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We should all know by now that including a picture of some herbs and the words “natural” or “plant-based” is not enough to make a cleaner truly kind to the environment. But even if your all-purpose counter spray really is made with only USDA organic tree bark and locally sourced goji berries, eco-friendly cleaning products are about more than just ingredients.
If you really want to green-up your spring cleaning routine, think about things like reusable wipes, packaging and buying in bulk in addition to the formula’s ingredients, to find products that deliver actual performance, rather than just performative words.
How to Find the Best Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products
In a perfect world, we’d all be living zero-waste, like a vegan YouTuber or Alicia Silverstone. But until that day, we can still do the dishes using sustainable detergent, and swap paper towels for washable dishrags. The EPA has several recommendations for sustainable cleaning products, and you can search the organization’s database for certified Safer Choice brands and products here.
Formula: Look for formulas that are biodegradable, pH balanced, and free from potentially harmful chemicals, including likely carcinogens or highly irritating or corrosive substances. They should also be free of artificial fragrance and have a low volatile organic compound (VOC) level, which can negatively impact air quality.
Packaging: Sustainable packaging is also an essential component of sustainability in household products. Concentrated formulas are not pre-diluted with water, which cuts down on bulk and makes shipping more efficient. We also recommend buying in bulk whenever possible, to minimize the amount of packaging waste you’re generating. Packaging made of recycled materials are also a big plus.
Reusable Tools: Swap items like paper towels and single-use spray bottles with reusable versions.
If you’re looking for cleaners free of harsh chemicals, the best cleaners for allergies, or just a more sustainable way to clean your home, here are our top picks.
1. Force of Nature Cleaner
Looking to boost your spring cleaning regimen? Force of Nature is a cleaning gadget that actually uses electricity to convert tap water and a recyclable capsule into a powerful all-purpose cleaner and disinfectant.
Each “Activator” capsule contains just salt, water, and vinegar, but has just as much germ-killing power as bleach, but without any potentially harmful chemicals, fragrances, or irritants. Unlike some other “all-natural” cleansers on the market, Force of Nature kills 99.9% of germs and is on EPA’s List N, the disinfectants approved for use against SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19, which is a big bonus.
The Starter Kit comes with 5 Activator capsules, enough to make 5 bottles of cleaner, the Electrolyzer appliance, power cord, and a 12 oz reusable spray bottle. Safe enough to use around your home, and for use on virtually any surface, this cleaner is a powerful contender against any mainstream all-purpose option.
2. Blueland The Clean Suite
Blueland completely innovates the way you’ll think about traditional cleaning supplies. Their non-toxic home cleaning products come in dissolvable refill tablets, so all you need to do is pop them into one of Blueland’s spray bottles and add water (though you can also use your own refillable spray bottles, if you want to go the extra mile in terms of sustainability.)
We love that you can use your own reusable bottles if you want, but Blueland’s Clean Suite set has everything to get you prepped for a full deep clean: it includes multi-surface, glass and mirror, and bathroom cleaners, powdered dish soap, 40 dishwasher tablets and 40 laundry tablets. The kit also comes with three durable and sleek spray bottles, a foaming soap dispenser, a silicone shaker (for the dish soap) and steel tin containers.
Need to restock? You can easily set up a subscription, which will save you 10 percent on supplies all year-round.
3. Cleancult All Purpose Cleaner Bundle
From natural ingredients to paper-based packaging to performance, Cleancult redefines the word “clean”. You can gently clean any countertop or surface with the natural, non-toxic power of their all-purpose cleaner, which is “powered by coconuts” (what that means: the cleanser is coconut-oil based, as opposed to a harsher chemical.)
Each refill is packaged in recyclable milk cartons and sealed fresh with their innovative plant-based cap. Their All-Purpose Cleaner assortment includes a free glass spray bottle and a total of four 32 oz cleaner refill cartons.
This cartons come in a variety of fragrances like Sweet Honeysuckle, Blue Sage, Orange Zest, and Bamboo Lily, but they’re fairly subtle and come from all-natural essential oils. Cleancult also makes a variety of dish soaps, hand soaps, and dishwasher tabs, if you can’t get enough fo the cleaning power of coconuts.
4. Biokleen Natural All-Purpose Cleaner
Devoted fans of the Biokleen brand use this all-purpose cleaner for literally all purposes, including everything from scrubbing the floors to washing dishes to laundry. It’s super concentrated to reduce waste, and is free from any potentially harmful chemicals or substances, including artificial fragrances, so it’s safe for use around babies and pets.
5. Seventh Generation Hard Surface Cleaner
Seventh Generation is a popular, trusted brand for good reason. While this all-purpose cleaner is not concentrated, it is VOC-free, biodegradable, doesn’t release any harmful fumes, and is USDA-certified. It’s a safe cleaner for basically any hard surface, with no risk of danger to kids or pets. And, importantly, users also attest to the effectiveness of the “tough on grease” formula.
6. Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder
The Charlie’s Soap laundry powder is EPA Safer Choice-certified, so you can trust its concentrated, sustainable formula. The non-toxic, hypoallergenic, and fragrance-free ingredients effectively clean clothes without leaving behind residue or scents that might be irritating to sensitive skin. In other words: it’s gentle on clothes and skin.
7. ECOS Non-Toxic Hypoallergenic Dishmate Dish Soap
ESOS is another popular brand that we really like. This concentrated dishwashing solution is hypoallergenic and free from dyes and perfumes, and is produced in zero-waste facilities that are carbon and water-neutral, and powered by renewable energy. Dish soap can be harsh on hands, which is why this non-toxic formula is such a favorite with those with sensitive skin.