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

Mr. Clean and Pine-Sol are two of the biggest names in cleaning supplies.

Both brands have been in business for decades with a proven track record of high performance and excellent value.

But what’s the difference between these brands?

In this comparison of Mr. Clean vs. Pine-Sol, you’ll learn how they stack up in terms of product offerings, ingredients, effectiveness, scents, and much more.

I focus on their multi-surface cleaners since those are their most popular products.

So if you’re stocking up on cleaning supplies and can’t decide between Mr. Clean and Pine-Sol, keep reading.


Use the links below to navigate the comparison:


Product Offerings

One of the major differences between Mr. Clean and Pine-Sol is that Pine-Sol focuses on multi-surface cleaners, while Mr. Clean has several other products.

Pine-Sol has five multi-surface cleaners, a floor cleaner, and wood furniture cleaner/polish.

Pine-Sol Original kills 99.9% of germs and is the only one of their products that’s considered a disinfectant.

Pine-Sol Original
Pine-Sol Original

The other Pine-Sol multi-surface cleaners deodorize, remove grease and dirt, and leave behind a fresh pine scent but don’t kill germs on contact.

Pine-Sol products work on a range of surfaces, including finished hardwood, ceramic tile, glass, granite, linoleum, and much more.

The Tropical Flowers scented multi-surface cleaner removes 99% of allergens when you use it for mopping.

Besides multi-surface cleaners, the Pine-Sol Original Squirt ‘n Mop solution is designed specifically for floors (no bucket needed). It’s safe on multiple surfaces, including wood, tile, and linoleum.

The company also offers furniture polish sprays to clean, condition, and protect wood furniture.

Mr. Clean offers more than just multi-surface cleaners. Its product lineup includes multi-surface liquids, multi-surface sprays, Magic Erasers, and a suite of cleaning supplies called Mr. Clean Butler, including sponges and mops microfiber cloths, toilet cleaners, and more.

The multi-surface liquids can be diluted in a bucket and applied with a sponge or mop to clean almost any hard surface. Some of these liquids are infused with the power of Febreze to eliminate odors.

They’re also available in a range of scents. The Summer Citrus multi-surface cleaner, for instance, is an antibacterial liquid that can kill 99.9% of bacteria.

Mr. Clean Summer Citrus Antibacterial Cleaner
Mr. Clean Summer Citrus Antibacterial Cleaner

The other scents include Freshness Linen and Sky, Moonlight Breeze, Tropical Sunrise, Meadows and Rain, Original Fresh — but keep in mind these aren’t antibacterial.

Mr. Clean also offers multi-surface sprays in three scents: lavender mist, original, and lemon zest. They’re effective cleaners but not disinfectants.

The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is a DuraFoam sponge in multiple varieties, including lavender-scented, Dawn-infused, original, and more. These erasers can tackle all kinds of dirt, whether you’re cleaning walls, bathroom appliances, oven doors, light switches, laundry stains, and much more.

Magic Eraser Sheets function similarly but are in a sheet format, so they’re better for hard to reach places like nooks, crannies, corners, and more. They’re thin and flexible, making them great for stovetop knobs, handles, and more.

Finally, the Mr. Clean Butler range includes cleaning tools, such as cloths, dusters and brushes, gloves, sponges, and magic eraser mops and refills. So if you want your whole cleaning collection by Mr. Clean — there are plenty of products available.

How to Use

Both brands are straightforward to use, but there are some subtle differences.

Here’s how to use the multi-surface cleaner liquids.

Let’s start with Pine-Sol.

For general cleaning:

  1. Dilute ¼ cup in a gallon of water.
  2. Dip your cloth or mop into the water.
  3. Wipe down the surfaces.
  4. Only rinse when cleaning rubber or asphalt tiles.
  5. For heavy-duty cleaning, don’t dilute the mixture. Just apply it to a cloth or mop before rinsing immediately.

For disinfecting:

  1. Remove excess dirt from the surface first.
  2. Apply the liquid to a clean sponge or cloth without diluting.
  3. Wet the surface and let the product rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Rinse well.
  5. For toilet bowls, pour ½ cup of Pine-Sol into the bowl and brush well. Flush the toilet.

For laundry:

  1. Rub the product onto grease spots or heavy stains.
  2. Wash as normal.
  3. For general laundry, add ½ cup of the load along with your regular detergent. Only use it on white or colorfast fabric.

With Mr. Clean’s multi-surface cleaners, follow these instructions.

For disinfecting:

  1. Remove excess dirt.
  2. Apply the product, undiluted, to the area.
  3. Let it rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Wipe with a damp cloth.

For floors or general cleaning:

  1. Mix ¼ cup of the product with one gallon of water.
  2. Apply to the area.
  3. Do not rinse; just let it dry.

For heavy-duty cleaning:

  1. Pour the product directly onto the area or a sponge.
  2. Wipe the area.
  3. Rinse with lukewarm water.
  4. Let it dry.

Effectiveness

Pine-Sol and Mr. Clean products are incredibly effective. Reliable cleaning power is what has kept these brands in business for decades.

In terms of cleaning power, the difference is not between the brands but between their scented multi-surface and disinfecting cleaners.

The scented options are highly effective at cutting through dirt, grime, and grease, while the disinfecting products also kill bacteria and germs on contact.

Both brands receive accolades for their cleaning ability. Here are a few examples so you can see what other experts are saying.

In Good Housekeeping’s article, “8 Best All-Purpose Cleaners to Fight Grime, According to Cleaning Experts,” Mr. Clean multi-surface cleaner came in second place as the best cleaner for big jobs. It was praised for being tough on grime, fast-acting, and easy to use. Pine-Sol was not mentioned in this roundup.

In the “8 Best All-Purpose Cleaners of 2021” article by The Spruce, Mr. Clean was awarded the best tough cleaner. The all-purpose cleaner was praised for its ability to act quickly with no need for scrubbing, even with big messes. Pine-Sol, again, was not mentioned in this roundup.

In The Kitchn’s post, “The Best All-Purpose Cleaner for Your Home,” both brands ranked. Mr. Clean antibacterial cleaner came in second. It was praised for being the best multi-surface cleaner for big jobs. Pine-Sol Original came in third place and was praised for its ability to remove grease, soap scum, and food stains.

In Consumer Report’s review of the top All-Purpose Cleaners, Pine-Sol ranked number three for its ability to remove grease, grape juice, and mustard. Mr. Clean was not mentioned in this roundup.

As you can see from the accolades, both perform well, but Mr. Clean gets a few more mentions.

Ingredients

Pine-Sol and Mr. Clean products are not plant-based or non-toxic like some other brands we’ve reviewed, such as Seventh Generation, Method, and Mrs. Meyer’s.

Both use powerful chemicals to deep-clean, so use these products with caution.

Pine-Sol was originally pine oil-based when it was created in 1929. But as of 2016, these products no longer contain pine oil as an active ingredient due to its expense.

Although Pine-Sol Original still smells like pine due to the added synthetic fragrances, Glycolic acid is now the active ingredient.

The active ingredient in Mr. Clean Home Pro Antibacterial Cleaner is sodium hydroxide, which can be corrosive and more dangerous than glycolic acid. It’s an odorless white crystalline solid that absorbs moisture from the air. It can cause eye, skin, mucous membrane irritation, allergic reaction, skin and eye burns, and temporary hair loss when misused.

Let’s take a closer look at the ingredients inside each brands’ formulas, starting with Pine-Sol Original:

  • Water
  • PEG/PPG Propylheptyl Ether: These cleaning agents cut through grease.
  • C10-12 Alcohol Ethoxylates: These cleaning agents also cut through grease.
  • Glycolic Acid: This is the active ingredient. It is an organic acid that’s used as an antibacterial agent. It can remove discoloration, soap scum, and hard water deposits.
  • Sodium Secondary C13-18 Alkyl Sulfonate: These are surfactants that are often used in liquid detergents.
  • Xanthan Gum: A natural thickener.
  • Caramel: This is added as a dye.
  • Sodium Sulfate: An inorganic salt used as a filler to help with ionic strength.
  • Methoxyacetic Acid: This is described as a non-functional component.
  • Formic Acid: Also a non-functional component.
  • Fragrance: This gives the product a pleasant smell. The ingredients include hexyl cinnamal, d-limonene, Acetophenone, and Myrcene.

Now let’s dive into Mr. Clean Home Pro Antibacterial Cleaner ingredients:

  • Water
  • C9-11 Pareth: A cleaning agent that breaks up and removes stains.
  • Sodium Carbonate: This is a builder that breaks down greasy stains and helps the other cleaning agents remove them from the surface.
  • Sodium Hydroxide: The active antimicrobial ingredient which kills bacteria.
  • Citric Acid: This controls the pH of the product.
  • Pentasodium Pentetate: A chelant that acts as a water softener.
  • Benzisothiazolinone: A preservative.
  • Green 8: Used as a colorant.
  • Acid Yellow 3: Another colorant.
  • Fragrance: Fragrances are added to give the product a pleasant scent. You can find the full list of fragrance ingredients here.

Next up is Pine-Sol multi-surface (not the disinfecting product):

  • Water
  • PEG/PPG Propylheptyl Ether: Surfactant or cleaning agent that can cut through grease.
  • C10-12 Alcohol Ethoxylates: This is also a surfactant to cut through grease.
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate: This surfactant removes soil and foams up. It’s very common in household cleaners and detergents.
  • Sodium Carbonate: This is the key ingredient. Also known as washing soda, it is an alkalinity builder that improves cleaning efficiency. It can remove alcohol and grease stains, soften water, and remove hard water stains.
  • Hydroxyethylcellulose: A plant-derived thickener.
  • Solvent Green 7: This dye changes the aesthetics of the product. It’s not specified whether it is synthetic or natural.
  • Polyoxyalkylene Substituted Chromophore (Yellow): Another dye. It is also not specified whether it is synthetic or natural.
  • Fragrance: The fragrances vary depending on the product. For the Lemon Fresh cleaner, the fragrance is made of d-limonene, citral, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Hexyl Cinnamal, Citronellol, and Geraniol.

We’ll also look at Mr. Clean Multi-Surface ingredients (not the disinfectant product).

  • Water
  • C10-16 Alkyldimethylamine Oxide: A cleaning agent that breaks up and removes stains, specifically greasy ones.
  • C9-11 Pareth: This is a cleaning agent that breaks up and removes stains on floors.
  • Carboxymethyl Inulin: A water softener.
  • Sodium C10-16 Alkyl Benzene Sulfonate: A cleaning agent that breaks up and removes stains, specifically particulate soil.
  • Sodium Carbonate: This is the key ingredient, which is the same as in Pine-Sol. In Mr. Clean, it acts as a pH adjuster and breaks down greasy stains. It also helps the other cleaning agents lift stains from surfaces.
  • Sodium Citrate: This does the same job as sodium carbonate in this product.
  • Benzisothiazolinone: A preservative.
  • Perfume: This gives the product a pleasant fragrance. The specific ingredients in this perfume are listed here.
  • Polyoxyalkylene Substituted Chromophore (Yellow): This gives it a yellow color to match the scent.
  • Acid Red 52: This is also a dye that colors the product to better match the scent.

If you’re wondering how safe these products are, do a quick search on EWG.org to check out each product’s safety grade. Some ingredients are safer than others.

For example, Pine-Sol multi-surface cleaners range from a “C” to a “D” depending on the product. Mr. Clean multi-surface cleaners range from a “D” to an “F.”

To learn more, check out Pine-Sol’s safety data sheet here. Read all about Mr. Clean’s ingredients and health and safety information here.

Price

Pine-Sol and Mr. Clean products are both very inexpensive, especially compared to brands focusing on plant-based ingredients.

When comparing prices of cleaning solutions, always look at the cost per fluid ounce.

Below is a comparison chart so you can view the current prices of each brands’ most popular cleaners.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

FAQs about Mr. Clean and Pine-Sol

Below are some of the commonly asked questions about Mr. Clean and Pine-Sol.

What surfaces can you use Mr. Clean and Pine-Sol on?

You can use Mr. Clean on all washable surfaces. Pine-Sol can be used on almost all surfaces, including stovetops, laminate, bathroom sinks, carpets, concrete and more. For the full list, click here.

Where should you NOT use Mr. Clean and Pine-Sol?

Don’t use Mr. Clean on carpet, copper, or aluminum surfaces.

Don’t use Pine-Sol on unfinished, unsealed, or unwaxed wooden floors or cars. You also shouldn’t use it on aluminum, copper, or marble surfaces, dishes, or as a pet shampoo.

Do Mr. Clean and Pine-Sol contain bleach?

No. Neither of the brands’ formulas contains bleach.

Can you mix Pine-Sol and Mr. Clean with Bleach?

No. Never mix any cleaning products with bleach. Doing so can result in hazardous gases. Learn more about the dangers of mixing cleaners like Mr. Clean and Pine-Sol with bleach in this safety guide.

Do Mr. Clean and Pine-Sol contain ammonia?

No. Neither of the brands’ formulas contains ammonia.

Are Mr. Clean and Pine-Sol bad for your health?

Both brands’ formulas contain harsh chemicals to remove tough grease and grime. EWG.org rates them between “C” and “F” for toxicity. However, If you use the products according to the instructions in well-ventilated rooms, the health risks are minimal.

Do Mr. Clean and Pine-Sol kill bacteria and viruses?

Pine-Sol Original and Mr. Clean Antibacterial Cleaner can kill up to 99.9% of bacteria and viruses. The other products are not disinfectants.

What is the shelf life of Mr. Clean and Pine-Sol Cleaners?

Mr. Clean cleaners last up to two years. Pine-Sol multi-surface cleaners’ shelf life is two years, but the Squirt ‘N Mop product only lasts one year.

Are Mr. Clean and Pine-Sol Safe to use around pets?

Many people recommend being careful with Mr. Clean products due to the harsher chemicals. However, the Febreze Odor Defense cleaner from Mr. Clean is proven safe around pets.

Pine-Sol also claims that their products are safe to use around pets.

Can I recycle the Mr. Clean and Pine-Sol bottles?

Yes. Rinse out the bottles and recycle them according to the manufacturer and local guidelines.

Can you mix Mr. Clean and Pine-Sol with other products?

No. Never mix any cleaning products because doing so creates a dangerous chemical reaction that can produce hazardous gases.

Who owns Mr. Clean and Pine-Sol?

Mr. Clean is owned by Procter & Gamble, a consumer goods corporation. Pine-Sol is owned by the Clorox Company, a global manufacturer of consumer and professional cleaning products.

Bottom Line: Should You Buy Mr. Clean or Pine-Sol?

Mr. Clean and Pine-Sol are highly effective and powerful cleaners that come in a range of scents.

Both brands offer two versions of their multi-surface cleaners: ones that cut through grime and grease but don’t kill germs on contact, and antibacterial cleaners that kill 99.9% of germs and bacteria.

The differences between the two brands are the offerings, scents, and ingredients.

Mr. Clean offers a wider variety of cleaning products, including sprays, Magic Erasers, Magic Eraser Sheets, mops, sponges, cloths, and more. Pine-Sol only offers multi-surface cleaners, a floor cleaner, and wood furniture polish.

Mr. Clean multi-surface cleaners come in seven scents, while Pine-Sol comes in five. The original Pine-Sol scent is quite polarizing — some people love it, and others hate it.

The other big difference is the ingredients in the disinfecting cleaners. Pine-Sol’s key active ingredient is glycolic acid, which is less toxic than Mr. Clean’s active ingredient, sodium hydroxide. However, use both cautiously and according to the instructions.

If you need a strong disinfect and don’t mind the smell, I recommend Pine-Sol since the ingredients aren’t as harsh.

If you’re looking for an all-purpose cleaner to cut through dirt and grime but don’t need a disinfectant, either brand’s multi-surface cleaners will get the job done. Both multi-surface cleaners use sodium carbonate as the main ingredient, so there’s no difference in toxicity or effectiveness.

Bottom line — both brands have a strong reputation and offer fair prices. But if you’re looking for more natural, plant-based products, consider other brands such as Method, Seventh Generation, and Mrs. Meyer’s.

Pine-Sol and Mr. Clean are available at your local grocery and hardware 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 over a decade 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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