How to Select the Right All-Purpose Cleaner

When Wake Forest homeowners clean their house, they want to make sure that they are using the safest and most effective all-purpose cleaner. MaidPro Triangle, an experienced house cleaning service in Wake Forest, is sharing five tips to consider when choosing an all-purpose cleaner.

Factor #1: Acidity and alkalinity

A cleaner is considered all-purpose if it falls in the middle of the 0–14 pH scale, ranging from slightly acidic (pH=6) to neutral (pH-7) to slightly alkaline (pH=8). Alkaline-leaning all-purpose cleaners are somewhat more effective at breaking up organic grime such as dirt, oil, and grease. More acid-leaning solutions are better at cleaning inorganic types of stains such as calcium deposits, rust, or soap scum. Inorganic stains form when molecules from soap bond with minerals in the water. Most dishwashing liquids fall into the 6–8 pH range, so they make great stand-ins for many all-purpose cleaning tasks.



Factor #2: Safety for people and pets

Since all-purpose cleaners have a neutral pH, they are generally the safest choices for use around children, elderly, asthmatics, allergy sufferers, and pets. Solutions that fall outside of the 6–8pH range can burn skin, eyes, and respiratory tract tissues. When it comes to other dangerous chemicals, be aware that cleaning-solution manufacturers are permitted to incorporate a wide range of chemicals into their solutions. They are NOT required to list each ingredient on the label. Consumers should be cautious when umbrella-sounding terms are on a cleaner’s ingredient list. The fine print and usage guidelines such as instructions to ventilate well, wear gloves, avoid contact with skin, limit exposure time, or rinse thoroughly are strong indicators of how chemically harsh a solution really is.

Factor #3: Synthetic vs. natural or plant-based

All cleaners that work well are essentially chemical in nature. Some are composed of synthetics, which are chemicals created in a lab or factory. Plant-based cleaners rely on chemicals produced in nature. Cleaning solutions labeled as natural or green are not necessarily safer than synthetics. A good cleaner, whether synthetic or plant-based, will be formulated to pick up dirt and to be free rinsing, leaving little to no residue behind when used as instructed. In other words, most of the solution is removed when it is wiped away with a rag or cloth. A poor cleaner, whether synthetic or plant-based, can fall apart chemically when dissolved in water. Aside from failing to bond with and remove dirt particles, such cleaners have the potential to leave behind damaging and even dangerous residues that are not always visible.

Factor #4: Streaking/residue

Streaking is a good indicator that an all-purpose cleaner is leaving behind unwanted residues, which can release dangerous particles into the air. These residues can become breeding grounds for bacteria and other germs. When a recently cleaned surface seems to get dirty quickly, this is a warning sign that either the all-purpose cleaner is either not free rinsing or the user is not properly doing the rinsing process. When the chemicals designed to bond with and lift dirt away are left behind as residue, they will bond with dirt and oils and attract more grime to the area that was just cleaned.

Factor #5: Convenience vs. costs

Convenience in all-purpose cleaning solutions allows for many options. Sprays are generally easier to use than liquids, and pre-diluted solutions are easier than concentrates. Pre-treated wipes are easier than solutions that need separate cloths or sponges to apply. Gentler all-purpose cleaning solutions may also need more time to sit on a surface in order to effectively dissolve soils, sanitize, and disinfect. Tradeoffs for convenience are, of course, higher costs in terms of price, storage space, environmental impacts from packaging, transportation costs, and potentially safety as faster-working solutions often incorporate harsher chemicals.

A golden rule of home cleaning is to always use the least harsh, most effective solution for any cleaning job at hand. Cleaning regularly makes that rule much easier to follow. If there is a time crunch, get in touch with expert cleaners at MaidPro Triangle to see how they can help.

For more information, contact MaidPro Triangle of Wake Forest at (919) 629-1659 or visit them on the website at

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