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Fabuloso vs. Pine-Sol: What’s the Difference?

Are you looking for a multi-purpose cleaner and wondering: what’s the difference between Fabuloso and Pine-Sol?

Both cleaners are highly effective on various surfaces, come in a range of scents, and are relatively cheap. But, which is better? What are the main differences?

In this comparison of Fabuloso vs. Pine-Sol, you’ll learn how they measure up in terms of product offerings, ease of use, effectiveness, ingredients, price, and more.

Plus, I answer the most frequently asked questions about Fabuloso and Pine-Sol.

By the end, you’ll know which brand will better serve your cleaning needs.


Use the links below to navigate the comparison:


Product Offerings

Pine-Sol and Fabuloso offer a range of cleaners intended for multi-surface and household use.

Pine-Sol Original is the brand’s only true disinfectant cleaner. Its other solutions, which come in scents of lemon, lavender, and “Sparkling Wave,” cut through grease, dirt, and grime, but they do not kill viruses and bacteria.

Pine-Sol Original and Lemon Fresh
Pine-Sol Original and Lemon Fresh

Fabuloso sells a range of multi-purpose cleaners as well, along with disinfectant wipes. Keep in mind, none of its scented, bottled formulas are disinfectants.

Fabuloso Multi-Surface Cleaners
Fabuloso Multi-Surface Cleaners

Fabuloso features various scents, including lavender, lemon, “citrus and fruits” (composed of apple and pomegranate scents), Spring Fresh, passionfruit, and “Ocean Paradise.”

In addition to its regular multi-surface cleaners, Fabuloso offers a line of cleaners called Fabuloso Complete. Those cleaners contain extra cleaning ingredients for a deeper clean (more on the ingredients in a minute).

If you want to buy a dedicated disinfectant cleaner, your only options between the two brands are Pine-Sol Original and Fabuloso disinfecting wipes. That said, the other multi-surface cleaners are highly effective; they just don’t disinfect on contact.

How to Use

There aren’t many differences in how you apply Pine-Sol and Fabuloso multi-surface cleaners.

Both brands recommend mixing ¼ cup of solution with 1 gallon of water.

Here’s a look at the directions on the back of the Pine-Sol bottle.

How to use Pine-Sol
Pine-Sol instructions

And here’s what it says on the back of the Fabuloso bottle.

How to use Fabuloso
Fabuloso instructions

However, the steps vary based on how deeply you want to clean, what the target surface is made of, and how frequently you intend to use the product in your home.

Pine-Sol instructions for various uses
Pine-Sol instructions for various uses

For wooden floors or other porous surfaces, both Pine-Sol and Fabuloso cleaners need to be diluted before application. To clean floors with either product, follow these steps:

  1. Mix ¼ cup of Fabuloso or Pine-Sol all-purpose cleaner with one full gallon of water (room temp or slightly warm — never hot).
  2. Test the mixture on a small, less visible part of the floor. Make sure it doesn’t cause damage.
  3. Wet a floor mop or sponge with the solution and apply it to your floors.
  4. Use regular water to rinse the floors.
  5. Let dry completely. 

You can use these products undiluted on non-porous surfaces such as tile or counters.

Pine-Sol Original is a disinfectant, but only when you use the full-strength, undiluted formula and let it stand on the surface for 10 minutes before rinsing.

If you aren’t using either brand’s products as disinfectants, use the same dilution ratio as you’d use on your floors (¼ cup for every gallon of water).

As long as the surface isn’t vulnerable to fading (as in the case of wood floors), using the undiluted product ensures a deeper clean, and longer-lasting scent.

Effectiveness

Whether you choose Pine-Sol or Fabuloso, you can trust that both brands have a longstanding reputation for quality. These brands have been on the market for decades, and there’s no shortage of expert reviews and rankings.

Let’s take a look at what experts are saying about both brands’ effectiveness.

The Spruce named Fabuloso the “best concentrate” all-purpose cleaner, praising the product’s ability to clean your home “from the top down.”

Pine-Sol Original earned the title of “best all-purpose cleaner” from the popular blog, Kitchn. The experts praised its versatility and ability to remove tough stains, such as hard water and mustard.

The New York Times’ Wirecutter was critical of the fact that Pine-Sol must be left to sit on surfaces for 10 minutes to disinfect effectively. They also mentioned that it’s not safe on aluminum, copper, or unsealed wood.

Fabuloso had mixed reviews from Consumer Reports. It successfully removed grape juice, but it scored poorly on tougher stains, such as grease and ketchup.

In their review, Consumer reports deemed Fabuloso safe to leave on surfaces, as it doesn’t carry a high risk of staining surfaces or fading.

Despite claiming to be a “green” product, Consumer Reports scores Fabuloso poorly in this category.

Consumer Reports reacted more favorably to Pine-Sol, scoring the product highly for removing grease, grape juice, and mustard. It didn’t do as well at cleaning up ketchup stains. Pine-Sol’s Original formula was deemed low-risk for staining when left on surfaces for long periods.

Ingredients

Before getting into the specifics of Fabuloso and Pine-Sol’s formulas, note that neither brand produces plant-based or non-toxic cleaners. For truly “green” cleaning products, consider Method or Seventh Generation.

Pine-Sol and Fabuloso use powerful chemical cleaning agents in their formulas. Always exercise diligence when applying them at home. Read the packaging directions carefully and review the safety information before trying either cleaner.

You can access the safety data for Pine-Sol here, and you can find Fabuloso’s safety specs here. The full ingredient lists are also available. 

Fabuloso ingredients are listed within the product pages on Fabuloso.com, and Pine-Sol ingredients are available on TheCloroxCompany.com.

The main difference between Pine-Sol and Fabuloso’s formulas is their respective pH scores. Fabuloso all-purpose cleaner has a pH of 7, meaning the solution is close to neutral. By contrast, Pine-Sol solution has a pH of 4, which means it is a fairly acidic formula.

The Pine-Sol brand earned its name thanks to its early formula, which relied heavily on pine oil.

Today, there is no pine oil in any of the company’s products.

Instead, Pine-Sol’s Original cleaner mainly relies on glycolic acid, a common and reliable industrial chemical that is low in toxicity, stable, good at breaking down calcified solutions, and biodegradable.

The other products offered by Pine-Sol rely on Sodium Carbonate, a mild but effective chemical used to break down the bonds in surface messes on a molecular level.

Fabuloso’s formulas utilize the chemical Sodium Laureth Sulfate and other Sodium Sulfate derivatives (such as Sodium C12-15 Pareth Sulfate).

Like other surfactants, Sodium Sulfates break down the bonds between molecules and “separate” messes from the surface — making them easy to wipe away.

Fabuloso Complete, the brand’s most potent line of cleaners, contains additional ingredients, including hydrogen peroxide and lactic acid, for an even deeper clean.

Unfortunately, neither Pine-Sol nor Fabuloso scores well on environmental friendliness, health safety, or ingredient transparency, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Pine-Sol mostly averaged a D score, and Fabuloso did especially poorly — it received an F rating from EWG. Always exercise caution when using these cleaners, and follow the products’ instructions as labeled.

Price

Both Pine-Sol and Fabuloso cleaners are inexpensive and easy to find.

Price varies by product, where you shop, and the quantity (the larger the bottle, the lower the cost per ounce).

The chart below shows the current prices of Pine-Sol and Fabuloso on Amazon. Click the price to learn more about each product.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

FAQs About Fabuloso and Pine-Sol

Below are answers to the most common questions about Pine-Sol and Fabuloso cleaners.

What surfaces can you use Fabuloso and Pine-Sol on?

Both products are labeled as “all-purpose, multi-surface” cleaners, so you can use them on pretty much any surface in your home, including hardwood, cement, tile, glass, plastic, and granite. However, don’t use them undiluted on any porous surface (like wood floors). And if you want to clean a particularly sensitive area of the home, consider a specialized product instead.

Where should you NOT use Fabuloso and Pine-Sol?

Experts only warn against using these cleaners undiluted on wood floors and other porous surfaces. You can use them on these surfaces; just dilute them before application. Although Pine-Sol claims you can use it as a carpet cleaner, I recommend using both brands on hard surfaces only.

Do Fabuloso and Pine-Sol contain bleach?

No, neither contains bleach. Never combine these products with bleach. Mixing chemicals can result in hazardous results.

Do Fabuloso and Pine-Sol contain ammonia?

No, neither cleaner contains ammonia.

Are Fabuloso and Pine-Sol bad for your health?

Since both cleaners use a range of harsh chemicals, either option can be dangerous if you don’t use them properly and follow the instructions. But both cleaners have been reviewed and undergone the regulatory process, so if you follow labeled instructions and exercise caution, they shouldn’t pose any risk to you or your family’s health.

Do Fabuloso and Pine-Sol kill bacteria and viruses?

Only Pine-Sol Original cleaner and Fabuloso disinfectant wipes kill bacteria and viruses. All other products offered by these brands are not disinfectants and will not kill germs.

What is the shelf life of Fabuloso and Pine-Sol cleaners?

As with most all-purpose cleaners, both Fabuloso and Pine-Sol have an approximate two-year shelf life and include expiration dates on their packaging. They may be less effective if used after the expiration.

Are Fabuloso and Pine-Sol safe to use around pets?

Yes, but keep these products out of pets’ reach. They are safe to use in proximity to pets, but these cleaners are toxic if ingested. 

Who owns Fabuloso and Pine-Sol?

Fabuloso is owned by Colgate-Palmolive, and Pine-Sol is owned by The Clorox Company.

Bottom Line: Should You Buy Fabuloso or Pine-Sol?

The differences between Fabuloso and Pine-Sol cleaners are minor, and there are only a few substantial variations in the formulas and their effectiveness.

Pine-Sol is more acidic than Fabuloso, which gives it an advantage in breaking down stubborn stains and complex messes caused by grease.

Pine-Sol Original is the only liquid cleaning solution that disinfects. None of Fabuloso’s liquid cleaners kill viruses and bacteria; however, the company offers disinfecting wipes that do.

Whichever brand you choose, you’re going to get a reliable and versatile cleaning product for everyday use.

Bottom line — if you need a disinfectant, go with Pine-Sol Original. Otherwise, either brand will do just fine for your daily cleaning needs. 

You can find Pine-Sol and Fabuloso at most grocery and home improvement stores or on Amazon at the links below:

Andrew Palermo Founder of Prudent Reviews

Andrew Palermo - About the Author

Andrew is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Prudent Reviews. He’s been studying consumer buying behavior for 10+ years and has managed marketing campaigns for over a dozen Fortune 500 brands. When he’s not testing the latest home products, he’s spending time with his family, cooking, and doing house projects. Connect with Andrew on LinkedIn or via email.

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