These Brand-Name Cleaning Products Are a Total Waste of Money

Not all cleaning products are created equal. Or are they? Budgeting for useful household products and other cleaners requires a good chunk of cash, but knowing when to splurge and when to hold back can help cut back on the damage.

Many generic cleaning products actually work just as well as the pricier name-brand counterpart, meaning it’s likely you’re overspending simply because their expensive advertising campaign convinced you to do so. Just because a product is brand name doesn’t mean it’s any better. Here are the products that don’t need a name brand to work well, and the ones that definitely do!

10 name brand cleaning products that aren’t worth the money

Most generic cleaners use the same ingredients as their comparable name brand competitor. When that’s the case, you could be wasting countless dollars on overpriced products you don’t need. Here are 10 common examples.

1. Swiffer mops

Swiffer sweeper mop

The generic works just as well. | Amazon

Spending a couple extra bucks for the Swiffer mop starter kit may be a waste of money — especially when it comes time to buy refill pads. Cheapism notes generic floor cleaners works just as well as brand names and can be substituted with your Swiffer kit. You can save 60% when buying generic refills. Then, double down on savings by flipping the mop sheets to the clean side for double the use.

Next: Don’t waste your money on this iconic brand

2. Clorox bleach

Clorox Bleach

It doesn’t work any better than store brand. | Amazon

Bleach is a common disinfectant found in most cleaning products. Clorox may be the most popular brand, but it’s not actually any better than the store-label version. Bleach is made of chemical compounds that are hard to differentiate between brand labels. Therefore, bleach cleaners like sanitizing wipes work just as well as the name brand and cost way less money.

Next: A popular infomercial product that’s probably overpriced

3. OxiClean

Oxi clean

The most effective ingredient can be bought for less. | Amazon

OxiClean is an overpriced product for the same reason Clorox brand cleaning products are a waste of money. Everyday Cheapskate says OxiClean is merely a non-chlorine bleach masquerading as a laundry detergent and stain remover. It’s most active and effective ingredient is sodium percarbonate, which can be bought in bulk and mixed with hot water for much cheaper than the flashy name brand seen in every late-night infomercial.

Next: A carpet cleaning hack

4. Carpet cleaner

Housewife cleaning carpet

Baking soda or hydrogen peroxide work just as well. | scyther5/iStock/Getty Images

You’ll spend way too much money on any version of brand-name carpet cleaners. Baking soda can actually freshen carpets just as effectively as expensive specialty products. Cheapism suggests you let the powder sit for 15 to 25 minutes before vacuuming up for the best results. Hydrogen peroxide is another safe stain-removing substitute that will cost much less than what’s on store shelves.

Next: A lesser-known substitute

5. Arm & Hammer Washing Soda

Arm and Hammer washing soda

Don’t waste money on the brand name. | Amazon

Extreme Cheapskate’s comparative lesson also revealed Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda is also a waste of money. Its generic counterpart goes by the name soda ash, and can be bought in bulk under that name for much cheaper. If you’re really looking to pinch pennies, you can use soda ash to mix your own laundry detergent that costs only cents per load to make.

Next: Is this popular celebrity-endorsed product a rip off?

6. The Honest Company products

Green cleaning products are often a waste of money. | The Honest Company

Jessica Alba’s The Honest Company sells a variety of baby and personal-care products, such as diapers, baby wipes, soap, face wash, and shampoo. Many Americans are willing to pay a premium for these organic, eco-friendly products, even though they contain the same regulated chemicals other products have that the government deems safe.

The Honest Company products are fragrance-free, which helps cut the chemicals found in competitor products even further, but they’re not completely chemical-free. Plus, experts say green cleaning products are a waste of money in general. Generic products will work just as well.

Next: A cheaper solution for your bathroom tile

7. Tile and grout cleaner

Tile and grout cleaner

Generic or homemade works just as well. | Amazon

Many cleaning experts believe name-brand grout and tile cleaners are overpriced compared to generic or homemade options. While you need to allow the generic brand more time to work its magic on infected areas, the end result will be the same. Also, it’s entirely possible to substitute vinegar or baking soda paste in place of both generic and name-brand cleaners in this instance. Both homemade solutions work wonders as a disinfectant and cleaner.

Next: Are you spending too much money on furniture cleaning products?

8. Pledge dusting spray

Pledge furniture polish

You can get a version from the dollar store. | Amazon

The same Cheapism consumers believe generic dust spray is comparable to Pledge, a much pricier dusting spray. Similar furniture polish can be found at the dollar store, Walmart, and Amazon for a low price. Oh, and forget about buying dust rags to wipe down your dirty furniture. As you’ll see next, there’s a cheaper option for that, too.

Next: The cheaper option for dust wipes

9. Dust wipes

Clorox dusting wipes

There are so many cheaper options. | Amazon

One scroll through Amazon’s online marketplace will showcase a variety of dust rags, mitts, and wipes made by either Clorox or Rubbermaid. Those popular options work just fine, but if you’d like to cut back on how much money you waste on cleaning sprees, you can use old t-shirts instead. Dryer sheets also have enough static absorbing qualities to catch the dust mites hiding in your window blinds.

Next: Save dollars cleaning windows

10. Windex


Some even like the generic better. | Amazon

When Andria Alexander of Simple Frugal Living blind-tested Windex vs. generic glass cleaner, she found she choose option B, the generic product. She told CBS Pittsburgh the off-brand performed better on her stove but left a few streaks on her windows. Still, she opted for the generic, as it was $2.50 cheaper than branded Windex.

Next: Here’s when you should spend money

5 cleaning products that are worth splurging on

While many products aren’t worth their high-profile reputation, others most definitely are. It’d be worthwhile to spend a bit more for these five cleaning products if you want the job done right the first time.

1. Bounty paper towels

Bounty paper towels are worth the hype. | Amazon

The same Simple Frugal Living test revealed name brand paper towels like Bounty outperformed generic versions and could be worth the extra cash. Andria Alexander thinks it’s all about quality over quantity in this instance saying, “I like the thickness of the paper towel. I liked that it lasted me longer. I didn’t go through as much of it.”

Next: What about dish soap?

2. Dawn dish soap

Pay more for the quality stuff. | Amazon

When it comes to comparing name brand vs generic dish soaps, consumers can tell the difference. Alexander thought the pricier brand produced more suds that allowed her to use less product when cleaning her dishes. Much like the paper products, it might not be worth going for what’s cheapest if you’ll end up needing more if it over time.

Next: The truth about laundry detergent

3. Laundry detergent

Tide detergent

Go for the name brand. | Karen Bennett/The Cheat Sheet

Prices on laundry detergents fluctuate, but the general consensus is that branded products are more powerful than their generic counterparts. Bright Nest says the average price difference between generic and branded laundry detergent is around $2 and if you find a brand that works for your family, you should stick with it. Not only will generic powered detergent stay on your clothes after washing, but it’s less effective at removing stains.

Next: Don’t throw money in the trash!

4. Trash bags

Glad garbage bag

The last thing you want is your trash flying everywhere. | Amazon

Sometimes, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to comparing cleaning products. Generic garbage bags tear easier and could lead to one heck of a mess should they break when full. The ties are also less sturdy, so it’s wise to fork over an extra dollar or two for Glad or Hefty brand trash bags.

Next: Name brand products worth the extra dollar

5. Cleaning pads

Magic Eraser

They truly are magical. | Dollar Tree

Most product testers believe it’s unwise to buy generic versions of cleaning pads when trying to save a buck. They tend to rip easily and don’t work at removing tough stains as well. Name-brand versions like Mr. Clean and Brillo are worth the added expense because they offer stronger products that clean with few pads. The good news is you can cut each pad in half and get double the use of these cleaning products without overspending.

Follow Lauren on Twitter @la_hamer.

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