Make Everything Sparkle: ShopSmart Solves America's Most Pressing Cleaning Questions

Mar 14, 2011, 18:00 ET from ShopSmart Magazine

-- 14 Top Rated Cleaning Products and Tools Revealed --

YONKERS, N.Y., March 14, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Clogged drains, baked-on explosions in your microwave, moldy bathrooms, rings in toilets and tubs, lingering pet odors, and stained carpets. Those are some of the top cleaning challenges, according to ShopSmart's readers. The April 2011 issue of ShopSmart magazine, from the publisher of Consumer Reports, features a guide that solves these and more of the most pressing cleaning concerns and names 14 of the best, cheapest, most effective, and safest products to make your home sparkle.

"We had our experts work to find the answers to some of the toughest cleaning conundrums," said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart. "We performed lab tests to find the best cleaning products and tools to get the job done at an affordable price. Plus we came up with homemade remedies and ways you can easily change your daily habits to keep your home as tidy as possible between major cleaning sessions."

Cleaning Made Easy

Here is a sampling of ShopSmart's advice to tackle tough cleaning:

  1. Keep drains from getting clogged and clear them without chemicals: To keep drains free-flowing, don't pour cooking oil, grease, or other fats into them. Pour leftover grease into a can, then toss it out with the trash. Don't dump stuff that clumps, like rice and coffee grounds, in drains, either. Outfit all sinks with strainers to catch food, fibers, and hair, and clean them out regularly. And flush kitchen drains regularly with a few gallons of boiling water, which can clear away built-up grease and soap.
  2. The easiest way to clean the microwave, especially baked-on tomato sauce: To speed-clean and mask odors, place a small bowl with about one-quarter cup of fresh lemon juice in your microwave. Then run it on high for 1 minute. Remove the bowl and wipe the oven cavity, using the condensation that formed to clean it. Those baked-on tomato stains should be easy to get off with plain water. Repeat if necessary, and scrape off any stubborn gunk with a plastic credit card. Just don't scrape the glass window; that could damage it.
  3. Prevent the growth of mold or mildew on grout: To scrub away surface mold, use a disinfectant cleaner with bleach. If the mold returns quickly, apply a mold-resistant sealer over the grout. But if mold spots appear after sealing, scrape out the mildewed grout and apply new grout. Recurring mold may also signal a bigger problem, like a leak or condensation forming behind the wall.
  4. Rid your toilet bowl hard water ring: Use a cleaner with some abrasive muscle to attack rust and stains. ShopSmart recommends Comet which is inexpensive and beat out the liquid toilet bowl cleaners and a competing powder cleaner by Kaboom in lab tests. Also clean your bowl more often to keep stains from building up.
  5. Clean up a pet accident without the chemical smell: Try this homemade cleaner: Mix 1 teaspoon mild, clear dishwashing detergent with 1 cup of warm water, and blot (never rub or scrub) the area. If that doesn't work, try a mix of one-third cup white vinegar to two-thirds cup water. Or zap the spot—plus about a foot of the carpet surrounding it—with an enzyme-based pet odor remover.
  6. Remove dark stains from light carpet: For wine or grape juice, first blot with water, then blot with a solution made from 1 teaspoon of liquid detergent mixed with a cup of warm water. If that doesn't work, dab on some 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, making sure to use a fresh bottle. If that fails, call in a professional cleaner.

ShopSmart's Top Rated Products and Tools

Lab tests reveal the most effective, affordable, and environmentally-friendly cleaners:

  • Best Glass Cleaner: Sprayway, $4.39
  • Best Smoothtop Stove Cleaner: Cerama Bryte 20618, $4.48
  • Best Stainless-Steel Cleaner: Stainless Steel Magic, $4.99
  • Best Dishwasher Detergent: Finish Quantum, $5.93/Box of 20
  • Best Dishwashing Liquid: Ajax Lemon, $3.19
  • Best Multi-Use Disinfectant: Comet with Bleach, $1.15
  • Best Steam Mop: Eureka Envirosteamer 313A, $70
  • Best Pet Hair Cleaner: Pledge Fabric Sweeper, $5.59
  • Best Vacuum: LG LUV400T, $550
  • Best Rug Shampooer: Bissell Pro Heat 2X9200, $250
  • Best "Green" All Purpose Cleaner: Nature's Source, $3.19
  • Best "Green" Bathroom Cleaner: Green Works Natural Bathroom Cleaner, $3.00
  • Best "Green" Laundry Detergent: Kirkland Signature Environmentally Friendly Ultra 2X HE, $13
  • Best "Green" Toilet Bowl Cleaner: Seventh Generation, $4.00

About ShopSmart magazine:

Launched in Fall 2006 by Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, ShopSmart draws upon Consumer Reports' celebrated tradition of accepting no advertisements and providing unbiased product reviews. The magazine features product reviews, shopping tips on how to get the most out of products and "best of the best" lists. ShopSmart is ideal for busy shoppers who place a premium on time. ShopSmart has a newsstand price of $4.99 and is available nationwide at major retailers including Barnes & Noble, Wal-Mart, Borders, Kroger, Safeway and Publix. ShopSmart is available by subscription at

SOURCE ShopSmart Magazine