Buying generic can save you money and many of the products are comparable if not better quality than name brand.
While name-brand cleaning supplies like Clorox and Windex might seem superior, their generic or store-brand counterparts often perform just as well if not better, for a fraction of the price. In this article, I’ll reveal the secret behind generic cleaning supplies and list 6 products you can switch to for significant savings.
What is the difference between generic and name-brand cleaning supplies?
Mainly, the price. Name-brand cleaning products cost up to three times as much as generic brands.
Why are name-brand cleaning supplies more expensive than generic?
In the competitive world of cleaning products, companies spend huge sums of money on marketing and advertising. Clorox spends between $500 million and $700 million on advertising each year. They have to pass that cost on to someone, namely the consumer. Then there is the packaging. Some companies use more expensive materials. What it does not come down to is the quality of ingredients in these cleaning supplies as we’ll get into in the next section.
Are generic cleaning supplies as good as name brand?
The short answer is yes, many generic cleaning supplies work just as well, if not better, than their name brand counterparts. The reason is the ingredients. The same ingredients are usually in the store or generic brand as in the name brand. Unless the company has a proprietary formula, all cleaning supplies basically use just a few standard ingredients as we’ll see below.
6 generic cleaning supplies to switch to in your home
The main chemical ingredient in bleach is sodium hypochlorite. This is what makes bleach bleach. There may be a few other ingredients added like hydrogen peroxide, but the sodium hypochlorite is what does the heavy lifting. It disintegrates the bonds of stains and organic matter through a process called oxidization. This is why it is good at cleaning and killing bacteria and viruses.
All bleach, even generic, has sodium hypochlorite in it. This is why you go buy generic bleach instead of name brand. Now, there are some specially formulated bleach such as no spill and color safe, but for all intents and purposes, bleach is the same across the board. And buying generic will save you a lot of money. Take for example two bleaches at Walmart (click the images to be taken to the product pages):
Let’s compare the Great Value Bleach vs Clorox. Ok, so it’s not completely apples to apples. I could not find the regular Great Value bleach so used the Lemon Scented one. It’s more like Granny Smith apples to Golden Delicious. But as you can see, the generic Walmart brand is almost $2 cheaper. And if you are wondering, they both have 7.5% sodium hypochlorite in them. NOTE: Never mix bleach with any other household cleaner.
2. Glass Cleaner
Again, this all comes down to ingredients. Most glass cleaners contain some variation of a formula containing ammonia, and glycol ethers. Let’s compare the main “cleaning agents” in Windex vs. the generic Great Value Glass Cleaner
- Ammonium hydroxide
- Isopropanolamine (glycol ether)
- 2-Hexoxyethanol (glycol ether)
Great Value Glass Cleaner
- Ammonium hydroxide
- Propylene glycol (glycol ether)
- Ethylene glycol (glycol ether)
Without going into a chemistry class, at face value, these two products have the same elements that serve the same purposes in the products. Yet their prices are vastly different:
As you can see, the Windex costs almost twice as much as the store brand Great Value. PRO TIP: Use microfiber cloths with your glass cleaner for a streak-free shine.
I go through a lot of sponges in my work. I use a new one for every house to eliminate cross-contamination. So I am always looking for cheap, good-quality sponges. And I have to say, the Dollar Store is where it’s at! I can get 6 Scrub Buddies Scrub Sponges for $1.25. And they are good quality. Scotch Brite sponges are over $3 for a 3-pack.
PRO TIP: Put your sponges in the dishwasher to clean and sanitize them for longer use.
4. Magic Erasers
All Mr. Clean’s Magic Erasers are is a material called melamine foam cut into squares. There are no chemical cleaners in them, at least not the Original or Extra Durable kinds. Magic Erasers have started putting cleaning agents in their Bathroom and Kitchen versions, but that is not what the simple sponges need to clean like magic. The magic part comes from the material’s abrasive nature. At a microscopic level, the sponge is a latticework of strands that act as a super-fine sandpaper that scrapes away dirt and scuffs incredibly well.
You can buy melamine sponges on Amazon in bulk for cheap. A 50-pack will cost you $17.99. That’s $0.36 a sponge! Compare that to at least at least $1.00 a sponge for Mr. Clean’s version, that is quite a savings! PRO TIP: Use magic erasers to remove soap scum on shower doors. Also see these things magic erasers are excellent at cleaning.
5. All-Purpose Cleaner with Bleach
As we’ve established before, bleach is bleach is bleach. So what would the difference be between brand name and generic cleaners with bleach? Well it turns out the difference is the quantity of bleach in each product. And as it further turns out, Walmart’s Great Value All Purpose Cleaner with Bleach as more than Clorox’s All Purpose Cleaner with Bleach.
So it looks like we get a much better deal with the Great Value brand at $2.24 than the Clorox brand at $4.48. PRO TIP: White vinegar is also a disinfectant. See this article for all purpose cleaner recipes with white vinegar.
6. Swiffer Dusters
I love Swiffer dusters for their convenience and extension poles to dust high places. But I don’t like the cost. The duster pad refills are very expensive and most people throw them away after each use. PRO TIP: These can be washed and reused. Just rinse under the faucet with a little soap and let dry. They’re not going to come out looking perfect but they will still work the same.
The Dollar Tree has a generic version of these for $1.25 (3 pack) compared to $16.67 for the same thing at Walmart (6 pack). So you could buy over 10 of these packs at the Dollar Tree for one of the packs at Walmart.
Buying generic doesn’t mean you have to skimp on quality, quite the opposite. I means you can get a comparable product at a much lower cost. Find more money-saving tips here.