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Pine-Sol triumphs as best all-purpose cleaner in Consumer Reports test

Consumer Reports recently tested all-purpose cleaners. (Thinkstock)Looking for an all-purpose cleaner that lives up to its claims?

Consumer Reports tested 19 all-purpose cleaners against tough kitchen stains, soap scum and mineral deposits. The only product to live up to its claims and clean effectively without streaking? The affordable standby, Pine-Sol.

"In our tough tests, only Pine-Sol Original cleaned well enough to be recommended, earning high marks on all stains," the magazine reports.

"Pine-Sol's only drawback is that it pours rather than sprays. But with convenience comes less cleaning power. Although several sprays excelled at one or two tasks in our all-purpose cleaner tests, they stopped short of being all-purpose," Consumer Reports concludes.

The American magazine found some "green" cleaners to stand out as fairly effective sprays — specifically those from Green Works and Seventh Generation — but warns that not all green claims are meaningful.

[See also: Surprising facts about laundry soaps]

The non-meaningful terms included "natural," "earth-friendly," "ecological," and "nontoxic." No standards exist for these terms, so look for more specific claims.

"USDA Organic," "Leaping Bunny," and "EPA's Design for the Environment (DfE)," on the other hand, are all terms that are verified and regulated.

See the list of meaningful terms here.

The test didn't only involve commercial all-purpose cleaning products. One tried-and-true "home brew" did quite well: vinegar and water.

"We tested a few home brews, including one made with equal parts water and white vinegar. Its overall score topped every commercial spray, especially when it came to streak-free results. But it left behind a strong vinegar smell and fared poorly in our surface-staining test," testers report.

What products do you use to tackle tough stains and soap scum?

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