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Is the Koh Universal Surface Cleaner any good?

This cult cleaner gets a lot of air time. We put it to the test to see whether it lives up to the hype.

koh universal cleaner user trial
Last updated: 03 May 2024

Advertisements for cleaning products always promise the world: they'll bust all types of dirt, grease and grime and leave your home sparkling clean with minimal effort. 

Koh takes this to the next level, promising a clean house and a cleaner planet with a product that's made of just plain water and a dash of potassium mineral salts. 

Can a product with just one active ingredient really compete with products loaded with hard-core chemicals?

But can a product with just one active ingredient (and a miniscule amount of it, at that) really compete with products loaded with hard-core chemicals?

Our experts put it to the test to help you decide whether it's worth it or whether you should stick with your current cleaning products. 

koh universal cleaner

Koh Universal Surface Cleaner.

What is Koh, and what's the big deal?

TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and review sites are abuzz with ecstatic Koh converts declaring their love for the product, complete with before-and-after photos of sparkling grout, rejuvenated oven doors, and refreshed couch cushions.

So what's Koh's story?

Formerly EcoWorx, Koh is an Australian company that's best known for its Universal Surface Cleaner, a surface spray made of water and 0.5% potassium hydroxide (KOH, hence the company name). 

Its main selling points are that it's allergy friendly, environmentally friendly, manufactured in Australia, and can be used on most household surfaces, including glass and ovens.

Many people love that it doesn't contain a long list of ingredients, and that it replaces multiple other cleaning products. 

The company also sells Koh-branded cleaning tools such as a spray mop, grout brush and 'diamond sponge', plus laundry detergent, dishwasher tablets, dishwashing liquid, toilet cleaner and surface sanitiser.

Is Koh Universal Surface Cleaner any good?

According to the company, you can use the Universal Cleaner on just about any surface, however we tested it solely as a surface cleaner alongside 44 other multipurpose cleaners.

So, how did the Koh Universal Cleaner perform in our lab tests?

koh universal cleaner ultimate multi purpose

The Koh surface cleaner refill pouch.

Quite well! Our experts gave it a CHOICE Expert Rating of 90%, making it one of the top scoring products overall.

They also gave it the CHOICE Recommended seal of approval  – an accolade given to only 7 of the 46 multipurpose cleaners we tested.

However, of all the multipurpose cleaners recommended by our experts, it's one of the most expensive at $1.11 per 100mL*. By comparison, you can buy Earth Choice Antibacterial, which scored 95% in our testing, for just 67 cents per 100mL.

Of course, price isn't everything, and you may be drawn to Koh for other reasons, but it is something to consider if you're on a budget.

*Price paid at time of CHOICE testing.

Koh FAQs

Here are the answers to your burning questions about Koh's Universal Surface Cleaner.

Where can you buy Koh cleaning products?

You can buy the full range of Koh products on the Koh website and Amazon, and a smaller selection of the products are sold in some Woolworths stores.

What ingredients does Koh contain?

Koh's Universal Surface Cleaner is made up of pure water and potassium hydroxide – an inorganic compound used to make soap and cleaning solutions (you may have heard it called caustic potash or lye). 

It's also used as an electrolyte in alkaline batteries, as a food stabiliser, and in some liquid drain cleaners at levels up to 36%.

While it's a caustic chemical, since the Universal Surface Cleaner only contains 0.5% potassium hydroxide it's a very diluted solution.

koh surface cleaner starter kit

The Koh Surface Starter Kit.

How much does Koh cost?

Koh sells what it calls "starter kits", which are bundles of Koh products to get you started with its products. You can also buy the products individually. 

At the time of publishing, a Surface Starter Kit costs $55.90. It contains a Koh spray bottle, a 1.8L refill pouch and a four-pack of Koh microfibre cloths. 

If you want to buy products separately, a 1.8L refill pouch costs $19.95, a 4L refill box is $34.95, a Koh spray bottle is $14.95 and a four-pack of Koh cloths is $34.95. 

You'll also need to add postage costs: $9.95 for metro areas and $11.95 for regional postcodes. For orders over $99, shipping is free.

For current prices and product availability, check the Koh website.

How do you clean with Koh?

For regular cleaning, spray dry surfaces with Koh, then wipe dry. 

For dirtier surfaces, spray and leave for 1–3 minutes, then wipe as usual. 

What surfaces can you use Koh on?

As the name suggests, you can use Koh Universal Cleaner on just about any surface in your home. Some of the things the company says you can clean with its product include:

  • kitchens
  • bathrooms
  • ovens
  • wood
  • laminates
  • stone
  • chrome
  • glass
  • mirror
  • stainless steel
  • fabrics
  • leather
  • textiles
  • hard floors
  • organic stains
  • odours.

Koh Universal Surface Cleaner – the pros and cons

Koh pros:

  • Contains only one active ingredient (potassium hydroxide), in a very small amount.
  • Reusing the spray bottle and buying refills reduces single-use plastics, and the refill pouches are recyclable in regular kerbside recycling bins.
  • Only one active ingredient means fewer chemicals going down the drain into our waterways.
  • It's fragrance-free and carries the National Asthma Council's Sensitive Choice certification, plus the Allergy UK symbol. It's also GECA certified.
  • Not tested on animals.
  • Phosphate and ammonia free. 
  • Septic and greywater safe.
  • Made in Australia.
  • 30-day money-back guarantee. (But see below for comments about the company's customer service.)

Koh cons

  • It's not cheap: $19.95 for an 1800mL pouch, which equates to $1.11 per 100mL.
  • With an active ingredient content of just 0.5%, you're buying a product that's 99.5% water. 
  • The Koh cleaning tools aren't cheap. The bottle alone is $14.95, and then you'll need to add the price of the cleaner itself, or you can buy it as part of a surface starter kit ($55.90). Koh also recommends using its cloths ($34.95), spray mop ($69.95), diamond sponge ($11.95), mop pads ($37.95) and more. (Though theoretically you could use any spray bottle, cloth or other cleaning tools with the cleaning product.)
  • Koh products aren't available at all supermarkets, so you may not be able to pick them up with the rest of your groceries. If your local Woolworths doesn't stock them, you'll need to buy them online through the Koh website, Amazon or Woolworths. (A few smaller retailers list them, as well as some sellers on eBay.)
  • Shipping is $9.95, except for orders $99 and over. If you're in a regional area, the price goes up to $11.95. 
  • Many people who left lower ratings for Koh on cited poor customer service as one reason they were dissatisfied with the product, with lack of response to requests, unwillingness to replace or refund for faulty products or products delivered with items missing, and no refunds offered for products that didn't arrive. 
  • If you want to return the product, you'll need to pay for postage yourself.
  • Some customers say that it doesn't work on especially dirty or greasy surfaces. 

Are other Koh products any good?

Koh has branched out from its original Universal Surface Cleaner and now offers a range of other cleaning products.

While the surface cleaner has only one active ingredient, Koh's dishwasher tablets and dishwashing liquid have slightly longer ingredients lists – around 7 each. It's still far less than other products, and some manufacturers don't even list the ingredients in their products so Koh gets some brownie points for being transparent. 

Here's how Koh's other products performed in our testing.

koh dishwashing tablets

Koh Dishwashing Tablets.

Koh Dishwashing Tablets

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 60%
  • Cost per wash: 54 cents

Koh's performance in our dishwasher detergent tests was a bit disappointing. It shares last place for all the tablets we tested with cheap-as-chips dishwashing tablets from Woolworths. 

It worked very well on egg yolk and minced meat stains, but our experts rated it as "Poor" for removing rice starch and coffee. 

While it's not the most expensive product we tested, it's still not great value for money given its performance. By comparison, the top scoring dishwasher detergent, Aldi Logix Platinum 18 in 1, costs just 19 cents per wash.

A number of CHOICE members swear by these tablets, rating them four or five stars. However, some of these members mention that they use them in CHOICE Recommended dishwashers. 

"Your dishwasher's performance is more important than the detergent you use – as long as you have a good dishwasher, you'll most likely get good results regardless of the detergent you buy," says CHOICE's head of reviews and testing, Matthew Steen.

Read the full Koh Dishwashing Tablets review.

koh universal dish liquid

Koh Universal Dish Liquid.

Koh Universal Dish Liquid

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 65%
  • Cost per 100mL: $1.33

Koh's dishwashing liquid didn't fare much better than its dishwasher tablets, coming in only slightly ahead of the bottom performers that our experts rated at 60%. 

It's not the most expensive dishwashing liquid we tested, but it's certainly up there. The top scoring product in our test, Aldi Tandil Ultra, costs just 40 cents per 100mL. 

Read the full Koh Universal Dish Liquid review.

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.