Our editors put hundreds of new sprays, wipes, detergents, and tools to the test. Our must-haves: products that are as easy to use as they are powerful. Bonus points for being safe and friendly to the planet.
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
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"Not all research is going to the moon…many chemists and engineers are developing better products and equipment to take the drudgery out of housework," reads a 1964 issue of Better Homes & Gardens. Today's scientists continue to innovate cleaning sprays, wipes, machines, and tools that are easier to use, more powerful, and most importantly, safer for your family and the planet. 

We're dedicated to keeping up with and testing these new advancements in order to bring you the best of what's on shelves. This year, we studied nearly 200 new products then tested the 100 we hoped would revolutionize home cleaning. Multiple editors used each product, comparing the contenders to each other as well as to their previous cleaning routines. We also focused on common pain points, like homes with multiple flooring surfaces, shedding pets, and dirty dishes that inevitably reappear every day.

Here, we present our lineup of favorite 2021 cleaning products. May they make your chores and daily life a little better.

kind laundry detergent sheets gain laundry swash detergent
Credit: Adam Albright

Best Laundry Products

The past year made us reevaluate our laundry routines, especially upon seeing the aftermath of laundry stripping. We tested dozens of new products to find the laundry essentials that go beyond fresh and clean to decrease waste, de-stink workout gear, and remove stains from nearly anything.

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Kind Laundry Detergent Sheets Fragrance-Free
Credit: Courtesy of Kind Laundry

Best Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergent

These laundry detergent sheets are super easy to use (just drop one in the washer with your dirty clothes) and are made with natural ingredients that get effective results, even in cold water. Bonus: The zero-waste packaging is plastic-free and 100% recyclable.

Buy It: Kind Laundry Detergent Sheets ($22 for 60 sheets, Kind Laundry)

Gain concentrated laundry detergent Essential Oils eucalyptus mindful mint
Credit: Adam Albright

Best Scented Laundry Detergent

A little goes a long way with this highly concentrated laundry detergent, and the scent lasts and lasts. One tester raved that the fresh fragrance even lasted through a long workout!

Buy It: Gain with Essential Oils ($17 for 58 ounces, Target)

Swash Laundry Detergent Free and Clear
Credit: Courtesy of Swash

Best Laundry Detergent Concentrate

Over time, using too much detergent can damage clothing and cause issues with your washing machine. Swash Laundry Detergent’s ingenious cap pre-portions the small amount needed for each load, meaning you always pour the correct amount: one squeeze per normal load or two for extra-large ones.

Buy It: Swash Laundry Detergent ($16 for 30 ounces, Amazon)

Clorox Laundry Sanitizer
Credit: Courtesy of Clorox

Best Laundry Odor Fighter

This laundry sanitizer wipes out the bacteria that cause persistent smells. Pour it into the fabric softener compartment of your washing machine and use it alongside your regular detergent to clean problem items like smelly gym clothes or pet towels.

Buy It: Clorox Laundry Sanitizer ($5 for 42 ounces, Walmart)

HEX Performance Wet Dryer Sheets Fresh and Clean Scent
Credit: Courtesy of HEX Performance

Best Dryer Sheet

These dryer sheets are premoistened with a formula meant to protect and condition your activewear during the dry cycle. They also help reduce odor so smells don’t get trapped by the wax of traditional dryer sheets.

Buy It: HEX Performance Wet Dryer Sheets ($10 for 120, HEX Performance)

stick laundry stain ingredients matter
Credit: Adam Albright

Best Laundry Stain Fighter

Fragrance-free and made with natural ingredients, this stain stick removes stubborn residue without any harsh chemicals. “Just rub onto wet fabric and watch the ketchup stains start to disappear,” raved art director (and mom of four) Christy Brokens. Plus, no rinsing required; after a wash cycle, stains are completely gone. 

Buy It: Ingredients Matter Laundry Soap Stain Stick ($7, Ingredients Matter)

Tide To Go Wipes Instant Stain Remover
Credit: Courtesy of Tide

Best Travel Laundry Stain Solution

These wipes tackle whatever befalls you on the go. Each sheet is individually wrapped and perfect for stashing in your backpack, wallet, purse, or car—wherever it’s needed most. The convenience factor makes these the perfect portable solution for stain emergencies. 

Buy It: Tide To Go Wipes ($6 for 10, Target)

floors mop cleaning surfaces shark dyson infuse
Credit: Adam Albright

Best Cleaning Products for Floors

Down and dirty no more, the task of cleaning your floors is now personalized for your surface and needs. These tough products tackle multiple surfaces, and, at least in the case of a few new robots, do the hard work for you.

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Libman Heavy Duty Wonder Mop
Credit: Adam Albright

Best Universal Mop

A robust upgrade for this cleaning classic launches in May with a bigger head and a scrub brush attached for tough spots. Like its predecessor, the fabric mop head is made with an antibacterial material and is removable and machine washable for easy cleanup. 

Buy It: Libman Heavy Duty Wonder Mop ($13, Libman)

Shark VACMOP Pro Cordless Hard Floor Vacuum Mop
Credit: Adam Albright

Best Vacuum-Mop Hybrid

This vacuum-mop hybrid sucks small bits into a chamber in the disposable mop pad. There are two options for the spray function: one for multiple surfaces and one for wood floors. Once the chamber is full, throw the disposable pad away. “I am a messy baker and I have a two-year-old with avant-garde eating techniques, so this is a lifesaver," says home editor Katy Kiick Condon. "I am thankful for it multiple times a day.” 

To Buy: Shark VacMop Pro ($80, Amazon)

Infuse Multi-surface Floor Spray Mop Meyer Lemon Cleaning Kit
Credit: Courtesy of Infuse by Casabella

Best Eco-Friendly Mop

This spray mop removes the need for a big bucket of soapy water. It comes with an empty canister you fill with tap water and a cartridge of concentrated soap small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. The mop pad is easy to remove, clean, and reattach for future use.

Buy It: Infuse Multi-Surface Floor Spray Mop Meyer Lemon Cleaning Kit ($30, Infuse by Casabella)

Dyson V11 Outsize Cordless Vacuum
Credit: Adam Albright

Best Do-It-All Vacuum

The price tag is high, but this heavy-duty cordless vacuum handles everything: carpet, hard floors, pet hair, and hand-vac pickups. The suction power and huge, easy-to-release dustbin are just a few of this vacuum's top features. It also comes with accessory attachments and an extra battery, so you can vacuum the entire house and then some. 

Buy It: Dyson V11 Outsize ($700, Amazon)

rechargeable vacuum vac onepwr
Credit: Adam Albright

Best Hand Vacuum

This hand vacuum is lightweight and easily fits into tiny spaces, including under kitchen appliances and cabinets and along baseboards in tight corners. “I thought the snout would be too small, but now I realize that’s its genius,” says home editor Amy Panos. The rechargeable and interchangeable battery also powers a fleet of other tools, including an upright vacuum, a wet/dry utility vac, and a blower to clear off your patio.

Buy It: Hoover ONEPWR Dust Chaser ($110 with battery, Walmart)

iRobot Roomba i3+ Wi-Fi Connected Robot Vacuum
Credit: Courtesy of iRobot

Best Self-Emptying Robot Vacuum

This vacuum eliminates the effort of vacuuming. It easily navigates through your home and reaches tight areas like corners and under furniture. When the robot vacuum docks to charge, its dustbin automatically empties. You only have to step in every few months to replace the vacuum bag inside the docking station.

Buy It: iRobot Roomba i3+ ($549, Amazon)

Ecovacs DEEBOT OZMO U2 Pro Vacuuming and Mopping Robot
Credit: Courtesy of ECOVACS

Best Vacuum-Mop Robot

This hybrid vacuum-mop robot makes short work of hard surfaces or carpet and area rugs. To transform the vacuum into a mop, attach the water basin and microfiber pad to give hard floors a once-over. The mop pads are easy to remove, launder, and reuse.

Buy It: Ecovacs DEEBOT OZMO U2 Pro ($350, EcoVacs)

Roborock S6 MaxV Robot Vacuum
Credit: Courtesy of Roborock

Best Smart-View Robot Vacuum

Camera sensors help this robot vacuum navigate around any unexpected obstacle, including power strips, toys, and even pet messes. Its mapping system supports up to four stories, and you can adjust the power settings for each individual room. This robot vacuum also doubles as a mop, and the intelligent mopping feature allows you to customize the water flow for each room.

Buy It: Roborock S6 MaxV ($591, Amazon)

bathroom cleaner clean well seventh toilet disinfectant
Credit: Adam Albright

Best Bathroom Cleaning Products

With so many different kinds of surfaces, the bathroom demands high-powered utility players. Whether you're cleaning the toilet, sink, tub, or shower, there's something for every surface in our list of best bathroom cleaners.

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9 Elements Bathroom Cleaner lemon scent
Credit: Adam Albright

Best Hard-Water Buster

This vinegar-based cleaner dissolves soap scum and hard water buildup on contact. The entire 9 Elements product line is formulated for homes with hard water. This bathroom cleaner was a favorite, but the entire line is effective.

Buy It: 9 Elements Bathroom Cleaner ($5 for 18 ounces, 9 Elements)

CleanWell Botanical Disinfectant Bathroom Cleaner Citrus Scent
Credit: Courtesy of CleanWell

Best Bathroom Disinfectant

Looking for one product to disinfect toilet seats, clean the sink, and remove grime from mirrors? This plant-based disinfectant kills household germs without any harsh chemicals. It's powered by Thymol, an antibacterial ingredient derived from the essential oils of herbs. 

Buy It: CleanWell Botanical Disinfectant Bathroom Cleaner ($4 for 24 ounces, Thrive Market)

Credit: Courtesy of Seventh Generation

Best Toilet Cleaner

Climate-conscious consumers will love this plastic-free line: Each product is packaged in a reusable aluminum tin (the most recycled material). The toilet bowl powder fizzes and foams upon contact with water. "I've never had this much fun cleaning a toilet before; you can hear it working," one tester claimed. "Let it fizz while you clean the rest of the room. A quick scrub and you're done." 

Buy It: Seventh Generation Zero Plastic Toilet Bowl Foaming Powder ($10, Grove Collaborative)

Scrubbing Bubbles Antibacterial Bathroom Flushable Wipes
Credit: Courtesy of Scrubbing Bubbles

Best Bathroom Cleaning Wipes

"If there's one room to embrace the convenience factor of disposable, let it be the bathroom," says home editor Katy Kiick Condon. These antibacterial wipes cut through grime and kill 99.9% of bacteria. Plus, they come in a portable, resealable sleeve that's convenient for taking on the go. Each wipe is designed to disperse in water when agitated, so it's safe to flush and won't harm septic systems.

Buy It: Scrubbing Bubbles Antibacterial Bathroom Flushable Wipes ($5 for 36, Target)

dog area in laundry room
Credit: Tessa Neustadt

Best Cleaning Products for Pet Messes

According to Mintel America's October 2020 Pet Owners Report, there are 2.3 million new pet owners since last year. And because foolproof cleanup can make puppy love a little easier, you'll want to expand your repertoire of tools to include these best pet cleaning picks.

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bounce pet dryer sheets hair laundry
Credit: Adam Albright

Best Dryer Sheet

Our testers raved that these dryer sheets not only removed pet hair but prevented more from sticking to clothes and linens. Coarse or fluffy, hair was no match! In addition to repelling pet hair, they also leave your clothes feeling soft and smelling amazing. For sensitive skin, try the unscented version. 

Buy It: Bounce Pet Hair and Lint Guard Mega Dryer Sheets ($6 for 80 sheets, Lowe's)

Bissell Pet Stain Eraser PowerBrush Cordless Portable Carpet Cleaner
Credit: Courtesy of BISSELL

Best Portable Pet Stain Cleaner

This grab-and-go cordless carpet cleaner is simple to use for stains and messes, especially the occasional accidents that come with pet potty training. Powered by a rechargeable battery, it's ready to get to work whenever and wherever you need. Plus, the machine is easy to clean after use.

Buy It: Bissell Pet Stain Eraser PowerBrush Cordless Portable Carpet Cleaner ($120, Amazon)

pets stain remover spray odor oakwood
Credit: Adam Albright

Best Pet Stain Remover

This natural and effective pet-stain remover breaks down the molecules in urine that cause stains. It also targets and permanently removes odors (including the pheromones pets are attracted to) so you don't have to worry about your pets revisiting problem areas. Bonus points for the easy-spray handle.

Buy It: Oakwood Urine Stain & Odor Remover ($13 for 8.5 ounces, Oakwood)

Aunt Fannie's Pet Home Carpet Refresher
Credit: Courtesy of Aunt Fannie's

Best Carpet Deodorizer

We like the minty scent and simple ingredient list in this all-natural odor eliminator. Formulated with baking soda and essential oils, this refresher neutralizes odors and leaves a room smelling fresh. Sprinkle freely over carpet or upholstery, wait for 15 minutes, then vacuum away. 

Buy It: Aunt Fannie's Carpet Refresher ($10 for 16 ounces, Aunt Fannie's)

Kitchen with light blue cabinets and white counters
Credit: Marie Flanigan Interiors LLC

Best Surface Cleaners

It will likely come as no surprise that cleaning sprays and wipes were especially hot this year. These standouts were both effective and able to address common pain points like waste-cutting packaging, portability, and extreme grease cutting. Countertops, light switches, doorknobs, steering wheels: If you touch it, these will clean it.

Before cleaning the surfaces in your home, make sure to read the item's label. Labels give helpful hints that make messes easier to clean as well as time frames for how long a product should sit on a surface to sanitize, or whether you need to rinse disinfected surfaces before prepping food. Pay attention to the following terms when selecting a surface cleaner:

  • Clean: Removes dirt and grime
  • Sanitize: Reduces germs to a safe level
  • Disinfect: Kills bacteria and viruses

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Grove All-Purpose Cleaning Concentrate Orange and Rosemary
Credit: Courtesy of Grove Collaborative

Best All-Purpose Concentrate

Pour the small glass vile into a spray bottle, add water, and clean away. "I'm sold. I love the zero-plastic refills, the light, natural scent, and it really works," says executive editor Oma Blaise Ford.

Buy It: Grove All-Purpose Cleaning Concentrate ($7 for two-pack, 1 ounce each, Grove Collaborative)  

Clean Republic Disinfectant & Sanitizer Hard Non-Porous Surfaces
Credit: Courtesy of Clean Republic

Best Disinfectant

This spray is the best of both worlds: Hospital-grade strength but gentle enough to use anywhere, even on counters and toys. The hypochlorous acid formula is made of electrified water and salt, and has been rated by the EPA to kill SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) as well as MRSA, HIV, and Norovirus.

Buy It: Clean Republic Disinfectant & Sanitizer ($10 for 32 ounces, Clean Republic)

CLR Active Clear Routine Clean Lemon Mist Daily Probiotics Cleanser
Credit: Courtesy of CLR

Best Grime Cutter

"This was the most effective surface cleaner I tested, by far. I followed instructions to let it sit for about 30 seconds and then everything on my counters came off. In one swipe," says digital editor Caitlin Sole. CLR Active Clear uses good bacteria to protect your home's microbiome, and once you spray it on, it helps fight dirt and odor with three days of cleaning power. Two more reasons to feel good about this one: It has USDA Biobased certification, meaning the ingredients come from renewable biological sources, and CLR is a woman-owned company.

Buy It: CLR Active Clear ($5 for 22 ounces, Lowe's)

Babyganics Toy & Highchair Cleaner Fragrance-Free
Credit: Courtesy of babyganics

Best Kid-Safe Cleaner

The organic ingredients in this spray cleaner are safe to use around kids and pets, and the spray reaches into crevices of high chairs, toys, or car seats. If you've got kids who like to be clean, try the wipes from this brand: Same safe, hardworking formula, but easy to take anywhere and pass out to helpers.

Buy It: Babyganics Toy & Highchair Cleaner ($4 for 17 ounces, Bed Bath & Beyond)

surfaces aerosol sanitizer microban spray
Credit: Adam Albright

Best Aerosol Sanitizer

The aerosol can is so easy to use and the light smell is nice ("Fresh" was our favorite, but "Citrus" was also very good.) Keep this on hand for high-touch spots like doorknobs, where it sanitizes and keeps bacteria at bay for 24 hours. It also sanitizes soft surfaces (like patio cushions), though without the 24-hour protection after spraying.

Buy It: Microban 24 Sanitizing Spray ($7 for 15 ounces, The Home Depot)

Pledge Granite & Marble Citrus Sunshine Spray
Credit: Courtesy of Pledge

Best Stone Surface Cleaner

"This has a light spray that's easy to control," says kitchen and bath editor Kit Selzer. "It gave my granite a really nice shine, and it has a very pleasant scent." Others reported reduced cloudiness and overall richer color on dark stone.

Buy It: Pledge Granite & Marble Cleaner ($5 for 9.7 ounces, Pledge)

Rejuvenate Green Natural Cabinet and Furniture Cleaner
Credit: Courtesy of Rejuvenate Products

Best Wood Cleaner

Grease spots on cabinet doors dissolved away, but the real victory was the descuffing of kickboards. The natural formula is one you can feel good about spraying around the house, and it comes with a pleasant smell.

Buy It: Rejuvenate Green Natural Cabinet and Furniture Cleaner ($7 for 32 ounces, The Home Depot)

glass spray cleaner kit good green
Credit: Adam Albright

Best Surface Cleaner Starter Kit

If you're stocking your cleaning kit from scratch or looking to go green with your setup, start here. Color-coded pods pour into spray bottles—just add water and get cleaning. The entire range earned high marks, but the glass cleaner was a standout. "It cleaned shower-door water spots, dog nose prints, even BBQ splatters on the door to the deck," says copy chief Maria Duryee.

Buy It: Good Green Cleaner Starter Kit ($43 for four reusable bottles with spray caps and four refill pods, Good Green Cleaner)

Clorox Compostable Cleaning Wipes Free and Clear
Credit: Courtesy of Clorox

Best All-Purpose Cleaning Wipes

These cleaning wipes break down in compost, a win for anyone looking for convenience but wary of creating more waste. Perhaps most importantly, though, they're effective—these wipes can tackle all sorts of messes around the house.

Buy It: Clorox Compostable Cleaning Wipes ($5 for 75 wipes, Clorox)

Arm & Hammer Essentials Disinfecting Wet Wipes Renewing Rain Scent
Credit: Courtesy of Arm & Hammer

Best Disinfectant Wipes

These wipes are certified by the EPA as an effective disinfectant, and we like that the power comes from natural citrus ingredients. The wipes are big and sturdy enough to go the distance on your cleaning circuit, and the package design keeps wipes from drying out between uses. Also, the rectangular shape is easy to stack in the cleaning closet.

Buy It: Arm & Hammer Essentials Disinfecting Wipes ($5 for 80 wipes, Lowe's)

Lysol To Go Disinfecting Wipes Lemon and Lime Blossom Scent
Credit: Courtesy of Lysol

Best Travel Cleaning Wipes

Stash these trusty travel cleaning wipes anywhere there's a pocket so you've always got one handy when you're grabbing a grocery cart, getting into the car after errands, or settling for lunch at a park picnic table.

Buy It: Lysol To Go Wipes ($1 for 15 wipes, Lysol)

Windex Electronics Wipes
Credit: Courtesy of Windex

Best Cleaning Wipes for Electronics

Perfectly timed for our collective rise in screen time, these electronics wipes are an easy fix for fingerprints and dust. Everything looks better when it's smudge-free, and we liked not having to guess if the formula was safe for touchscreens and TVs.

Buy It: Windex Electronics Wipes ($6 for 25 wipes, Office Depot

dishes soap scented dawn method cascade sponge
Credit: Adam Albright

Best Cleaning Products for Dishes

With everyone eating at home, dirty dishes seem to multiply. So we set out to find products that were effective, but also made the dishwashing experience less of a chore (and maybe even a little fun).

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OXO Soap Dispensing Sponge Holder
Credit: Courtesy of OXO

Best Sponge Holder

A rare dual-purpose product that's no gimmick, this sponge holder received a perfect score in our tests. "I had no idea I needed this!" says west coast editor Miranda Crowell. "The vented top gives the sponge proper air circulation, and the one-handed pump to soap the sponge works really well. Transcendent!" 

Buy It: OXO Soap Dispensing Sponge Holder ($18, OXO)

Dawn Ultra Platinum Powerwash Dish Spray Starter Kit Fresh Scent
Credit: Courtesy of Dawn

Best Spray Dish Soap

Our pick for tackling one greasy pan at a time, this spray is as effective as its classic liquid Dawn counterpart but even easier to use. The spray-activated suds cut through cooked-on grime and grease, so you don't need to soak anything before washing. Plus, the Free and Clear formula is ideal for the dye-averse.

Buy It: Dawn Powerwash Dish Spray ($5 for 16 ounces, Walmart)

method Honeycrisp Apple Liquid Dish Soap
Credit: Adam Albright

Best Scented Dish Soap

Rich lather, fruity scent: If there's a way to luxuriate over dishes, this is it. Who doesn't want their kitchen to smell like the crisp scent of apples? Plus, the concentrated formula doesn't take a lot of lathering to get suds, the bottle is pretty enough to leave out on the counter, and the lid flips open one-handed.

Buy It: method Honeycrisp Apple Dish Soap ($4 for 18 ounces, Target)

Cascade Platinum Dawn + Oxi Dishwasher Detergent Fresh Scent ActionPacs
Credit: Courtesy of Cascade

Best Dish Detergent

These dish detergent pods leave nothing behind, cutting through stuck-on food and leftover grease with ease (no pre-rinsing required). Our testers noted a distinct sparkle on glasses and silverware.

Buy It: Cascade Platinum + Oxi ($10 for 32, Walmart)

utility towel sponge Dropps Swedish Dishcloth
Credit: Adam Albright

Best Utility Towel

These eco-friendly yet durable towels are a total gamechanger. "They're the perfect size and weight to do everything a paper towel or a sponge does, and they air-dry quickly," one tester said. They are effective for scrubbing dishes, counters, the sink, whatever surface you can think of—and they're washable. Plus, we love the designs and zero-waste packaging. 

Buy It: Dropps Swedish Dish Cloths ($16 for 3, Dropps)

tool sticker scrape scrigit
Credit: Adam Albright

Best Utility Cleaning Tool

The size of a pencil, this plastic stick is dual-sided to scrape messes or residue from almost anything. "I was skeptical. Do I need a plastic stick to scrape off stickers? No. But it does so much more: candle wax, soap scum, paint on glass, grime in crevices. Yes, it's a fingernail saver—and a winner for scratch-off lotto tickets," says features editor Diana Dickinson.

Buy It: Scrigit Scraper Wide Blade ($12 for 3, Amazon)

By Samantha Driscoll and Katy Kiick Condon


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