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Floor cleaners

The Shonky Award for... being flawed cleaners.

Shonky winners 2020Floor cleaners
CHOICE staff
CHOICE staff
Fact-checked

Fact-checked

Checked for accuracy by our qualified fact-checkers and verifiers. Find out more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

It takes about 50 cents' worth of your average floor cleaner to get the job done. True, this probably wouldn't send most people straight to the poorhouse, but it adds up over time. So what if we told you that you could use the bucket of water without the cleaning product in it – and get the same result?

The plain fact is that most floor cleaners don't make a measurable difference when it comes to everyday cleaning. Sure, if there's a particular stain or spill you're trying to mop up, they may add some extra oomph. But, by and large, they really just make your floor smell cleaner and look shinier.

You could use the bucket of water without the cleaning product in it – and get the same result 

How did we come by this watershed revelation? We put 15 popular brands to the test in our labs, and only two floor cleaners edged out water (with scores of 41% for the cleaners compared with 40% for water).

We gave that same 40% score to 10 other floor-cleaning brands, and three scored 39%, meaning they were actually outperformed by humble water alone!

It's not necessarily that the active ingredients in the products don't work – it's more that they're not present in large enough amounts to make a difference.

CHOICE home-cleaning expert Ashley Iredale was deeply unimpressed by the floor cleaners' performance.

"We tested these floor cleaners in a scientific setting against typical soils that you're likely to find in your own home and found that, despite how expensive they are compared with water, they didn't perform any better," says Iredale. "When you take, say, 50 millilitres of ammonia and dilute it with five litres of water, you're really not going to get much performance at all."

He also says it’s hard for people to make informed choices because so many cleaning products don’t really tell you what’s in them.  

“It doesn’t help that most of the cleaners don’t list the ingredients or even the active cleaning ingredients on the bottle, let alone the percentage of these ingredients,” he says. 

In the end, his advice is simple: “If you want your floors clean just use a plain old bucket of hot water. Save your money.”

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