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Cleaning Products Are Put to the Test

January 17, 2002|Jeannine Stein

As Brian Sansoni of the Soap and Detergent Assn. said, the success of these pleasant-smelling, nicely packaged upper-end products, like any cleaning products, must lie in their performance. With that in mind, my husband and I went to work, road-testing several of the offerings. Prices are approximate, and remember that reactions to fragrances are subjective. Here's what we found:

* Caldrea Laundry Powder in white clover ($25 for 48 ounces). I tried this out on my gym clothes, which, after a workout, smell so bad that the government should consider using them for chemical warfare. Caldrea cleaned well and left my clothes with a light, powdery fragrance, but for the price, I don't love it enough to switch from Tide Free.

* Good Home Co. Laundry Fragrance in lavender ($18.50 for 34 ounces). I also tested this one on my gym clothes and found a very strong lavender fragrance when I removed them from the washer, even though I used only the recommended one-third cup. The smell faded to a pleasant hint of lavender after the clothes went through the dryer. Even though each wash load takes only a small amount, this product is definitely a splurge.

* Caldrea Linen Spray in white clover ($10 for 16 ounces). My husband tried this on a silk neck scarf he wore while smoking a cigar, and it killed the smoke smell and left a nice fragrance that wasn't too flowery. I sprayed it on my clothes while ironing and liked the smell, but it was strong enough that I kept getting whiffs of it all day. Would definitely clash with any perfume.

* Mrs. Meyer's Dish Soap in lavender ($6 for 16 ounces). High marks for this product. The scent was pleasing, and it quickly cleaned off caked-on food and grease. A little goes a long way.

* Mrs. Meyer's Window Spray in lavender ($6 for 20 ounces): It cleaned well and didn't streak, unlike some grocery store brands. Nice fragrance. Ditto for Caldrea Window Spray ($8 for 16 ounces).

* Caldrea All-Purpose Cleaner in green tea patchouli ($12 for 33.8 ounces). When diluted as directed, it worked wonders, cleaning everything from a laminated wood tabletop and kitchen tiles to a trash can and the bathroom. Little scrubbing required. I'm not a big fan of patchouli, but blended with the green tea, the overall impression was fresh and herbal.

* Caldrea and Mrs. Meyer's Furniture Cream ($10 for 8 ounces for Caldrea in green tea patchouli; $9.60 for 8 ounces for Mrs. Meyer's in lavender): Both are good for a quick-fix, although we found we used a lot since much was absorbed into the cloth. Both fragrances were nice and mild.

* Good Home Co. Dish and Hand Soap in pure grass ($10 for 17 ounces). Neither of us was crazy about the smell, and the soap suds were difficult to rinse off the dishes.

Final answer: Now that our house smells like an exclusive spa resort, I'm not sure I can go back to Windex and Lysol. And, yes, I'm thinking I may do more cleaning. Just don't tell my husband.

On the Web:

* Caldrea: www.caldrea.com.

* Mrs. Meyer's: www.mrsmeyers. com.

* Good Home Co.: www.good homeco.com.

* Williams-Sonoma: www.wil liams-sonoma.com.

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