegar, that's it," Aziz says. The only exception is products that help out with heavy-duty cleaning if you're not capable of intense cleaning.
Natural Cleaners in Recycled Bottles
"Many cleaning products advertise themselves as being 'natural' when they are actually just as harsh as any other mainstream, standard cleaning solution, including ammonia and petroleum," says Vera Peterson, president of Molly Maid, a Neighborly company. The façade is continued by bottling these solutions in "recycled" packaging, which makes them look even more eco and human-friendly—both of which may not be true.
"While there are numerous environmental benefits to reducing plastic, if you are searching for a proper natural cleaner (one that both disinfects and is environmentally friendly), these products simply don’t fit the bill," she adds. Instead, try to cut down on your plastic consumption in other ways. For example, find more effective solutions that can be refilled in reusable glass bottles.
Natural Cleaners That Don't Disinfect
Peterson also adds that natural cleaners without disinfecting capabilities should be axed from your cleaning arsenal, too. "Believe it or not, some natural cleaners remove germs from surfaces without killing them," she says, adding that they really just get spread to new places. "While this may not sound like a big deal, when it comes to stopping the spread of harmful bacteria, such as E. coli, you need to use a cleaner that disinfects too!"
Natural cleaners may be good for some purposes, but for a true, deep clean, disinfecting cleaners are better to have on hand.
It's true that not every basic cleaning product is ideal for removing smudges and grime from glass, but don't jump on the shiny bottles promising dazzling surfaces or keep them in your cupboard. Professional cleaner Sara San Angelo, who's known as The Cleaning Lady, notes that specialty glass cleaners aren't worth the cash or time spent using them. "Glass cleaners...are a waste of money, and they can be dangerous if accidentally mixed with other cleaning supplies," she says. "You can make a simple, affordable, and eco-friendly glass cleaner using one part distilled vinegar to one part water."
Don't run to your cabinet just yet—we're not talking baking soda in general, but expired baking soda. This ingredient itself is a fantastic item to have around, but it doesn't last forever. President Diana Rodriguez-Zaba of IICRC-certified cleaning company ServiceMaster of Lake Shore says it's better to be mindful of how long your soda has been sitting around.
"If you enjoy cleaning with baking soda, please be aware that it generally expires six months once the box has been opened," she explains. "During this time, the baking soda absorbs odors from its environment so if you plan on using baking soda to deodorize your laundry, use a new box after the six-month mark."
Old Sponges and Cleaning Tools
A surefire way to counteract the hard work you've put into scrubbing the bathroom fixtures or kitchen counters is by using tools that are far past their prime. Sponges, rags, and other cleaning accessories can be reused multiple times as long as they're sanitized properly. But more often than not, they're kept around a little too long. Sponges that are starting to smell should be tossed right away, as should materials that won't shake their dingy appearance.
Like window cleaners and other specific formulas, floor cleaners typically fall into the same category. They're often just marketed well but aren't really any more magical than basic solutions. "Your floor cleaner is likely not more effective than good old soap and water," says Toby Schulz, CEO and co-founder of Maid2Match. "Unless your floor is made of special material that needs a specific cleaner, you may be better without it. Typically you can get away with just using water or a single multi-purpose cleaner."
Commercial Air Fresheners
While you're sorting through your cleaning supplies, Schulz also recommends ridding your pile of heavy-duty air fresheners. The chemicals these items are composed of aren't the safest and can lead to health problems. His simple replacement? "Instead, open your windows more often or use baking soda and your favorite essential oils."