A while back I wrote about the wonders of The Pink Stuff, “the miracle cleaning paste” by the British company Stardrops that took TikTok by storm last year. It turned out that The Pink Stuff was not overhyped; it managed to revive ruddy grout and banish stubborn grime with ease. It even charmed my coworker Joey, who stole most of my jar.
Believe the hype.
There was one catch: This best-seller Pink Stuff was not the easiest thing to get ahold of. At the time that it was trending on TikTok, it regularly sold out on Amazon and suffered price gouging from third party retailers. (While the price on Amazon is lower now, some customer reviews have complained about receiving deceptive imposter products in unmarked jars.) As remarkable as The Pink Stuff is, the thought of paying upward of $20 to ship a household cleaner from the United Kingdom isn’t terribly practical or sustainable—especially if you plan to use it routinely. So I began my search for a Pink Stuff dupe, which is how I learned about A-Ben-A-Qui cleaning paste.
A-Ben-A-Qui cleaning paste is not new at all. The New Hampshire-based company has been making the stuff since the 1950s, marketing it as an all-purpose environmentally safe cleaning solution. It’s pretty similar to The Pink Stuff: both contain a mixture of organic abrasives, baking soda, and soap. The website makes the same “do everything” promises that The Pink Stuff’s advertising does. But to properly qualify it as a dupe, I knew I had to test them side-by-side, so that’s exactly what I did. Here’s how A-Ben-A-Qui stacks up to The Pink Stuff.
The grimy sheet pan test
For the first round, I took my grimiest crustiest sheet pan and scrubbed one half with The Pink Stuff and the other with A-Ben-A-Qui. The most noticeable difference between the two cleaners is texture.
The Pink Stuff has a goopy consistency that makes it easy to plop on a surface and wipe around with a damp cloth, whereas A-Ben-A-Qui is thicker and less sticky; it reminds me of cold buttercream frosting, and can require a little more elbow grease to spread evenly across a surface. It’s slightly less emollient, meaning it might slide around as one clump if you don’t mush it with your rag first. A-Ben-A-Qui contains three abrasive ingredients (feldspar, quartz, and salt) in comparison to The Pink Stuff’s one (quartz). In spite of that, the A-Ben-A-Qui has a much finer grit to it.
DUPE TEST: PASS
The nasty grout test
I loved using The Pink Stuff to whiten stained grout lines in my kitchen, so I was eager to see if A-Ben-A-Qui was up to the task. The Pink Stuff’s whitening capabilities likely come from the combination of alkaline sodas (washing soda, sodium bicarbonate, and sodium silicate) and soap. The sodas raise the pH and soften water, improving the soap’s ability to clean. It’s the same reason people add baking soda to their laundry to make it brighter. Both pastes contain baking soda and washing soda, with a combination of soap and glycerine, meaning that, in theory, they would perform pretty similarly. Low and behold, they did! Just like The Pink Stuff, A-Ben-A-Qui worked like magic on my stained grout lines after a little scrubbing with a toothbrush.
DUPE TEST: PASS
The stainless steel sink test
For my final direct side-by-side test I wanted to see how well the pastes did at shining the kitchen sink. The Pink Stuff does this well, likely due to sodium silicate, an ingredient useful for removing hard water stains. A-Ben-A-Qui does not contain sodium silicate, so I expected that this test might be the one where performance began to differ. Again, I cleaned one half on my sink with The Pink Stuff and the other with A-Ben-A-Qui, and after a good wipe down...the A-Ben-A-Qui buffed the sink bright, just like The Pink Stuff.
DUPE TEST: PASS
Still, there are some differences
In terms of its performance, the A-Ben-A-Qui paste is definitely a satisfactory Pink Stuff dupe. The differences ultimately come down to some ingredient-based preferences. The Pink Stuff contains perfume and acid red 52 for scent and color, as well as two texture additives. Those who are wary about scent and dyes should consider A-Ben-A-Qui. That said, one of the soaps in A-Ben-A-Qui is sodium tallowate, which is typically derived from animal fat, which may disappoint some consumers, while The Pink Stuff is vegan.
Ultimately, I would gladly use either The Pink Stuff and A-Ben-A-Qui cleaning products to fight the constant war against grease in my kitchen—on my stovetop, countertops, oven, and beyond. Natural cleaning pastes and cream cleaners are great alternatives to bleach and other general purpose cleaners and cleaning sprays that produce potentially harmful fumes and irritants. And cleaning pastes are a little more heavy duty than sprays in general. Since A-Ben-A-Qui is easier to source here in the U.S., I’ll stick to it unless I see The Pink Stuff go on sale.
Originally Appeared on Epicurious