Essential cleaning products for your home

1:04 PM

Two things came up to my attention this past week or so :

1) My going maid free posts are gaining a lot of popularity
2) How I keep my home clean and what I use to do it, is something people are very curious about.

Last year I let you in on my favourite cleaning tools, I talked mop, brooms, and duster in this shopping guide.
One of my reader asked what were the cleaning products I use and love and that is a fair enough request. In this case, ask and you shall receive.

Meet the cleaning product shopping guide! 

But before I dive in, here is a couple of things you must know. First, I am a very basic person when it comes to cleaning products, I have tried a few, liked many, but I tend to only really stick with a few basics I use for a lot of thing. Second, for a lot of things I only really use water on a daily basis, I am not to big on cleaning products if I can avoid them. And last but not least, this blog post is a SHOPPING guide, so that means that all the links below are Amazon affiliate links. This means that if you buy anything on Amazon after clicking that link, I get paid a comission (at no extra cost to you whatsoever)

Let's start with my favourite laundry detergent : 

If there is one product I have an absolute brand loyalty for it's this one : SA8 liquid from Amway. I discovered it years ago when someone tried to rope me in the whole Amway scheme which I escaped after two meetings and one failed attempt to sell me motivational CD from a parent marketing group. 

While I am not on board the whole "make money quickly" gimmick a lot of Amway people are into (not all are like that) I must admit that many of their products are really good, especially the cleaning products. 
The laundry detergent is really the only one I use because believe it or not, it's value for money and used right, this will actually cost you a lot less per load than if you use one of the many detergent powders in the market. 

That one litre bottle goes a LONG way, in my front load machine I only need half a cap per load, and at an average of 3 loads a week, this bottle last me a whooping 5-6 months. One bottle is good for 100 loads of laundry if you have a front load washing machine, 50 if you have a top load machine (these use more water, hence more detergent). And because it contains fabric softener, you don't need to buy anything extra on the side. 

I love it because I don't care much for strong perfume in laundry detergent, I have a sensitive skin and  many laundry detergent make my skin a bit itchy. On top of really washing the clothes well, and requiring a tiny amount per load, the formula is apparently environment friendly. The ultimate selling point with it though is that it preserve clothes longer and colors do not bleed as much as with other detergents like Surf Excel or Ariel. 

One of the drawback, is that until today I had no idea it was available on Amazon, and only through an Amway distributor. That seems to have been solved for now, but know that if you choose to go through an Amway business owner, you might be periodically if not constantly pushed to join their up-line as they are all after the sales commission and that part has turned into a questionable pyramid scheme. 

The kitchen surface cleaner I swear by

I have way less of a brand loyalty there, and frankly the one I use the most often is Mr Muscle Kitchen Cleaner, but for some crazy reason Amazon is only selling the overpriced imported one, so for the sake of this shopping guide I am pointing you to my other prefered choice : Colin Glass cleaner.

And yes do not let the glass cleaning part put you off, it actually works really well on kitchen counter, cabinet fronts and greasy spots.
I tend to go for Mr Muscle if it is available because in the grease department it fairs a tad big better than colin. 

The best thing about this product is that it can be used everywhere you have a smooth non porous surface to clean. 
I use it in the bathroom, on windows, on my desk, to wipe clean the screen of my phone and iPad, on the TV and occasionally when the floor is looking really dirty, I spritz it on the floor before mopping. 

On a very greasy surface like the back splash area behind the stove it is better to spray it, let it sit a few minutes and then wipe clean, as the cleaner will need a bit of time to work through thick layers of gunk. 

Though bathroom dirt solution

If you have some super tough grime, mildew and soap scum issue in your bathroom (or kitchen), nothing will beat the good old Cif cream cleaner

I don't keep it at home all the time, but if we are going for a super mega deep cleaning operation (like before Diwali), this one is usually on my shopping list. 

Between this one and my steam cleaner, hard to reach, really dirty bathroom crap stands absolutely no chance, NONE! 
This cream has an abrasive in it that will scrub the dirt away, so if you are sensitive, wear rubber gloves. 

Doing the dishes by hand? 

Look no further than the good old Vim Liquid, it lasts a while if you do the dishes yourself (maids will waste it) and it is way less abrasive than the vim bar. 
One downside is that if you have super sensitive hands, it will dry them out, so wear gloves or go for Amway Dish drops.

If you go for Amway, you must be very CAREFUL how you use it, because it is not meant to be used as is straight from the bottle. 
The bottle is the concentrated form and can fill many 500ml bottles once the solution has been properly prepared. You must refer to the instructions to know the ratio. But basically it asks you to dilute the solution in a LOT of water to make a gel that has the same consistency as your regular Vim liquid. 
I could not find it on Amazon, but Amway does sell a "mixing bottle" that you can use for all of their concentrate cleaners, the ratio for the dish liquid is printed on that bottle and all you have to do is fill it until a certain marked level with the solution and top it up with water (and re-use that bottle over and over again).

Have a dishwasher? 

Dishwasher companies will all recommend you use "Finish" products, and yes they are sold in India in some supermarkets. A cheaper and yet as good option are the Fortune brand products. I got that tip from a friend after I bought my dishwasher (can't take all the credit here).

The thing you MUST know about Dishwashers is that you will need all the products above : Special salt, rinse aid, and detergent. 

The special salt is meant to soften the water and preserve your machine. You will need to refill every time the special salt indicator is lit on your machine. And how much salt and how often you'll need to refill depends on the hardness of the water in your area. 
In my area in Mumbai it is pretty soft, so I went through a 2kg pack in one month and a half.

Rinse aid is needed to keep your glasses shiny as the detergent powder used in dishwasher is quite powerful and harsh. You will need to refill the tank every time the light on your machine lights. So far I have filled it twice, and I kept the rinse aid setting on medium. 

Detergent is something you add to every single wash. 

There are all in one tablets you can use, and if you do prefer that option, make sure to set the salt level and rinse aid level on your machine to 0. 

Wait, wait, wait! How do you clean your floor

About 98% of the time, I use NOTHING but water to clean the floor. I do it everyday, that is because I either use the scotch brite flat mop or my steam mop
When I do use a cleaning product on the floor it's when I use the spinning mop we were forced to buy with our previous demanding maid. In that case, I will pour a cap of lizol, or other floor cleaner in the bucket. 
If cheap vinegar was more comonly available in the shops around me (instead of imported or expensive organic whatever) I would use it and yes, I have done so in the past. 

Frankly I am not obsessed about my floors being germ free, I have a cat and a dog for pete sake! we know that will never happen, and beside we don't eat on the ground and I don't run a hospital, so the need to have a scented, and anti-bacterial cleaner is really not something I aspire to. 

And if you know a thing or two about cleaning the floor, you know that how clean your floor will look has pretty much nothing to do with the cleaner you use as much as it has to do with the quality AND proper usage of the mop.
Skip the detergent craze here and put all that money toward a quality mop. The scotch brite mop mentionned above is a good one to pick. 

And that is about it folks! 

As I said, I am fairly basic in my cleaning products needs, and this is pretty much the only ones you'll find in my home at all time. 
As I said, I believe the actual tools you use are more important than what products you use along with them, so spare no expenses on your mop, broom, sponges and appliances instead of on the cleaners. 

If I had to mention two other products I use regularly in my home it will have to be Vanish which I use to soak our white pillow covers in before washing them at 90 C with the bedsheets. Pillows tend to accumulate a lot of natural hair grease and vanish is the only thing that helps clean that away. 

We only use white linen on our bed, so that I can dump everything in the washing machine and wash it at a high temperature. As this is the only way to get really clean sheets, and yes, they look nice much longer than printed sheets. 

The other product I use on occasion is Drainex to clean my occasionally clogged drains. 

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  1. Most of them are in my house too :-) A nice idea to list them all in one place. Because we tend to take them so much for granted, we don't realise how valuable they are for keeping our house and things clean.


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