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In this shopper’s guide we will cover:
- ingredients and effectiveness of traditional vs. organic cleaners
- how to shop for organic household cleaners
- price points for organic cleaning products
- best organic cleaning products for all-purpose cleaning, kitchen, bathroom, furniture, floors and carpets, windows, and laundry
- DIY natural home cleaner recipes
For years, we’ve believed that chemical-based cleaning products are essential for fighting grime in our homes and helping maintain good health. Those ads with CGI germs crawling over kitchen countertops are pretty darn convincing.
However, as the understanding of the contents of these products grows, we’re noticing the impact of using these toxin-laden items — and it ain’t a pretty picture.
European researchers revealed regular use of cleaning sprays in the home has a similar impact on our lungs as smoking a pack of cigarettes each day.
Further studies show commonly used ingredients, such as benzalkonium chloride, chloramine gas, and toluene can have harmful effects on the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract. Yeesh.
It’s not only humans that are impacted. When remnants of cleaning products such as dish soap and bleach make their way into the water system, they can be toxic to both plants and animals.
Research discovered that the compounds released by household sprays are just as much of an air pollutant as car exhaust fumes.
As such, it comes as no surprise that more and more of us are turning to organic, eco-friendly options to keep our homes sparkling. In fact, the global market for natural cleaning products is set to reach a value of nearly $8 billion within the next 5 years.
Do these earth-friendly alternatives actually work? Generally, the answer is a big green yes.
Although studies suggest traditional cleaning products are more powerful, organic options are still effective in removing dirt and tackling germs. Ingredients such as vinegar, basil oil, coconut oil, and lemon all possess antibacterial or antifungal properties.
If you’re feeling swayed, read on to discover the best organic product picks for different areas of your home (we’ve also included their cons because we’re honest like that), shopping tips, and even some DIY recipes you can easily make. Grab your cleaning cloth and let’s get down to business.
- Only buy what you need. If an all-purpose cleaner will tackle both the kitchen and bathroom, don’t spend money unnecessarily on separate products.
- Don’t stretch your budget. We’re all for enthusiasm, but you don’t need to rush out and buy replacement products all at once. There’s no point in having a clean kitchen if you can’t pay the rent to cook in it.
- Look for deals.Buying products on multi-buy promotions is a great way to save a few extra dollars. Many online retailers also offer discount codes for newsletter sign-ups.
- Learn the lingo. Not all green is made equal.
- “Organic” means something is created from living matter or has been produced using no artificial chemicals.
- “Nontoxic” doesn’t necessarily equate to safe. It’s not an FDA-regulated term, and simply means it’s not expected to be dangerous.
- “Natural” refers to something not created by humans — aka it’s a mineral-based ingredient.
- Some products describe themselves as “eco-friendly,” but this covers a wide spectrum. It could refer to anything from naturally derived ingredients, recycled packaging, or a CO2-neutral production process. Check the packaging for more info.
- Know your brands. Unsure where to start? Try some of the established names in the organic cleaners market: Method, ECOS, Attitude, and Seventh Generation are just a few to choose from.
We factored in a range of criteria — from user reviews and affordability to ingredients, size, and benefits — to create the best selection possible. Our price guide gives you an immediate indication of how budget-friendly each product is, too.
- $ = under $10
- $$ = $10–$20
- $$$ = over $20
Method All-Purpose Cleaning Wipes
If your eco-conscience has long prevented you from using wet wipes, these biodegradable ones will be a welcome addition to your cleaning regimen. They effectively help remove grease and dirt from an array of surfaces, although they don’t disinfect.
Common Good All Purpose Cleaner
Everything in this formulation is readily biodegradable, including tea tree oil, which is known for its antibacterial and antifungal properties that make it an ideal household cleaner. It’s only good for use on nonporous surfaces, so keep away from any unvarnished wood.
J.R. Watkins All Purpose Cleaner
When something is relied on for 150 years, you know there’s a good reason. Users rave about the scent and each application only requires a couple of spritzes. Take note: There are no disinfectant properties to help kill germs.
Lemon Aide All Surface Cleaner
This formula’s ability to easily tackle marks without leaving any residue —while filling the air with a delightful citrus scent — has earned it a legion of loyal fans. As an added bonus, the essential citrus oils contained in the ingredients act as a natural disinfectant. The product is made in Canada and takes a bit longer to ship, so factor that into your cleaning schedule.
Love Home & Planet Multipurpose Cleaner Spray
With no parabens or dyes, this spray is pH neutral and tested by dermatologists — great for those whose skin flares up at the slightest touch. It comes in five scents (we love Citrus Yuzu & Vanilla) and can be used on all surfaces except wood, aluminum, and brass.
Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap
A product to clean your shower, dishes and… face? This soap has gained worldwide cult status due to its multitasking abilities. A little goes a long way, and it comes in an array of scents fans rave about. Vegan, Fairtrade, and organic, it ticks all the earth-friendly boxes.
Ecover Zero Dishwasher Powder
The powder formulation means you can control how much you put in according to the load — so there’s no unnecessary waste. Users love that it doesn’t leave a residue, and the neutral scent means you won’t get an overpowering whiff when you bring a clean glass near your nose.
Sapadilla Countertop Cleanser
Whether you have a sticky worktop or greasy range, this efficiently gets rid of any grimy marks — making it a perfect kitchen ally. However, it’s not a disinfectant, so you’ll need a different cleaner for wiping up after raw meat and it can’t be used on unvarnished wood.
Better Life Stainless Steel Polish
Cooktops, range hoods, and ovens are the worst when it comes to kitchen cleaning, but this packs a punch to make light work of steel surfaces. Some users have mentioned it leaves streaks, but others recommend if you buff rather than wipe you should get shining results.
Caldrea Dish Soap
Many dishwashing liquids can cause eczema flare-ups, but the moisturizing aloe vera content of this soap means your hands will only be itching to clean. The natural soap bark extract helps banish grease and only a couple of squirts are needed for a whole sink of dishes.
Ecover Toilet Cleaner
Nobody enjoys cleaning the toilet, and this formula effectively removes grime and limescale for quick scrubbing. Biodegradable ingredients mean there’ll be nothing left hanging about in your bowl and the plastic packaging is fully recyclable.
Method Antibacterial Bathroom Cleaner
Arguably one of the best overall natural bathroom cleaners thanks to its antibacterial properties — killing up to 99.9 percent of germs while leaving a minty fresh smell. It will easily get rid of soap scum, although it’s not suitable for use on natural porous surfaces like marble.
Green Works Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Just like the Ecover option, there’s no disinfectant in this natural formula. However, it will still provide a good clean to banish any signs of limescale, mold, and general grime. Plus, its lactic acid content means it’s effective on marks and rings caused by hard water.
AspenClean Bathroom Cleaner
This cleaner’s key ingredients of lime and lavender essential oils have both antifungal and disinfecting properties — ideal bathroom pals. Packaged in 100-percent recycled plastic, just a few spritzes help easily remove scum and dirt from surfaces.
Nellie’s Laundry Soda
Although one of the pricier buys on our list, a standard tin offers 100 washes — and many users state they easily get more. It’s effective at cleaning even the smelliest of gym socks and makes clothes feel wonderfully soft (so you can save on a separate softener).
Attitude Fabric Softener
Dermatologist tested and approved by the National Eczema Association, this is eco- and skin-friendly. It doesn’t have an overpowering scent and certainly does the job in the softness stakes too. Even better? Its entire production is CO2 neutral.
Grove Collaborative Care and Renew Liquid Laundry Detergent
Despite the smaller packaging, you get a decent amount of washes. This blend of natural ingredients gently cleans and clothes will not only look fresh but also sustain less wear and tear in the spin — so you can enjoy them for even longer.
Ecover Stain Remover
For a picnic-induced grass stain that just. won’t. budge, this has got your back. Natural enzymes work to erode tricky marks, although really tough ones (such as turmeric) might need a couple of tries. The recycled packaging also has a nifty built-in brush for easy application.
Seventh Generation Glass Cleaner
With a hypoallergenic formula, this is great for those with sensitive skin or allergies. Users love the fact it doesn’t leave behind a residue and it’s equally effective at cleaning mirrors as it is glass.
Bean & Lily Glass Cleaner
Multiple users report streak-free windows with this cleaner, so there won’t be any annoying residue ruining your view of the outside world. Meanwhile, its alcohol-free and pH-neutral formula is friendly for adults, kids, and pets alike.
Grove Collaborative Glass Cleaning Concentrate
While it takes *slightly* more effort to dilute a small amount of this yourself, doing so minimizes plastic waste and the carbon emissions associated with transporting water. Glass is left streak-free after cleaning and this cleaner is effective at removing grime from outside windows, too.
Method Hard Floor Cleaner
With a clever nozzle at the top of the bottle, you can spray this cleaner directly onto your floor before giving it a quick mop. The biodegradable ingredients mean there’s no residue build-up and it’s great for use on all hard floors, except those with a wax coating.
eco-max Floor Cleaner
It’s well-priced and one bottle goes a long way — with the liquid in concentrated form so you can vary the amount and avoid waste. While sensitive on skin and containing no harsh chemicals, users state this cleaner is still strong enough to banish stains soaked into tiles.
Biokleen Carpet and Rug Shampoo
Look no further for a great organic carpet cleaner: The bottle is huge (and you only need a small amount each time), there are no dubious smells, and it can be used on wool. It cleans both general grime and stains and leaves carpet super-soft for that freshly laid underfoot feel.
Better Life Stain and Odor Eliminator
Soap bark acts as nature’s cleaner in this spray, while a number of essential oils offer a fresh scent. Perfect for revitalizing a dirty dog bed or musty sweater as you run out the door, you can buy a refill pack when it’s used up to help reduce plastic waste.
Puracy Natural Carpet Shampoo and Upholstery Cleaner
Made of clinical-grade natural enzymes, this spray’s ingredients have been reviewed by doctors — meaning they’re as safe as they are effective. Its concentrated formula helps avoid waste and it won’t leave behind a foamy residue.
ECOS Furniture Polish and Cleaner
Using olive and citrus oils to bust dirt and encourage shine, this easily rubs on to give wooden items a natural lift without worries of residue or streaks. It also won’t offend your nose with an overpowering scent and, with no toxins, it’s friendly for those with allergies.
There are plenty of great natural cleaning products available to buy, but sometimes creating your own provides a bit more assurance around its provenance.
Long before companies released chemical-laden solutions, homeowners across the globe relied on store cupboard staples to help keep their surfaces and belongings looking shiny and new.
To get in on the action yourself, all you’ll need is a glass or plastic spray bottle to spritz from (and labels so you can mark them up) — so head to the kitchen and start mixing.
For the bathroom:
- 1.5 cups water
- 1.5 cups white vinegar
- 3 tbsp. baking powder
- 5–8 drops essential oil of choice (vary according to strength preference)
Mix the water, vinegar, and baking powder, stirring well. Add the oil and stir again, then spritz away.
For the kitchen:
- 2 cups warm water
- 2 cups white vinegar
- Juice of 1 lemon
Pour all ingredients into a spray bottle, seal the nozzle tightly, and shake to combine.
For laundry stains:
- ½ cup baking powder
- ¼ cup water
Mix the ingredients to form a paste. Apply a small amount to the stain and let it dry, then dab off gently with warm water.
Studies have shown that traditional cleaning products are more powerful, but organic and natural options are still effective in removing dirt and tackling germs.
Despite the stereotypes and misconceptions, cleaning products don’t need to cost the Earth in more ways than one. With so many different brands on the market, making ethical choices is easy. Not only will your decisions impact your environmental footprint, but your own well-being too.
If making a switch to natural cleaning products for all areas of your home is a big jump for your wallet right now (we’ve shown they’re often well-priced, but can still be a tad more expensive), then make a start by going organic in just one room.
With all of us taking baby steps, it won’t take long to see giant leaps in protecting the future of our planet.