Consumer NZ finds majority of multi-purpose cleaners perform only slightly better than water

A new Consumer NZ study has found many of the multi-purpose cleaners available on supermarket shelves perform only slightly better than water. 

The product watchdog released the results of a new study on Monday after testing 28 multi-purpose cleaners and ranking them on a scale from "terrible - don't buy" to "excellent".

Testing occurred by Consumer NZ employees covering a PVC sheet in a greasy soil then, following the manufacturer's instructions on applying the cleaner, using a mechanical arm to clean the sheet. 

"Cleanliness is assessed with a spectrophotometer before and after scrubbing. We repeat this test four times and the results are averaged to obtain our overall score," said a spokesperson. 

According to the results, 17 of the products were only marginally better than plain water or a water/vinegar solution. 

Some of the "terrible" products included 'Ajax Spray n Wipe Multipurpose', 'Ecostore Multi-Purpose Cleaner Antibacterial' and '30 Seconds Multi-Surface Cleaner', which all scored between 31 and 33 percent in the evaluation. 

household cleaners
Some of the cleaners ranked "terrible" in the Consumer NZ study. Photo credit: Supplied.

For comparison, the cleaning power of water and a water-and-vinegar solution each scored just 30 percent. 

"If you're using a multi-purpose cleaner, you'd expect it to clean much better than water. These products don't seem to provide any benefit to keeping surfaces clean and you could well be throwing money down the drain," Consumer NZ test content team leader James le Page said. 

"Our test is a tough one, testing how well a cleaner removes greasy dirt. You may not need such a tough cleaner for everyday cleaning, but when you're scrubbing the backs of cupboards, behind the fridge or a sticky table that's had little hands all over it, you want a cleaner that definitely works."

But Ecostore research and development manager Huia Iti counters the claims.

"We stand by the product quality tests we have had carried out by independent experts giving us assurance of the quality of our products," he told Newshub. 

"As well as performance results, we provide consumers a guarantee of product safety from a people and planet perspective, ensuring they are respectful, responsible and ethical throughout the entirety of their life cycle."

On the other end of the scale, only seven products came out with "good" or "excellent" ratings in the Consumer NZ study, including several budget options. 

Value brand's 'Orange Multipurpose spray cleaner' and 'Lemon Creme Cleaner' received "excellent" ratings - 92 and 93 respectively. 

'Mr Muscle All Purpose Household grade disinfectant' was the top-rated product, scoring 95 percent. It is also one of the cheapest, at only 60c per 100ml.  

Several of the 'excellent' cleaning products listed by the study.
Several of the 'excellent' cleaning products listed by the study. Photo credit: Supplied.

The news may come as further unwelcome news after a cleaning professional revealed many of us have been using household cleaners wrong on TikTok last month.

The owner of Australia's The Big Clean Co revealed disinfectant sprays like Dettol or Ajax, or even more natural options like Ecostore, need time to sit and do their thing, usually about 10 minutes. In fact, many sprays state this on the label.