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Cult cleaners: Dyson, Enjo, Koh and more

From Dyson vacuums to Koh cleaning supplies, which products deliver the dream clean?

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Last updated: 12 July 2019

Cleaning your home isn't most people's idea of a good time. So when a product comes along that claims to make cleaning easy, it's no surprise that people are willing to pay money for it – especially when devoted fans leave scores of positive reviews online. 

But do these 'cult cleaners' actually work – or make more work for you? We take a closer look at five products to find out. 

1. Dyson vacuum cleaner

Sure, there are Electrolux enthusiasts and Bosch boffs, but nothing quite compares to the cult-like status of Dyson – by far the biggest-selling vacuum brand in Australia. After all, what other vacuum could make people readily admit they're excited about receiving one for their birthday or anniversary, instead of having a furious row with their partner?

But despite the hype and expense (the vacuums range in price from $549 to $1249), is buying a Dyson vacuum actually worth it? Well, it depends on which type of vacuum you go for. 

Dyson's barrel and upright vacs often get good overall scores in our vacuum reviews, but they aren't always recommended due to low scoring in our carpet clean tests, and they're regularly outperformed by other brands. 

But stick vacs are where Dyson really shines, with current and previous models scoring very well in our stick vacuum reviews

And with Dyson's 2018 announcement that they're moving away from traditional corded vacuums in favour of focusing on these cordless wonders, there's little doubt a Dyson stick vac will continue to be a justifiable cult buy (if you can justify the high price point, that is). 

2. iRobot Roomba

Ever since iRobot first launched the Roomba in 2002, people have bought into the idea of an autonomous robot doing the vacuuming for them. (And giving pet cats a new plaything to ride.) It seems people can't get enough of them, with iRobot recently announcing it expects at least $1.28 billion in revenue in 2019.

But despite the cult-like following and guest appearances in shows including Arrested Development and Breaking Bad (which themselves have cult-like followings), we'd advise anyone with carpet in their home to think twice before buying a Roomba.

Because while the models we've tested (Roomba 637, 980, 690, 890, 670 and E5) perform well on hard floors, they're not great at removing dirt from carpet – meaning you'll need to go over it with a regular vac, which kind of defeats the purpose of an autonomous vacuum. 

To be fair, it's not just the Roomba that sucks (or rather doesn't) on carpeted floors, the majority of robot vacuums we've tested performed just as poorly or even worse. 

That's why we haven't previously recommended any robot vacuum as a complete replacement for a regular barrel, upright or stick vacuum. But change is coming. In our latest robot vacuum review, we recommend a robot vac with a score of 71% for removing dirt from carpet – the highest we've seen. We also recommend our first ever Roomba: find out why and which model in our latest review.

But be warned. Aside from performance concerns, robot vacs can get stuck under cabinets, scare people into thinking there's a burglar in your house and, if you have pets, may turn your floors into a "Jackson Pollock poop painting". Certainly something to consider before dropping up to $1499 on a Roomba. 

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3. Bicarbonate of soda and vinegar

These are some of the most talked-about DIY options for cleaning the home, with countless blog posts and articles claiming they're more effective than their chemical counterparts at cleaning stainless-steel sinks, microwaves, stained Tupperware, countertops, toilets, cutting boards and much, much more.

But how do bicarb and vinegar stack up in the CHOICE labs? 

We've used these ingredients in some of our tests with varying results. A mixture of bicarb and vinegar scored just 48% overall in our bathroom cleaner review, while our window cleaner home recipe of equal parts water and vinegar scored 64% overall. 

When it comes to multipurpose cleaners, white vinegar scored just 30% while the top-scoring product (93%) was a dedicated multipurpose cleaner.

And as a fabric softener, white vinegar scored just 50% – although we really don't recommend you use fabric softeners at all since they have a number of downsides

We had more success with our home recipe for carpet stain remover (vinegar, dishwashing liquid and water). This concoction was the highest scoring in our test with an overall score of 80% and was one of only two products we recommended. However, our alternative home recipe (vinegar, baking soda, water and dishwashing liquid) only scored 53%, but still beat several other products including Vanish Preen Powerpowder Clean And Fresh Large Area Carpet Cleaner which received a dismal 25%.

Overall, we don't find bicarb and vinegar are equal to most cleaners on the market. It's fine if you want to use it, just be prepared to use a lot of elbow grease.

Find out which products make cleaning a breeze in our multipurpose cleaner, floor cleaner, bathroom cleaner, glass and window cleaner, toilet cleaner and carpet stain remover reviews

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4. Koh

Founded in Australia in 2016, eco-cleaning company Koh (formerly EcoWorx) has since turned over a reported $10 million and recently launched their range of cleaning products in the UK. 

The online-only company sells microfibre cloths, spray mops, sponges and more alongside their Universal Surface Cleaner – a mix of pure water and potassium mineral salts – and has inspired a cult following with thousands of fans posting gushing reviews on the company's Facebook page. 

But is the hype warranted? As we haven't yet tested Koh's products in our labs, we asked CHOICE staff, our Facebook followers and members of CHOICE Community who've used the product what they thought.* 

Many respondents echoed the positive online reviews. "Koh is fantastic. Very easy to use and I'd recommend it to others," says one CHOICE staffer. "I tried Koh for the first time last week. I used it to clean my (embarrassingly filthy) oven, and it's come up better than ever before," says a commenter on Facebook, while a member of CHOICE Community says, "I've used Koh products for a couple of years. It's great that you only need to spray and wipe over without wet wiping then using another cloth to dry. Highly recommended."

Others consider Koh's allergy-friendly claims a plus, with comments including "It's the only product I've used that actually cleans without giving off toxic fumes or upsetting my asthma" and "Koh is amazing. By not using all the chemicals we used to use, we've noticed a drastic change to allergies in our household."

But not everyone's a fan, with many commenters saying you shouldn't believe the hype: "I have to use a lot more product to get the same results compared to what I was using before, which was a standard multipurpose spray, and my hands smell like vinegar after using it", "It didn't impress me… gave the same clean as ordinary water and a microfibre cloth" and "The biggest waste of money I've ever spent. Totally overrated".

Many people also pointed out that KOH is also the chemical formula for potassium hydroxide (an ingredient in Koh's Universal Cleaner). "The Koh solution is 99.75% water and 0.25% potassium hydroxide (KOH)," says a member of CHOICE Community, "Customers are paying $29.95 for four litres of water and two teaspoons of KOH. The microfibre sponges and the scouring pad are doing the work."

While it seems our commenters are divided about whether or not Koh's cult status is justified, find out which products we can recommend in our multipurpose cleaners review

Would you like us to test Koh's Universal Surface Cleaner? Let us know at choice.com.au/requestatest

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5. Enjo

The chemical-free cleaning company was started in Austria in 1985, but it wasn't until 1994 when Perth woman Barb de Corti first started selling the products from her home that Enjo really made strides in Australia. Since then, she's helped the company amass an estimated annual revenue of $100 million as well as a legion of devoted fans. 

Enjo is a direct-selling company, but you can also buy the products online from its website. The company claims its microfibre products "provide spotless results more effectively than chemical-based toxic cleaners" using just a little water. But do they work?

In 2005, we trialled the Enjo Bathroom Glove alongside the Oates Clean Enviro Bathroom Mitt and Sabco Onewipe Cleaning Mitt Bathroom & Laundry as part of our microfibre cleaning mitts review. 

We found that microfibre mitts and cold water did seem to remove dirt (and therefore bacteria) as effectively as chemical cleaners. But the triallists disliked the level of elbow grease required and the need to wipe surfaces dry with another cloth afterwards.

We found that microfibre mitts and cold water did remove dirt as effectively as chemical cleaners

Fourteen years later, are the pros and cons the same? Since we no longer review microfibre cleaning products, we asked CHOICE staff, our Facebook followers and members of CHOICE Community their thoughts on the entire Enjo cleaning range.*  

Many are long-term users who are thrilled with the results. "I've been using Enjo for the last 18 years," says one CHOICE Community member. "I originally bought them because of skin allergy issues and my mum had cancer, so we were trying to reduce chemical usage. There are now cheaper alternatives, but the Enjo products have outlasted them." 

Another commenter says, "We've been using Enjo mops for years on our floors and they're fantastic. They're initially expensive to buy but never seem to wear out. I don't know how the company survives!" A CHOICE staffer says, "I'm a long-time user of Enjo products and other microfibre products. I love them and think they work, but I don't think they're for everyone. They require a bit of effort to get started with and need more regular (but less time-consuming) use. I like them as they don't require chemical or cleaning products."

I have some Enjo products, which are good – but I also have some torn up old pyjamas which often seem to work just as well as a $55 cloth 'glove' from Enjo

But there was also plenty of negative feedback about the high cost of Enjo's products. "My other half bought one of their cleaning cloths… I almost fell off the chair when I heard its price. While it works well, so do non-branded or cheaper cloths which retail for a fraction of the price," says a commenter. "I have some Enjo products, which are good – but I also have some torn up old pyjamas which often seem to work just as well as a $55 cloth 'glove' from Enjo. A little water and elbow grease works on most things," says another. 

Regardless, we understand that there's interest in these types of products, so if you'd like to try cleaning with microfibre cloths, we suggest buying a cheaper brand to try first. 

*Some comments have been edited for length and clarity.

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Email us at factcheck@choice.com.au or read more about fact checking at CHOICE.

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