Motherhood, Marriage and Other Wild Rides

Health, Happiness and the Pursuit of Mommyhood

Product Reviews: Natural Household Cleansers April 27, 2008

A simple change in cleaning product is a painless way to help the environment while safe-guarding your family’s health; Across the board, prices compare to leading brands. Best of all, your home will be clean and smell wonderful.

Here is a short-list of popular natural cleaning brands, including company info and consumer reviews. If your favorite is missing, please comment with your suggestions. If you would like to share your experiences (positive or negative) with a brand mentioned here, please leave a comment (including specific product type—window cleaner, all-purpose spray, detergent, etc.) and I will be happy to include it.

This company boasts a wide range of hard-working products, each with a spa-inspired scent, including cucumber, lavender, grapefruit, green tea, magnolia and almond. Co-founded by Adam Lowry, a chemical engineer from Stanford and environmental scientist, Method products are biodegradable, made from recyclable packaging and are not tested on animals. The cleaners are made with naturally derived surfactants (the active cleaning agents in a product) and work by absorbing dirt rather than chemically degrading it.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) named Methodcofounders, Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry as their 2006 “Persons of the Year”. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has indoctrinated Method into its Green Power Leadership Club, which recognizes organizations that have made exemplary green energy purchases. Inc. Magazine has added Method to the 25th annual Inc. 500 ranking of the fastest-growing private companies in the country.
Even the packaging looks good. Karim Rashid, an artist with over 70 objects in permanent collections in museums around the world, designed the containers for Method’s lost-cost, highly-effective household cleaners.

  • Gillian Cantor (mother of a toddler and pregnant with her second,) has never found a Method product she didn’t like. “I especially recommend the almond-scented wood polisher and the cucumber-scented all-purpose cleaner. And you can’t beat the price!”
  • Becky Wheelock (mother of three) disagrees; “I used Method, but I didn’t like the smell. It was overpowering and chemically–go figure!”

Ecos Earth Friendly Products

Founded in 1993, Ecos’ Earth Friendly Products offers 60 household products, an industrial/bulk Pro-Line, and a Natural Pet Care line. Earth Friendly Products promises a “power-packed clean” without toxins, petrochemicals, bleach, ammonia, phosphates or other harmful ingredients. The products are plant-based, have pH in the neutral range, are biodegradable and septic safe.
If you demand a clean home, Ecos products may be just the ticket. While not all alternative cleansers are created equal, Earth Friendly Products truly deliver. This family-owned business was awarded the distinguished American Culinary Award, The Gold Performance Medal by Quality Institute International (QII) for its distinctive citrus-based cleaners and the 2002 Readers’ Choice Award given by Natural Home Magazine for the best natural household cleaning products. Ecos also received the 2003 Socially Responsible Business Award for its efforts to manufacture only in the U.S., source ingredients locally, control product quality, contain product costs and provide jobs locally.

  • Canuck “Simplesprouts” uses Ecos’ liquid laundry detergent and “I really love it.” She found it at Costco in Canada. “It was about the same price as Tide.”
Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds  
An Escondido, Calif. company in business over 50 years, Dr. Emanuel Bronner created his liquid and bar soaps organically with essential oils. A third-generation master soap-maker from Heilbron, Germany, Bronner was heir to the family’s soap factory and business, but rebelled and came to the U.S. in the late 1920s.
Initially a consultant to various soap companies, when many chose to convert to synthetic surfactant formulations, he struck out on his own in the late 40s. His simple, natural and 100% environment-friendly castile soaps reflected his ecological consciousness, resonating with the counter-culture of the 1960s and 70s, and he became an icon of the time.
The company’s only household cleanser—Sal Suds—is one extremely multi-purpose product. Sal Suds is a balanced formulation, certified organic, never tested on animals, biodegrades rapidly and is packaged with 100% post-consumer recycled material. It is probably the most cost-effective choice available, as it is highly concentrated and works on virtually every surface in every room of the house, including dishes, floors, laundry and even heavy-duty grease-cutting jobs. One product, many uses; the convenience and cost-effectiveness alone make it worth a try.
Made from plant-based surfactants with natural spruce and fir-needle oils, Sal Suds is a powerful cleaning solution, yet is mild and gentle on the skin and is equally effective in hard or soft water, rinsing freely, hot or cold. Sal Suds is not soap-based and is formulated especially for all-purpose hard-surface cleaning.
Among the company’s several social initiatives, Dr. Bronner has donated over 1,200 acres of land to the San Diego County Boys and Girls Club.
  • Becky Wheelock gets her youngest involved in the housework; “August always helps me scrub the shower and generally clean the bathroom. I switched to Dr. Bronner’s because it’s a multifunction cleaner that smells great and is truly all natural, so it’s great for big jobs, including the wood floors. Since the kids play on the floor, no Pine Sol for us!”

Seventh Generation
Seventh Generation offers a large and diverse range of household products, including Free and Clear allergen-free products and baby, pet and paper products. Against animal testing, Seventh Generation designed its line of cleansers based on a commitment to both the environment and the necessity to protect ourselves from cancer-causing toxins. Seventh Generation’s vegetable-based cleaners are made from a renewable resources and therefore save petroleum, do not contain fluorescent chemicals or phosphates which don’t readily biodegrade and are often toxic to aquatic life. They are also are chlorine-free. Chlorine bleach creates dangerous toxins such as dioxin, furans and other organochlorines. Countless studies show a direct link between dioxin exposure and cancer, birth defects and developmental and reproductive disorders.
While I applaud this company’s initiatives, I have yet to find a specific product in their line that works as well as others mentioned here. I especially caution you against the dishwasher detergent if you want to avoid spotty dishes.

  • Megan Lopez also uses the liquid dish detergent, and agreed that the dishwasher detergent did not clean as thoroughly as hoped. “My 12-year-old daughter Jordana has allergies and eczema, so we depend on Seventh Generation’s Free & Clear line, especially the laundry detergent and all-purpose cleaner.”

Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day
Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day aroma-therapeutic household cleansers offer a breath of fresh air. Or rather, a breath of your choice of lavender, lemon verbena or geranium. The scents are so appealing, I actually feel pretty while I’m cleaning, an unexpected reaction to a cleanser. The geranium scent is very rose-y to my nose, and it evokes images of vacationing in some lovely cottage in the south of France while I’m wiping down the bathroom sink—not too shabby “aroma-therapy.”
Attractive packaging and luscious scents highlight these hard-working, biodegradable cleaning supplies free of solvents, phosphates, ammonia, chlorine and artificial colors. In addition, most Clean Day products have a near neutral pH, making them safe for skin contact. Made with essential oils, Mrs. Meyer never tests on animals.
Yes, there really is a Mrs. Meyer. The company is run by Thelma Meyer’s daughter, one of nine children. After 40 years of keeping house, she believes her mom knows a thing or two about cleaning.
(Please note that even natural, essential oils may cause an allergic reaction to people who are sensitive to these substances. However, Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day products contain no peanut ingredients, are not exposed to peanuts in the manufacturing process and are also gluten-free and do not contain any wheat, or wheat-derived ingredients.)

Ecover offers household and laundry products including dish and dishwasher detergent, multi-surface and toilet cleaners, and a full range of laundry products. Over and over, I hear that is impossible to find a dishwasher detergent that is comparable to, say, Cascade. Well, Ecover is the answer to that conundrum. Both the powder and tablets are unsurpassed. The box holding the product is made of 95% recycled cardboard and the little plastic wrappers are made from Polypropylene and are 100% recyclable.
This international company was founded in 1980 in Belgium. Acting in the spirit of the externally audited ISO 14001standard, Ecover has extended its environmental policy to all departments of the company, from production to marketing, resulting in the world’s first ecological factory, which has a green roof extending over more than 6000m². Perhaps the most prestigious recognition was being named to the Global 500 Roll of Honour of the United Nations Environment Program.

If your favorite that is missing, please comment with your suggestions. If you would like to share your experiences (positive or negative) with a brand mentioned here, please leave a comment (including specific product type—window cleaner, all-purpose spray, detergent, etc.) and I will be happy to include it.


4 Responses to “Product Reviews: Natural Household Cleansers”

  1. […] the whole thing over here This entry was posted on Sunday, April 27th, 2008 at 3:44 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. […]

  2. […] Let the author know what you think, contact them and continue reading, here […]

  3. simplesprouts Says:

    I’m not sure about Method…….I remember having a quick glance at one of their bottles (all purpose cleaner?) and it had SLS in it. I use the Ecos liquid laundry detergent and really love that (bought it at Costco in Canada and it was about the same price as Tide). My next venture is to find Dr.Bronner’s Sal Suds — not easy to come by here in Vancouver.

  4. […] Use environmentally-friendly cleaning products and cloths or micro fiber rags to clean up after the party. […]

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