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Saturday, February 22, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Five experts come clean about products they keep in their kits

Using the correct cleaner is important in getting the job done right. (Courtesy)
Using the correct cleaner is important in getting the job done right. (Courtesy)
By Lindsey M. Roberts Washington Post

If only we could use one cleaning product to get our homes spick and span. Alas, it’s just not possible, says Carolyn Forte, home appliances and cleaning products director at Good Housekeeping.

“Different areas have different soils that need different cleaners,” she explains. “Multisurface cleaners are the most versatile, cleaning counters, walls, appliances and more, but for bathrooms, carpets, windows and wood floors, you really need cleaners that are safe yet effective on those surfaces.”

We asked five expert cleaners, including a professional organizer and a housekeeper, what they keep in their house-cleaning kits.

Organized people tend to be clean people, and Amber Kostelny, a professional organizer in Chicago, knows why: “The more organized someone is, the easier it is to clean. The less clutter is out, the easier it is to clean and sanitize surfaces.” One of her favorite tough cleaners is Lysol Power Toilet Bowl Cleaner ($1.99 for 24 ounces, She finds it works especially well on hard-water stains.

As owners of Handmaiden Cleaning in Walla Walla, and founders of the American House Cleaners Association, Grace and Kevin Reynolds are picky about the products they recommend for their own cleaners and others in the industry. A favorite is Bar Keepers Friend Cleanser Powder ($1.93 for 21 ounces, “It’s excellent at cleaning stainless steel, removing hard-water buildup and stains on glass and tile,” Grace says. They will sometimes create a paste on a rag with the cleanser, an essential oil and a few drops of Dawn soap, and they make sure to wipe in the direction of the stainless steel’s grain.

For windows, Gay Browne, author of “Living With a Green Heart: How to Keep Your Body, Your Home and the Planet Healthy in a Toxic World,” uses Aspen Clean’s Natural Glass Cleaner ($7.99 for 22 ounces, Leaving no window streaks (only a lime scent), the product is made of biodegradable, plant-derived ingredients. For more house-cleaning products, Browne recommends taking a look at the Environmental Working Group’s top-rated products list (

“One of the most versatile cleaners we have ever tested at Good Housekeeping is Simple Green,” Forte says ($4.97 for 32 ounces, “It can be diluted for lots of different household uses … and it works very well on a wide variety of stains and soils.” Although dilution and instructions vary for different surfaces, Forte says the payoff is fewer bottles in the cleaning closet.

Clients with allergies ask Maxine Mills of MaxAll Cleaning Services in Florida to use products sensitive to their needs. Mills has allergies, too, and has started using citrus-based Lemi Shine Shower and Tile Cleaner for fighting mold and mildew in bathrooms ($4.09 for 28 ounces, “It leaves a great smell without being overpowering,” she says.

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