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Product Review – Utamaro All Purpose Cleaner

The Utamaro line of household cleaning products is one of the most popular in Japan, and in this product review, I will be looking at Utamaro All Purpose Cleaner, used in homes all over the country. Why is Utamaro Cleaner popular, and how and where should it used?

I personally became acquainted with the Utamaro brand through their laundry soap, which is excellent and works well on oil stains. Japanese people still do a lot of hand laundry for stains that are considered too difficult for a laundry washer, and Utamaro Laundry Soap is widely used and liked.

 After using the laundry soap, I decided to give the all purpose cleaner a try as well. My experience with the cleaner has been quite good, it really is “all purpose”, useful for so many different things around the house.

To summarize my own personal experience, I would say that Utamaro Cleaner is:

- Good at its primary job, cleaning and removing dirt

- Gentle on the skin

- Environmentally friendly compared to other cleaners

For someone like me with sensitive skin and hands, Utamaro is a natural choice. I personally have not had any skin irritation when I reach for the spray container with my bare hands and use it for sudden food, table, and other spills and stains. Nevertheless, it is better to wear gloves when cleaning, because no matter what the cleaner, there is always a chance of irritation, and long-term wear-and-tear on your hands from cleaners and dish soap.

Not chlorine-based

Because Utamaro Cleaner is not chlorine-based, it saves you the trouble of having to open all the windows while cleaning. I usually used a face mask for other cleaners because of the strong chemical odors, but with Utamaro I could forego the mask, and was pleasantly surprised by a refreshing herb scent, instead of a cloying perfume or chemical flower cover scent that I often ran into with other cleaning products. If you have a family, you will not have to hesitate to use it while they are around, because it smells fine and there is no need to ventilate.


In addition to not being chlorine-based, Utamaro Cleaner is biodegradable. This is good for the environment around us, and is also indicative of the relatively gentle nature of this product.

Strikes the right balance between cleaning strength and naturalness

Utamaro foregoes heavy chemicals like chlorine, but keep in mind that it still does contain surfactants. In my experience, completely “all natural” cleaners unfortunately don’t do a very good job at cleaning. Utamaro, even setting aside its relative gentleness, is an excellent cleaner that lets you clean a wide variety of surfaces with one product, and do so quickly and easily. Other products like baking soda are also excellent, but for a more limited variety of stains, and require more effort to use.

Cleaners that use a heavier chemical load may also clean well, but they are much more irritating to the skin, have an unpleasantly strong chemical odor, and seem like they are generally bad for the environment.

As an example of the balance that Utamaro strikes, it uses surfactants, but in less quantity than other cleaners, and according to the product information, the surfactants it uses are amino-acid based, which is a common method in Japan for avoiding skin irritation (also commonly seen in Japan with amino-acid derived shampoos for people with skin atopy).

This balance between extremes goes back to what I think is a general cultural trait in Japan that is a little different than what you see in the West. These days many Westerners (especially in the upper-middle classes) have a preference for completely all-natural products. Japanese on the other hand tend to be ok with chemicals, as long as they are used correctly and in low concentrations.

You see this a little with medicine as well. Japanese over-the-counter medicines almost always have lower doses of their active ingredients than their Western over-the-counter equivalents. To the point where most Japanese overseas are afraid to take Western medicines because they believe them to be too strong. On the other hand, homeopathy and alternative medicines (other than a remaining but much reduced influence of traditional Chinese medicine) are much less popular in Japan than in the West. We like the products of the modern age, but we want to use them carefully and in a way that minimizes any risk.

Utamaro Cleaner is like that. It uses chemicals, and should not be mistaken for an all natural cleaner. But it uses chemicals carefully, specially formulated, and in relatively low concentrations. And I think the result works well: a gentle cleaner that is easy on your skin and on the environment, while still being able to easily and quickly take care of stains.

What stains can Utamaro Cleaner be used for?

Oil stains around the stove

Water stains on sinks and faucets

Hand marks


Ventilation fan stains

Mirror stains

Window glass stains

Wettable walls, floors, furniture, etc.

What should Utamaro Cleaner not be used for?

Furniture, floors, walls, etc. that cannot be wetted


Lacquer and other coated products

Silver products


Liquid crystal/plasma displays

Leather goods               

Basic Usage

- Spray onto the stain you want to remove

- for surfaces, spray 5 times for each 1 m² area

- for glass, spray 3 times for each 1 m² area

- for stubborn stains, leave in place for 5 minutes or more

- wipe off cleaner, and then wipe again with water

Note 1: Do not spray directly at high places. If you want to clean somewhere near or above eye level, spray a sponge or cloth and then use that sponge or cloth to clean. Otherwise the spray may get into your eyes.

Note 2: Utamaro Cleaner is effective for both acidic and alkaline stains, while baking soda is best for acidic stains, and white vinegar for alkaline stains (hence all purpose cleaner).

Overall, this is an excellent cleaner that balances effectiveness with gentleness, and I can definitely recommend it to anyone looking for that combination. If you are interested in purchasing Utamaro Cleaner and live outside of Japan, please take a look at our product page at Allegro Japan. Free international shipping is included in the list price, and we ship all over the world. We also sell more than a thousand other practical, unique, and hard-to-find items from all over Japan, with free international shipping included on every single order. Thank you for reading!

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