Cleaning on a budget: the cheapest cleaning products that really work

Everyone has noticed their grocery bills creeping up, and cleaning supplies are probably one of the least fun things to spend your hard-earned cash on.

They don’t come cheap either – the price of multi-purpose sprays, toilet cleaners, wipes, sponges, scrub brushes and associated cleaning supplies can add up quickly. After all, the household cleaning products market generates more than half a billion dollars in revenue in Australia every year. That’s a lot of money spent on sprays and wipes!

The household cleaning products market generates more than half a billion dollars in revenue in Australia each year

To add to the mess, our expert testing at CHOICE shows that some of the more expensive products aren’t even that effective, meaning you could be throwing your money down the drain.

So which cleaning products really scrub in our tests? And which one offers you the best sparkling bang for your buck? Here we look at the best performance in our latest cleaning product tests, and give you some tips and advice on how to keep those cleaning costs down.

What are the cheapest and best kitchen and all-purpose cleaners?

all-purpose cleaners

Every year our CHOICE experts test a huge selection of multi-purpose sprays to find out which ones are worth spending your money on.

The prices of the all-purpose cleaners we test range from 24 cents per 100 ml for the Aldi Power Force Pro all-purpose cleaner to $2.11 for the Earth Choice Cove Surface cleaner. The performance of each of the sprays varies.

Our top performer in this category, the Nifti All-Purpose Cleaner, scores an impressive 90% and is somewhere in the middle of the price range, costing $4.40 or 88 cents per 100ml.

But if you’re looking for a cheaper cleaner that still performs well, Windex Surface and Glass Floral is something to add to your cart. It offers the best balance of cost and performance, setting you back $4.80 or 64c per 100ml, but with a great performance score of 88%.

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Kitchen cleaners

A kitchen cleaner that can get the job done with minimal effort is probably at the top of most people’s list of cleaning supplies. But with prices ranging from 60 cents to $2 per 100 ml for the products we tested, it makes sense to find a product that not only works, but does it for the lowest possible price.

Our top performer in this category is Dettol Healthy Kitchen with 90c per 100ml and a CHOICE Expert Rating of 90%.

But for a better balance of cost and performance, try Jif Power and Shine Kitchen. It costs 71c per 100ml and scores just one percentage point less at 89%.

Natural Cleansers: The Cheapest and the Best?

If you really want to save money, making your own kitchen and all-purpose cleaner is certainly a cost-effective option, not to mention that homemade, natural products are much kinder to the environment.

You can make your own cleaning products with minimal fuss by using a few simple ingredients. There are many home recipes with ingredients such as bicarbonate or soda (baking soda), white vinegar, pure soap, borax or lemon juice. You may need a little more to remove (for example) soap scum in the bathroom, for which a store-bought cleaning product is a good option.

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What are the cheapest and best bathroom cleaners?

We recently tested over 30 bathroom cleaners and found a number of low-cost options worth adding to your low-cost cleaning arsenal. Prices for the products we tested range from 0.17 cents per 100 ml to $2.04 per 100 ml. This means you can make serious savings by switching to a cheaper but better performing product.

The cheapest top performer in our test is the Dettol Healthy Clean which costs 90c per 100ml. It scored an impressive 90% when our testers put it to work removing soap scum from some tiles.

Top performers – for half the price

But there are products that score almost as highly and cost half the price, which can help you save on your retail bill.

The Community Co Clean Freak Bath and Shower Cleaner costs 33 cents per 100 ml and scores 88% (meaning we recommend it).

Notable mentions also for the Aldi Power Force Mold Away, which costs 52c per 100ml and scored 86% (also recommended). And the Woolworths Strike Bath and Shower Cleaner, which also costs 33c per 100ml and scores 83%.

If those savings aren’t drastic enough for you, there’s another option from Aldi to try — and as an added bonus, it’s plant-based! Aldi’s Green Action bath and shower cleaner costs just $1 (17 cents per 100 ml) and scores a whopping 80%.

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What are the cheapest and best toilet cleaners?

Happy news for budget-conscious cleaners everywhere: Our top scorer in this category is also the cheapest: Aldi Power Force Bright & Clean Oxy Thick Toilet Gel, which scores 75% (our top score) and costs $2.19/31c per 100ml.

It’s less than half the price of our other top scorer, White King Toilet Gel with Added Stain Remover.

Other toilet cleaners range in cost from 29c per 100ml to $1.68 per 100ml for the Ecostore Antibacterial Toilet Cleaner.

More tips to save money on cleaning supplies

  • You don’t have to spend money on a specific spray for the kitchen, windows and other surfaces – one good multi-purpose spray will do the job. But you’ll probably need a special bathroom cleaner to cut through the extra layers of dirt and foam.
  • Think twice before spending money on a mold cleaner. Commercially available mold cleaning products may look like they’re doing their job, but it’s probably an illusion. Most of them use bleach (often listed as sodium hypochlorite) as the active ingredient. But the concentration of bleach in these products marketed as “fungus killers” is often five percent or less. Bleach has a short shelf life and loses strength quickly, so products that have been on the shelves for a long time become even less effective.
  • Stop buying paper towels and expensive wipe products. You can use reusable rags and sprays instead for a fraction of the price.
  • Try using a natural homemade cleaner for lighter cleaning jobs. It is much cheaper and better for the environment.
  • Repurpose items around the house to clean instead of buying new supplies – old toothbrushes are great for scrubbing tricky bits on faucets, and hobs and used dryer sheets can be reused as dusters or wipes.

Stock Images: Getty unless otherwise noted.

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