Cleaning Supplies That Are 'Essential' For Every Home -- Are They Worth It?

by Caila Smith
Cleaning supplies next to a mop and a blue bucket

Instead of being a rational person and simply getting up to clean my house when it’s in disaster mode, I tend to buy more cleaning supplies than I need as a motivator. The result has flooded my cleaning supplies cabinet, and I know I can’t be alone in this.

The Washington Post recently came out with a list of essential cleaning supplies. I was surprised to see that the list was relatively short, and all of the items were but a small collection of what I have in my cleaning closet. But I guess that’s the point. Americans have too much “stuff” when, usually, the basics would do.

Dishwashing Cleaning Supplies


I use blue Dawn dish soap for just about everything. I use it for my dishes, my glass shower doors, sticky residue for my floors, and I even utilize it as a shampoo for my dogs. Because if it’s good enough for baby ducks, it’s good enough for my pups, too.

Mrs. Meyer’s dish soap

The great thing about Mrs. Meyer’s is its long-lasting, not-too-pungent smell (basil is my favorite). It’s also all-natural, gentle on sensitive skin, and packaged in an aesthetically pleasing way, something that is all the rave right now. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find various scents in stores near me, and it’s not as tough on grease as Dawn.

Blueland dishwasher tablets

Although more costly than your average dishwasher tabs, Blueland Co. prides itself on being eco-friendly with its compostable tablets. These tablets were the only item I didn’t have on my essential cleaning list. I was skeptical about how clean it would get my dishes but was pleasantly surprised at the outcome when they didn’t even leave a slight film on my glass dishes.

Cascade Platinum ActionPacs

These ActionPacs are our family’s go-to for dishwashing. I usually load our dishwasher to the fullest extent (something you aren’t supposed to do, I know), and one ActionPac gets my dishes thoroughly clean. However, they do leave a small film, so we usually pair them with rinse aid.

Glass Cleaning Supplies


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DIY Alvin Corn

I’d never heard of Alvin Corn before and quickly learned that it gets its funky name from the combination of its ingredients: alcohol, vinegar, and cornstarch. So, by combing 1/4 cup of rubbing alcohol, 1/4 cup of vinegar, 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, and 2 cups of warm water, in a spray bottle, you too can have a cost-effective, DIY glass cleaner.

Windex vinegar glass cleaner

While I prefer to buy the Windex all-in-one cleaner, I’m a sucker for cleaning supplies with vinegar so long as I can’t smell it. This product masks the vinegar smell perfectly while leaving mirrors and glass with a streak-free shine that’s lasting.

Bar Keeper’s Friend

There could never be enough Bar Keeper’s Friend bottles in this household. Although you should be mindful of what surfaces you use it on, it beautifully removes grime and mildew from surfaces like brass and stainless steel. I use it on my granite countertop in my bathroom to make it really shine.

Pantry Cleaning Supplies

White Vinegar

I’ve already mentioned how I’m not too fond of the vinegar smell. But with a few drops of essential oils, white vinegar works wonderfully as an everyday cleaner. For example, when my hardwood floors get filthy, I dilute white vinegar and use it as a floor cleaner. It’s also great to use on faucets in the kitchen and bathroom, where grime tends to build up. Simply pour white vinegar in a plastic baggie, tie around the head of your faucet, and leave it overnight. By the morning, all you have to do is wipe it down, and voila! Good as new.

Baking Soda

Not only is baking soda a natural deodorizer, but it’s one of the safest cleaning supplies out there. When used alone or with water, it’s safe enough to eat, which makes it the best kitchen cleaner out there. I like to use baking soda to clean my microwave. It doesn’t have any harsh chemicals that will cause my microwave to malfunction, and I’ll feel better about eating food out of it after a thorough clean.

All in all, these essential household cleaners could very well keep your home sparkling. But for families like mine, the list could use some expansion.

I have quite a bit of wood furniture, and my house never feels thoroughly cleaned until wood surfaces are polished. For that, I use something basic like Pledge. (Fun fact: you can use Pledge on your stainless steel, and it shines better than any stainless steel cleaner I’ve found on the market). For bathrooms, I’ve discovered that Scrubbing Bubbles products work best for me.

When it comes to cleaning, sometimes less is more. You don’t need to spend unnecessary money on the newest name-brand products to have a clean house. And, yes, that goes for me, too.