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The Best Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products for Your Home

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Deep-cleaning my house tends to leave me with a lot of plastic bags, paper, and plastic containers to throw away. It got me wondering how I could make my cleaning routines less wasteful. Scientists are developing new ways to recycle plastic, but it’s not an Earth-friendly material, and cleaning supplies use a lot of it.

Common solutions like disinfecting sprays and soaps are largely composed of water, which makes those products heavy and hard to ship efficiently. Excessive packaging is another factor in cleaning-product waste, as are harmful chemicals that can end up in the water supply (or in you). Add in the risk of microplastic shedding and a gazillion greenwashed Instagram ads, and it can be difficult to know how to make things clean and greener.

Below are some of my favorite cleaning products that try to be environmentally conscious. They won’t feel too different from what you already use, and are relatively affordable. For the ultimate cheap minimalist homemade cleaning solution, baking soda and vinegar paired with elbow grease will do the trick for many tasks (though baking soda can harm certain materials like aluminum, so do your research). Be sure to check out our other eco-friendly guides, like the Best Reusable Products, Best Recycled Products, and Best Clothes Made of Recycled Materials.

Updated April 2024: We’ve added JAWS and LastObject (and a new look).

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Eco-Friendly Cleaners for the Whole House

Some cleaning supply manufacturers offer general-use products you’d typically buy in spray bottles. All the brands below go the extra mile with refills, simpler ingredients, or plastic-free shipping.

Our Top Pick

Supernatural’s kit is pricey, but it goes on sale a few times a year. The frosted glass spray bottles are hefty (in a good way), and the silicone bottoms keep them in place. The nozzles don’t clog or get jammed, though the bottles can leak if you don’t twist and close the lid carefully. The glass concentrate vials contain blends of essential oils for windows and mirrors, counters and granite, bath and tile, or wood and floors. The products smell amazing—like fresh botanicals, not artificial or chemical like most cleaning solutions. This set is the only one I’ve continued to purchase refills for. And I especially like that the refills are in glass, so there’s no single-use plastic involved.


Runner-Up

Blueland’s cheap refills come in the form of dissolvable tablets. You’ll get a few reusable Tritan Forever Bottles by purchasing a $46 starter kit. You can subscribe to a refill re-up plan for a bit less money. Starter kit refills include hand soap, bathroom cleaner, glass and mirror cleaner, and multipurpose cleaner. (And for what it’s worth, I wasn’t going through a bottle of glass cleaner each month. Maybe I’m gross—I don’t think most people scrub their mirrors every day—but if you’re in the same camp, you might not need a monthly subscription.) Blueland also offers laundry soap, dishwashing essentials, and various accessories. You can mix and match products to suit your needs. Everything I tried smelled great and did the job. The tablets can take a little while to dissolve, so mix the solutions up an hour or two before you tackle your chores.


Most Versatile

The starter kit gets you a 34-ounce bottle of sustainable concentrated cleaning solution, spray bottles with fill lines for easy dilution, and a tub of Oxygen Boost powder. You’ll get enough concentrate for three bottles of all-purpose cleaner, glass cleaner, bathroom cleaner, and foaming wash, respectively, plus a 64-load laundry bottle. The unscented concentrate is powerful and made from simple ingredients. You can also buy it separately and supply your own bottles. Fans of nice-smelling cleaners might find this set lacking, but a few drops of essential oils would liven things up in the olfactory department.


Best Design

Grove Collaborative Essential Cleaner Concentrates Set

Grove Co. cleaning concentrates are available in a three-pack. You’ll get all-purpose, glass, and tub-and-tile cleaners. Dump the contents into 16-ounce bottles (also on Grove’s site) and fill them with water. I especially like the glass cleaner, which works better than Windex—and smells nicer.


Easiest Refills

JAWS stands for “Just Add Water System,” and that holds up. The refills are pods you twist onto proprietary bottles. Add water, twist in a refill, and your solutions are mixed up. These cleaners smell like traditional cleaning products, and the bottles are a little … curvaceous. That means they can be a bit awkward to store. But there are a few unique cleaners that JAWS includes in this starter kit, like a granite cleaner and a general disinfectant.


For Sensitive Households

Seventh Generation All-Purpose Cleaner

This bio-based product isn’t sold in concentrates, but I’m including it here because I haven’t tried anything else like it. It has no fragrance and no color. It almost feels like you’re cleaning with water. If you’re sensitive to fragrances, to the point where “lightly scented” still gives you a headache, this is what you’re looking for.


For the Kitchen

From reusable dishcloths to eco-friendly dish soaps, there are a few options to make your kitchen cleaning routine better for the planet.

Best Overall Dish Soap

Seventh Generation Liquid Dish Soap

I tested this one a while ago, but I’ve repurchased it many times. It’s made of plant-based ingredients, and the biodegradable formula gets the job done. It doesn’t dry out my hands as much as the stuff I used to use. It’s available in multipacks online, and you can choose from various scents (including unscented).


Runner-Up Dish Soap

JuniperSeed Mercantile Laundry Stain Stick

This bar is technically meant for cleaning tough stains on your clothes before you toss them into the laundry. Dampen the end of the bar and the stain, scrub away, and then toss the garment into the laundry. However, the bar effectively doubles as dish soap. I also like No Tox Life’s ($14) dishwashing block.


Biodegradable Dishcloths

Three Bluebirds Swedish Dishcloths

These fast-drying biodegradable cloths are made of cellulose and cotton. Unlike typical washcloths, these don’t get smelly or mildewy. You can wash them up to 200 times in your washing machine or the top rack of your dishwasher. The eye-catching designs are a bonus. Mine started degrading after a couple of months of use but lasted longer than similar products I tried.


A Great Scrub

I didn’t want to love this extremely popular, cheery sponge, but it lives up to the hype. The shape and texture make it weirdly effective for scrubbing, wiping, and suds. I use it for everything from doing my dishes to cleaning my floors. It’s also more durable than other similarly priced sponges. While the sponge itself isn’t especially sustainable, Scrub Daddy products are recyclable, making them a better option than sponges you’d throw away.


Best Overall Reusable Paper Towels

These bright cotton flannel towels are durable and absorbent. They get even more absorbent after a few washes. They also cling together, so you can roll them up on a cardboard tube just like the paper alternatives. Note that the clinginess means they attract lint and dust pretty easily, so be prepared to wash them often. But still! If you’re trying to go zero-waste, these are one good way to do that.


Runner-Up Paper Towels

Cloud Paper Bamboo Paper Towels

If you prefer more traditional paper towels, these strike a good balance between familiarity and sustainability. They’re made of bamboo—no trees. The towels aren’t the softest, but they are absorbent and don’t fall apart or shed easily. For gross or quick tasks like cleaning up cat hairballs or cooking residue, I feel less guilty throwing these out than a tree-based paper towel.


Great Trash Bags

They aren’t as durable as traditional trash bags, but they’re made of 90 percent post-consumer plastic. (The other 10 percent is renewable sugarcane.) I think the eco-friendly composition makes these a worthy trade-off. The brand makes clear recycling bags as well.


Reusable Mop Pads

JuniperSeed Mercantile Sweeper Pads

These sweeper pads are a sturdier, less wasteful alternative to disposable mop pads. They work with Swiffer mops and similar systems, and they can be used wet or dry. The thick, absorbent texture makes cleaning the floor easy. Toss the pads in the washing machine to reuse them.


For the Laundry Room

Washing machines are a major culprit in microplastic pollution, but every little bit can help, right? Here are a few eco-friendly cleaning supplies for your laundry room.

Detergent Pods

These pods smell fantastic, work with high-efficiency machines, get your clothes squeaky clean, and are made of plant-derived ingredients. There are no dyes, and shipping is free and carbon-neutral. I also like the company’s wool dryer balls ($29) as an alternative to fabric softener sheets. If you don’t like pods, try MyKieri’s Easy-Spray Laundry Detergent ($28).


Laundry Sheets

We’ve recommended a few products from LastObject over the years. These laundry detergent sheets look like fabric softener sheets, except they’re soap. They dissolve in hot or cold water right inside your washer. They’re super affordable, and there’s no plastic jug involved. There aren’t any dyes or perfumes, either.


A Stain Remover

I tested this plant-based spray on blood, coffee, red sauce, and makeup. It removed them all. It doesn’t contain chlorine, dyes, or other common irritants typically found in stain removers.


A Laundry Cleaning Boost

Branch Basics Oxygen Boost Bleach-Free Detergent Booster

This baking soda booster is free of bleach, ammonia, dyes, and fragrances. It’s also septic-safe. I especially like it for linens and towels—it leaves them really fresh and banishes any lingering smells.

What Makes a Cleaning Product Sustainable?

“Eco-friendly” is an extremely vague term that can be misleading, especially in marketing. No product is perfect, but the Environmental Protection Agency has some things to look for when searching for more environmentally friendly cleaning supplies.

For product composition, the smaller the list, the better. A concentrated product produces fewer carbon emissions and creates less waste to ship than a heavier, more diluted version, and a powder or tablet is even smaller. The EPA Safer Choice program vets products and certifies them if they meet the agency’s standards for safer, more environmentally friendly products. Certified products feature the Safer Choice certification label on their packaging. Other certifications you may want to look for include those from the Rainforest Alliance, Leaping Bunny, and One Percent for the Planet. All of these certifications can help you make more sustainable choices when you’re shopping.

You can also take a look at the ingredients. For example, we look for products that are biodegradable and have less fragrance and other unnecessary additives. You can also check various brands’ sustainability initiatives. Is the shipping carbon-neutral? Is the packaging minimal and recyclable?



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