Clean Genies

Testing lean, mean purifiers in a bottle

By Alexandra Zissu

Photo by Anthony Verde, Styling by Camilla Slattery

Finding one all-purpose cleaner that performs well on walls, floors, tiles, and more saves both cash and energy, thanks to reduced packaging and shipping weight. But how to tell which cleaners are truly green? Many manufacturers don’t fully divulge their formulas, which are protected as trade secrets. Plenty tested several multitaskers that are free of caustic ammonia and chlorine bleach; reproductive toxins like glycol ether solvents; and synthetic fragrances, which can harbor hormone-disrupting phthalates. The cleaners all had something to offer, but only some had stellar range.
Ecover All Purpose Cleaner
PERFORMANCE Powerful. Particularly good on non-wood floors.
SCENT Lemony. Neither strong nor long-lasting.
PACKAGING Readily recyclable #2 HDPE
ALSO NOTEWORTHY Plant-based surfactants, soap and ethanol, and natural fragrance., $5.75 for 32 oz

Seventh Generation Natural All Purpose Cleaner
PERFORMANCE Does the trick, but not to be used on wood.
SCENT Comes fragrance-free or in Green Mandarin and Leaf (from plant essential oils).
ALSO NOTEWORTHY Discloses all ingredients on the bottle and on a material safety data sheet on the company’s website., $5.39 for 32 oz

Method All Purpose Cleaner
PERFORMANCE Those raving Method fans are onto something—one spritz, we found, cuts through substantial grime.
SCENT If you’re fragrance-sensitive, choose the Go Naked—most Method scents are pungent.  
PACKAGING 100% recycled #1 PET
ALSO NOTEWORTHY Method doesn’t currently list any ingredients on its bottles (it says this will change), but the Method website identifies some synthetics in the formula. Fragrances are said to be natural and man-made, but without phthalates., $4 for 28 oz

Clorox Green Works Natural All-Purpose Cleaner
PERFORMANCE Works as well as non-eco counterparts in all areas of the house.
SCENT Citrusy but not overpoweringly so.
PACKAGING Readily recyclable #1 PET
ALSO NOTEWORTHY Pretty pure stuff from the maker of chlorine bleach. Endorsed by the Sierra Club. Syn­thetics, Clorox says, make up less than one percent of their formula., $5.49 for 32 oz

Mrs Meyer’s Clean Day All Purpose Cleaner
PERFORMANCE So effective the professional cleaners at Brooklyn’s GoGreen! prefer it to industrial products for post-construction work. Best on non-porous surfaces, such as walls.
SCENT Very strong. Combines essential oils and synthetic ingredients.
PACKAGING One 32 ounce plastic bottle (both #1 PET and #2 HDPE) is said to make 16 gallons of cleaning fluid when diluted.
ALSO NOTEWORTHY Uses some “safe” synthetics., $7.99 for 32 oz

Biokleen Spray & Wipe All Purpose Cleaner
PERFORMANCE Works great, even on countertop grease and dry gunk on a high chair. Leaves no residue.
SCENT Mildly citrusy.
PACKAGING Concentrated; available in HDPE #2., about $5 for 32 oz

Vermont Soap Organics Liquid Sunshine Spray & Wipe All Purpose Cleaner
PERFORMANCE The company correctly warns that it may dull shiny surfaces. Quite foamy and leaves a residue, so the product works best where easily rinsed off, like in the bathroom.
SCENT Orange. Pleasantly short-lived.
ALSO NOTEWORTHY Made with a minimum of 70% organic ingredients; independently certified by Vermont Organic Farmers., $14.98 for 38 oz

Issue 25

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