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What Makes a Cleaning Product "Green" Anyway?
The answer is tough to nail down, because there’s a ton of “green-washing” (which Investopedia defines as: conveying a false impression that a company or its products are more environmentally sound than they really are) that goes on in your local super market shelves. Generally speaking, though, cleaning products we can call “green” are ones that have less of an environmental and health impact than traditional manufactured cleaning brands. This can mean using natural ingredients like vinegar or essential oils, being biodegradable, using recyclable packaging, sourcing organically, or many other qualifiers. Rule of thumb: Do your best to investigate a brand’s preaching and practices to ensure they align with your household’s values. Below are some green brands we’ve tested and loved.
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Method would be the bomb simply because their products are made with extensively-researched ingredients, and they’re completely transparent about what’s in everything they make. But what’s more is they’re not your Grandma’s natural cleaners: They’re beautifully packaged and the scents are often elevated enough to be your favorite perfume. Their collection spans multi-purpose cleaners, hand soaps, body wash, dish soap, laundry packs, and much more.
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Aunt Fannie’s started with the OG of all cleaning products: vinegar. The founder, Mat, wanted to ensure that the cleaning products he used around his son were 100% worry-free, so he created the brand. Plus, there’s a reason vinegar has been used forever–it seriously works. It wipes completely clean, leaves no streaks on glass and mirrors, and it’s totally safe for any food-contact surfaces.
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The concept of Branch Basics is so simple it’s pretty crazy no one had thought of it before. You start with an all-purpose cleaning concentrate (that’s plant and mineral based, biodegradable, non-GMO, and non-toxic of course) and add it to water in a spray bottle to use on everything… like, everything. You can purchase separate bottles for all-purpose (appliances, countertops, floors), bathroom (tile, grout, shower walls, toilet), streak-free surfaces (mirrors, windows, computer screens), foaming wash (dishes, hands, face, hair), and laundry.
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While Grove Collaborative’s site is host to countless natural and green brands (with subscription options for your favorite products you can’t always find in stores) their own home care brands can hang with the big guys. Their several non-toxic concentrates (glass cleaner, all-purpose cleaner, tub and tile cleaner, and floor cleaner) are scented with essential oils and clean pretty much every surface in your home. Mix them with water in their coordinating glass bottles (reusable, duh!) and you’ve got a fully non-toxic cleaning arsenal on deck.
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Home Made Simple
Plant-based cleaning products that are Oprah-approved? Yes, please. Home Made Simple’s (yep, the same name as the TV show on OWN with host Laila Ali) line of products contain no phosphates or dyes, are scented with essential oils, and are packaged in 100% recyclable bottles. Foaming hand soap, laundry detergent, multi-purpose cleaners, dish soap, and more come in scents like rosemary or lavender.
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Seventh Generation is a brand that walks the talk. Their products are USDA certified bio-based, use post-consumer recycled plastic for their packaging (with instructions on each bottle about how to recycle it), and their foundation makes grants to non-profit organizations that promote and improve environmental conservation, the sustainable use of natural resources, and human health and social welfare. Oh, and their products work really well too. From laundry, dishwashing, and general cleaning to feminine care and trash bags, they’ve got a product for every need. Plus, they formulate fragrance-free and hypoallergenic options for those with sensitive skin or allergies.
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If you already turn to Thrive Market for your fave organic snacks and non-toxic beauty, throw some of their cleaning supplies on your next order, too. Their dish detergent packs, dish soap, multi-purpose cleaner, and glass cleaner are biodegradable and made from plant and mineral based ingredients, plus they really work.
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Better Life has a pretty simple mission, which can really be understood in their name itself. Their products aim to give people a greener, safer, alternative to traditional cleaning formulas. They leave out perfumes, dyes, alcohol, ammonia, bleach, parabens, etc. and only use plant-derived cleaning agents (from coconut, corn, soap bark) and natural scents from botanical extracts. All-purpose cleaner, wipes, floor cleaner, glass cleaner, dish soap, and more, have all the dirty bases covered.