5 Things You Should Never Do with Your All-Purpose Cleaner

updated Mar 1, 2020
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: PeopleImages/Getty Images

Every single one of us here probably has an all-purpose cleaner (or three) in their cleaning arsenals. And we support that: They usually smell super great, are highly effective, come in environmentally friendly options, and help us streamline our supplies. But “all-purpose” may be somewhat of a misnomer. While an all-purpose cleaner can be used to clean many things, it shouldn’t be used to clean all the things.

Here are some things you should never do with an all-purpose cleaner.

1. Don’t spray it on your windows.

Whatever you spritz your window with needs to be formulated for streak-free cleaning. While your all-purpose cleaner might list glass, it may not leave a crystal-clear finish on windows or mirrors. An effective window cleaner usually includes ingredients that evaporate quickly and leave no residue. Try a simple DIY solution of vinegar and water with a microfiber cloth or, my personal favorite, Alvin Corn

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

2. Don’t use it to clean wood furniture.

Unless your wooden furniture has a plastic coating, don’t ever use all-purpose cleaner on it. All-purpose cleaner is too wet and may also contain ingredients that will discolor or otherwise harm your wood over time. Instead of an all-purpose cleaner, try an oil soap for cleaning and follow up with a polish or paste wax for protection. 

3. Don’t use it on leather.

As with wood, leather can also be damaged by the ingredients in an all-purpose cleaner. Your first line of defense when cleaning leather should be regular dusting and vacuuming. When it needs a bit more of a cleaning, dampen a microfiber cloth with a bit of water and wipe the leather.

4. Don’t use it to clean items that need disinfecting.

Unless otherwise noted, your all-purpose cleaner probably doesn’t disinfect. (Meaning it doesn’t kill germs.) Whether we’re talking about the kitchen sink, a very grimy countertop, doorknobs around the house when someone has the flu, disinfecting solutions, rather than all-purpose ones, are going to be your better bets.

Credit: Faith Durand

5. Don’t use it to clean natural stone … unless you’ve read the label.

Some all-purpose cleaners may be perfectly fine for granite countertops and other natural stone. Just be sure to check the label and ingredients first! An all-purpose cleaner that isn’t formulated for use on natural stone or that contains acidic ingredients will eat away at the sealant and at the stone itself, which will dull it over time.