The pros at the Good Housekeeping Institute’s Cleaning Lab understand the importance — and challenges — of finding the right cleaning products to tackle household chores. For decades, we have provided advice and product testing recommendations to help you select the cleaning formulas and appliances that work best, are easiest to use and save you time and effort. We’re thrilled to present our third annual Best Cleaning Product Awards to showcase the top-performing, most innovative products that make quick work of caring for you home.
Meet the Experts
How We Tested
To select these 57 top-performers for our 2021 Good Housekeeping Cleaning Awards, our GH Cleaning Lab and GH Institute pros as well as almost 70 consumer testers washed, scrubbed, vacuumed and polished their way through sprays, wipes, appliances and more, assessing 10,659 data points to find these winning products. When testing 150 cleaning product submissions, we used industry and in-house developed protocols to evaluate how well, for example, laundry detergents remove stains, how thoroughly washing machines launder clothing and how well multi-purpose cleaners cut grease.
We tested floor cleaners and tools on wood, tile, laminate, and vinyl floors, and assessed how much dirt and pet hair stick and robot vacuum cleaners removed from carpeting and bare floors. We evaluated germ-killing disinfectants, as well as dish soaps, bathroom cleaners, odor eliminators, outdoor cleaning products and more. Our consumer testers provided invaluable feedback about what worked and what didn’t, how easy they found the products to use, how the test products compared to their usual brands and whether they would buy them.
Quick-Drying Dish Towel
Botanical Print Microfiber Dish Towel
Don’t you hate it when you grab a kitchen towel to dry dishes or your hands only to find it soaking wet? Everplush’s microfiber towel dries quickly, so it’s always ready to use.
LAB RESULTS Soft and absorbent, this microfiber option makes a great alternative to traditional cotton dish towels. Stains wash out easily, and it dries dishes and glassware fast, no extra wiping needed.
A+ Dishwashing Detergent
Platinum Actionpacs, 62 Count
With more cleaning oomph than previous formulas, GH Seal star Cascade Platinum ActionPacs will finally make prerinsing your dishes history.
LAB RESULTS Cascade’s 50% more cleaning ingredients get to work earlier — and work longer — in the cycle to remove stuck-on residue even in your machine’s quick cycle, saving time and water.
Best-Smelling Counter Cleaner
Sea Salt Neroli Countertop Spray
Hands down, Caldrea was lauded by testers for its amazing scent. One exclaimed, “I looked around the house to find any place I could spray and wipe!”
LAB RESULTS The good news is that not only does Caldrea smell great, but its hardworking formula cleans well too.
Standout Dish Spray
Platinum Powerwash Dish Spray
A favorite since we first tested it, GH Seal star Dawn’s Dish Spray is still a top grease-cutter in Lab tests and with consumers. One at-home tester raved, “Love, love, love!”
LAB RESULTS This powerful formula attacks deposits on contact, and since it’s a spray, targeting trouble spots is easy. Spritz one item or a sinkful and put an end to messy soaking.
Smashing Disposal Cleaner
Fresh & Clean Garbage Disposal Cleaner
There’s a reason it’s called a garbage disposal, but there’s no reason it needs to stink. CLR’s foaming packs dislodge stuck-on deposits and zap odors in minutes.
LAB RESULTS In our tests, it cleaned and freshened, and the foam kept working after others we were testing quit.
Easy-Peasy Stone Sealing Wipes
Stone counters, like granite and marble ones, need regular sealing to keep spills from turning into stains. These Granite Gold wipes make it oh so simple.
LAB RESULTS GH pros were impressed by how much countertop a single pre-moistened wipe could seal and how convenient the wipes were to use. They are ideal for heavily used areas around the sink and the stove.
Eco-Kind Dish Liquid
Free and Clear Dish Liquid
A simple way to green your cleaning is with a dish liquid. This one from Seventh Generation doesn’t disappoint: It’s 95% USDA Certified Biobased and comes in a 100% recycled plastic bottle — and it works!
LAB RESULTS Tops in GH Cleaning Lab tests of plant-based dish liquids and with consumer testers, this uses enzymes to dissolve away tough stains and dried food and rinses off easily.
Stay-Fresh Scrub Sponges
Skrubby Sponges – 4 Count
If you think kitchen sponges are gross, think again. These Skura Style sponges dry in no time, eliminating the stink.
LAB RESULTS Absorbent and tough on stuck-on messes, Skura Style sponges are up to any task you dish out. They are safe to use on nonstick cookware, and when the pattern fades, it may be time for a fresh one.
Clean Day Baking Soda Cream Cleaner
Baking soda is a gentle abrasive that cleans surfaces without scratching. Mrs. Meyer’s kicks the plain DIY paste up a notch with added grease cutters and an amazing lemon verbena scent.
LAB RESULTS The kitchen sinks, counters and cookware we polished with Mrs. Meyer’s came out clean and shiny with only light scrubbing. It does require rinsing, but its light, lingering scent made our spaces smell fresh.
Mighty Mini Air Cleaner
Blue Pure 411 Auto Air Purifier
This Blueair purifier is so discreet, you’ll hardly notice it until you’re breathing easier.
LAB RESULTS Perfect for small bedrooms and spaces up to 190 square feet, Blueair fully filters the air every 12 minutes. A three-part filtration system includes a washable fabric cover in one of five colors and a carbon filter to remove light odors. It’s simple to use.
G 7916 SCi XXL AutoDos Dishwasher
GH Seal star Miele does it again with AutoDos dishwashers, which do more of the work. Pop in a PowerDisk for a month’s worth of detergent.
LAB RESULTS This time-saving innovation takes the guesswork out of doing dishes by dispensing the right amount of detergent into each load. Models with this feature start at $1900.
Turbo ExtremeSteam Steam & Iron 2-in-1 With Turbo
A steamer is a fast and easy way to remove wrinkles, but often you need more. GH Seal star Conair added an ironing soleplate for extra smoothing.
LAB RESULTS We found this steamer powerful and full of features. And we like that it can be used vertically and horizontally without dripping. Its wide plate doubles as an iron, dry or with steam. We restored a wrinkled duvet cover right on the bed.
Pet hair is a pain to pick off fabrics before washing and to clean from your machines. Speed Queen’s pet cycles have that licked.
LAB RESULTS A tester praised all the dryer’s high-end features but, as a dog owner, especially loved its ability to deep-clean pet items and its 10-minute cycle that pulls pet hair from dry items before they’re washed.
Champion Allergen Trapper
PuriCare™ 360 Single Filter Air Purifier
This purifier for large rooms (up to 310 square feet) has an innovative top that lifts and oscillates for better air distribution.
LAB RESULTS Along with smoke and particles, the LG removes odors. We liked its clearly visible display, simple controls and speedy response to irritants. Quiet and Certified Asthma and Allergy Friendly, it works with LG’s ThinQ app and Alexa and Google Home.
Most Innovative Washing Machine
Top Load Washer with 2 in 1 Removable Agitator
Deciding between a washer with a center agitator and one without? This Whirlpool is both. Keep the agitator post in for regular loads or remove it to wash bulky loads. Genius!
LAB RESULTS We’ve never seen a washer like this. Plus, in tests, the stain-treating station, bulk detergent dispensing and app features were amazing.
Multipurpose Steam Machine
Pronto Plus 300CS 2-In-1 Steam Cleaning System
Cleaning with steam has its perks — like no need to rinse — and it sanitizes. Reliable’s system switches easily from a floor mop to a handheld unit for tackling tile, the grill and more.
LAB RESULTS It was easy to steer, and its angled pad got into corners. More pros include powerful steam, wall mounting and tools for every task.
Smart Dial Front Load Washer with Opti-Wash
This Samsung washer is the next best thing to sending your laundry out. It’s so smart, it knows when your load needs help and adds more detergent or time to get it clean.
LAB RESULTS Use it a few times, and this washer learns your favorite settings and displays them. We found it — and the app — easy to operate. Quiet with lots of great cycles, it cleaned whatever we loaded in. The drum is treated to minimize germ growth, and when they’re stacked, you can set the dryer from the washer’s control panel. No more stretching!
Powerful Air Purifier
VeSync Core 400S True HEPA Smart Air Purifier
Don’t let the small size of this GH Seal star purifier fool you. Levoit filters out the usual dust, smoke, and pollen plus viruses and bacteria and refreshes the air in a 403 square foot space five times per hour.
LAB RESULTS We found the Levoit quiet and super simple to program with a clear, intuitive display. Its app and voice assistant capabilities make it even easier to use. Testers liked its responsiveness and sleek physique for discreet placement in any room.
Superbly Spotless Laundry
If you use vinegar or, worse, soak your laundry in the bathtub to remove buildup, 9 Elements is a better option.
LAB RESULTS This first-of-its-kind laundry product “softens” by removing hard-water residues in the rinse cycle, without imparting the vinegar smell or waxy feel regular softeners can. Our loads emerged fresh and soft.
Red Wine Stain Remover
If you love cabernet or merlot, keep a bottle of Wine Away close by. It’s a repeat Cleaning Award winner and a favorite of the GH Cleaning Lab.
LAB RESULTS This miracle worker effectively cleans washable clothing, upholstery and carpeting. It was tops in our last test of red wine stain removers, and its citrus extracts erase berry and coffee stains and more. One tester noted, “It’s every clumsy wine lover’s dream.”
Skin-Friendly Liquid Detergent
Hygienic Clean Heavy Duty 10X Free Liquid Laundry Detergent
Protecting sensitive skin is about more than avoiding dyes and fragrances. Detergent must remove deeply trapped soils that can be irritating. GH Seal star Tide’s Hygienic Clean Free formula does both.
LAB RESULTS In Lab tests, this Tide completely erased ketchup, grass and red wine stains from cotton. It also eliminated odors and left towels clean and without added scent.
Ace Appliance Cleaner
Washing Machine Cleaner
Odors from residues in your machine can permeate fabrics, but cleaning your washer with Affresh helps prevent this.
LAB RESULTS A tablet in the tub on a hot normal cycle cleans away grime and keeps your machine and fabrics fresh.
Novel Detergent Sheets
Laundry Detergent Squares
Consumers loved the idea of convenient dry sheets and freedom from heavy plastic jugs.
LAB RESULTS Kudos to ECOS for its forward-thinking approach to laundry. These plant-based detergent squares dissolve completely; enzymes help remove stains. We had very good results on most stains in our tests.
Super Sports Spray
Sports Stain Remover
CLR may call this a sports stain remover, but it impressively zapped virtually any stain we sent its way.
LAB RESULTS This product totally erased grass and ketchup stains in our tests, so no worries about ordering another burger at the ballpark. It can even be used to clean sports equipment and gear.
Groundbreaking Gym Wear Rinse
Antibacterial Fabric Protector
Bacteria and sweat trapped in workout wear make it stink even after washing. Hex Fabric Protector nixes germs and helps keep them away for weeks.
LAB RESULTS EPA-registered Hex treats activewear in the rinse cycle with a bacteria barrier. It’s an innovative solution to a common problem. One user said, “It kept smelly items fresher longer.”
Dynamite Detergent Discs
PROCLEAN Oxi Power Discs
If stains sneak into your loads unnoticed, an oxi-formula detergent can save the day. GH Seal star Persil’s Oxi Power Discs clean stains in one step.
LAB RESULTS For one tester, it erased set-in berry and grass stains, and we got very good Lab results on our tough stains too. Dried ketchup was history!
Genius Germ Zapper
Fabric Sanitizer Spray
Sanitizing laundry is smart, but sometimes you don’t need to de-germ a whole load. Clorox’s Fabric Sanitizer lets you target the items that need it most. Plus, it’s bleach-free and safe for colors too!
LAB RESULTS Spritz things like pet beds, face masks and underwear with this EPA-registered hydrogen peroxide spray, let it work for five minutes and then launder with your load. This zaps stains too.
Unstopables In-Wash Scent Booster
Add more freshness to every wash with GH Seal star Downy’s Unstopable Beads. Simply add as few or as many beads as you like directly into your washer’s tub for the level of scent you crave.
LAB RESULTS Downy beads work in any washer, dissolve in any water temperature, and are safe for all washable fabrics and colors. Testers loved how neat and easy they are to use and that the fresh scent lasted for weeks.
Pet Hair and Lint Guard Mega Sheets
Most dryer sheets keep clothes from sticking to each other while tumbling. But that’s it. Bounce Mega Sheets have three time the static-zapping ingredients to remove pet and lint hair in the dryer and help repel it during wear.
LAB RESULTS In our GH tests, these jumbo sheets left fabrics softer than traditional sheets and helped eliminate clingy fuzz. One tester commented, “For people with pets, it’s way more effective than other sheets I’ve used at removing pet hair.”
Laundry detergents have a hard job to do. They need to clean and whiten, remove stains and odors, be safe for fabrics and work in all water temperatures. Not all make the cut. Aspen Clean’s plant-based formula was up to the task, putting other green—and regular—competitors in our test to shame.
LAB RESULTS The biodegradable, plant-derived ingredients in Aspen Clean did a very good job removing most of our dried, set-in stains and it completely removed coffee and ketchup from cotton without pretreating. Consumer testers loved the lavender and lemongrass essential oil scent. Kudos, too, that the bottle is made from 100% recycled plastic.
Fabulous Floors & More
Dust-Sleuthing Stick Vac
V15 Detect Cordless Vacuum
Put an end to discovering lint and other stuff your regular vacuum has missed. Dyson’s new V15 Detect shines a whole new light on dust.
LAB RESULTS The bare-floor brush beamed a laser on the floor so we could spot and nab even tiny bits of debris. Three powerful suction modes, a bevy of tools and a clear display that shows battery life and particle pickup worked great and made it super-simple to use.
Brilliant Wood Floor Refresher
PowerPlus Hardwood Floor Deep Cleaner
Wood floors fare best when cleaned with products made to preserve their finish. Bona’s Deep Cleaner uses an oxygenated formula to dissolve dirt without damage.
LAB RESULTS This water-based cleaner removed soil and scuffs and dried quickly. In tests, it left floors glowing without any buffing. One tester raved, “Marvelous outcome!”
Handiest Hand Vac
Power Share Cube Compact Vacuum
Who says all hand vacs must look alike? This cube is lightweight and has a hose for extra reach and a carrying handle.
LAB RESULTS A top performer in our test of handheld vacuums, the Worx is versatile and has a removable battery that fits into other Worx tools. We think that for design, features and performance, it can’t be beat.
Easiest Two-in-One Floor Washer
FLOOR ONE S3
This floor-washing phenom from Tineco will make your mop and bucket obsolete. A tester said, “I absolutely love this machine!”
LAB RESULTS This slim, cordless, simple-to-steer appliance vacuums and washes hard floors at the same time. It works with an app, has voice prompts and senses dirt to automatically ramp up cleaning. Our pros praised it for not leaving floors too wet; it cleans itself too!
Stellar Robot Vac Mop
Robots that both dry-vacuum and wet-mop — usually with just water — are all the rage. Roborock’s S7 outshone the others we tested.
LAB RESULTS This little champ moved easily from bare floors to carpets, got under low furniture and fully covered our test areas. Setup is simple, and it has high-end features. Its mop uses sound waves to scrub and lifts to keep carpets dry. The app works like a charm.
Slimmest Stick Vacuum
Wandvac System WS620
Big vacs with lots of tools are great, but not for every home or every task. Shark’s Wandvac System is ideal for small spaces and quick cleanups.
LAB RESULTS Well designed and powerful, this skinny mini ran for over 12 minutes. It stores neatly on its charging base, converts to a hand vac, empties easily and comes in five colors.
The Maker’s Mop Bundle
Mops haven’t changed much…until now. The Maker’s Clean mop, with its taco-shaped pivoting head, telescoping pole and washable microfiber pads, puts other wet and dry mops to shame.
LAB RESULTS This mop earned praise for its ability to clean where others couldn’t — like around the toilet and into stair treads — and how neatly it could be stored. A microfiber cloth can be attached too.
Can-Do Canister Vacuum
Classic C1 Cat & Dog Powerline Canister Vacuum
When a stick or robot vac won’t cut it — as when deep-cleaning a carpet — GH Seal star Miele’s canister is the best choice.
LAB RESULTS Miele vacuums do best in our Lab tests at picking up and trapping dirt. This model uses a bag — a plus for allergy sufferers — and has a mini turbo tool to nab pet hair along with a powered nozzle, a bare-floor brush, other attachments and a filter that traps odors.
Deep-Cleaning Steam Mop
Steam & Scrub Mop S7000
Steam is an effective way to clean and sanitize sealed hard floors. But sticky, dried-on stains often require multiple passes. Shark’s new Steam & Scrub Mop has two rotating washable microfiber pads that loosen and trap dirt while you steam for faster, deeper cleaning and sanitizing.
LAB RESULTS All you need to do is guide this Shark mop as it pretty much does the cleaning for you. It’s lightweight and super simple to use and three steam levels let you tailor the steam output to the job at hand. The microfiber pads emerged from the wash looking brand new.
Awesome All-Purpose Cleaner
Multipurpose Spray (6-pack)
ART OF GREEN
Who says plant-based cleaners don’t work? Art of Green, a 60% USDA Certified Biobased Product, cleans kitchens, baths and more.
LAB RESULTS Lab and consumer testers alike praised Art of Green’s grease-cutting ability and reported that it performed better than others they’d tried. One said it best: “Wow!”
Finest Furniture Polish
Say goodbye to the smeary residue some polishes leave and the extra buffing needed to remove it. Scott’s Liquid Gold Wood Care zaps dust and shines without buildup.
LAB RESULTS We gave it props for its directions to spray the cloth, not the furniture — the advice we give. Scott’s cleaned quickly and gave wood a soft glow. Per one tester, “This stuff is the bomb!”
Good Grips Long Reach Dusting System
No spot — high up or down low — is out of reach with Oxo’s three-in-one system.
LAB RESULTS The three dusters (microfiber, cobweb and ceiling fan) trapped dust and cleaned moldings, bookcases, underneath low cabinets and other places with ease. The pole extends to eight feet long, the neck pivots to clean at virtually any angle and all three heads store on the pole.
Fastest Disinfecting Spray
Multi-Surface Disinfectant & Cleaner (4-pack)
With plant-based disinfectants, there’s often a trade-off: They can take 10 minutes to work fully. Not this one: Clean Boss kills bacteria, fungi and viruses in four minutes or less.
LAB RESULTS A great grease cutter and a speedy germ killer, it was a Lab favorite for shining even glass without streaking.
Do-It-All Cleaning Kit
This botanical assortment from Supernatural includes five glass trigger spray bottles and concentrates you mix with filtered water to clean glass and mirrors, counters, bath and tile, wood and floors and stainless steel.
LAB RESULTS The products were praiseworthy cleaners and stood out for their essential-oil scents. Once you have the bottles, all you need are the refills, saving plastic and reducing shipping weight.
Premium Bar Mop Towels – Set of 3
Synthetic microfiber cloths are great, but they can become rough and scratchy over time. Clean Mama’s towels have cotton in their blend to stay soft and hold up better to washing.
LAB RESULTS These towels were a consumer favorite for their absorbency, size and durability. One tester said, “These are my new favorite cleaning cloths!”
Enriching Leather Rejuvenator
Leather can look good until, well, it doesn’t: All of a sudden you notice the dirt. GH Seal star Furniture Clinic’s formula gently cleans away dirt and stains without damaging leather.
LAB RESULTS This mild formula cleans deep into the grain and removed stains from chairs, car seats, purses and more without drying or extra buffing.
Multi-Purpose Paper Towel Wipes
Cleaning wipes have been a lifesaver this past year. But good as they are, some tear easily, fail to trap dirt or wimp out. Clorox Paper Towel Wipes are strong, zap grime and sanitize surfaces.
LAB RESULTS We found too many uses to count for them. We cleaned counters, stovetops, faucets, trash cans, toilets and more. A tester raved, “They wiped up crumbs, dirt and spills with ease.”
Fastest Fabric Refresher
Antibacterial Fabric Spray
Killing germs on hard surfaces has become a no-brainer this past year, but non-washable soft surfaces, like sofas and throw pillows, present a different challenge. GH Seal star Tide Antibacterial Fabric Spray kills 99.9% of two types of common bacteria on fabrics and helps eliminate odors in five minutes.
LAB RESULTS This EPA-registered spray provides a fast, easy way to sanitize well-used and hard-to-wash household fabrics. Testers liked it for bedding, furniture, and even to extend clothing wear. And did we mention, it works on hard surfaces, too?
Brilliant Bath & Beyond
Sensational Soap Scum Remover
9 Elements is vinegar-based, so hard-water stains and soap scum are goners.
LAB RESULTS Vinegar cleans well, but it has its limits. So 9 Elements paired it with other plant-based ingredients to create a well-rounded and powerful bathroom spray. All seven ingredients are listed on the label. In our tests, it worked quickly: Soap scum just melted away!
Luxury Linen Spray
Sea Salt Neroli Linen and Room Spray
Mist Caldrea’s spray on clean sheets and feel as if you’re sleeping in a fancy hotel.
LAB RESULTS Give bedding, towels, even your car a whiff of the sea and notes of lemon and other essential oils with Caldrea’s Sea Salt Neroli spray. The fine mist dries quickly, and the scent subtly lingers. One user wished that it “could be put in a cologne.”
Proven Odor Eliminator
Before-You-Go Toilet Spray
Spritz Poo-Pourri into the bowl and stop embarrassing bathroom smells before they start.
LAB RESULTS This GH Seal star comes in an array of essential-oil scents. It works by trapping odors in the water so they get flushed away. The mini bottles are pretty enough to leave out.
Gentlest Stone Saver
A marble bathroom is beautiful, but when it’s time to clean it, you’ll find that most products say they shouldn’t be used on natural stone. Granite Gold’s Shower Cleaner provides a solution.
LAB RESULTS This neutral cleaner from a family of stone experts isn’t acidic, so it won’t etch marble or granite, yet it effectively cleaned and erased soap scum from tile and tubs in our tests.
Longest-Lasting Air Freshener
Fade Defy Plug
Plug-in devices have “Set it and forget it” convenience, but when the scent fades, you forget all about them. GH Seal star Febreze’s new Fade Defy Plug blows other fresheners away.
LAB RESULTS A built-in microchip regulates the flow of scent so it never wanes. Set to low, the scent stayed noticeable for 50 days in our tests, and we liked the helpful refill-alert light.
First-Place Car Wash
Hybrid Ceramic Wash & Wax
Get professional results at home with Meguiar’s Hybrid Ceramic Wash & Wax system.
LAB RESULTS With Meguiar’s hybrid approach, you mix two formulas in one bucket to remove dirt and apply a repellent coating. After drying, water beaded up and rolled right off our SUV. One tester boasted, “It looks better than after the car wash!”
Convenient Grill Scrubber
Q-Swiper BBQ Grill Cleaner
Grill brushes get grimy, not to mention the loose bristles. The Q-Swiper uses a pad, a scraper and a disposable pre-moistened wipe for a fresh clean every time.
LAB RESULTS Barbecue sauce-coated grates came clean. We like that it’s brushless for safety. Getting the gunk out from between the grates was easy.
Fabrics like carpet and upholstery trap odors from cooking and pets. Aunt Fannie’s freshens them in just 15 minutes.
LAB RESULTS This mix of baking soda and essential oils neutralizes odors and leaves a light, refreshing scent. Just sprinkle, let sit and vacuum. One tester wrote, “This was by far the best product of this type I have ever used!”
Greatest Grime Cutter
Fast 505 Degreaser & Cleaner
Removing grease from garden tools, sports gear, patio furniture, grills and other outdoor items is no walk in the park. But Zep’s Fast 505 Degreaser & Cleaner zaps sticky messes fast.
LAB RESULTS We tested Zep on grimy grill parts, workshop tools and even a grease-splattered oven door. It worked quickly with little scrubbing, and it’s safe for so many surfaces, you’ll want to keep it both indoors and outside.
Director, Home Appliances & Cleaning Products Lab
Carolyn Forte, a consumer products expert, is the director of the Home Appliances & Cleaning Products Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute.