The Best Green Cleaning Products For Your Buck

Alden Wicker
Posted

Your mom had a floor so clean you could eat off of it.

At least, you thought you could.

More and more people are concerned about the host of toxic chemicals in cleaning products, which are bad for both the environment and our health. The same ingredients that provide that “clean” (read: chemical) smell can be carcinogenic, corrosive, and cause asthma. So, we try to buy “green” cleaners whenever we can, but labels like “phosphate free,” “no-bleach,” and “bio-degradable,” complicate our basic question: What’s the safest and eco-friendliest choice for our money?

To settle the question once and for all, we looked up the health and environmental impact ratings for popular green products, peered at their ingredients, scoured review boards to judge their efficacy, and — for those of you who are put off by strong scents — even gave them a whiff.

Check out our findings below; we’ve marked one product in each category that we think is has the best bang for the buck.

Brand Price Green Rating (out of 10)* Scent Effectiveness (out of 5)*
Dishwashing Soap
Trader Joe’s $.12/oz 4.9 Mild 1
Ecover $.15/oz 4 Mild 5
Seventh Generation $.15/oz 8.25 Mild 5
Method $.17/oz 7.5 Mild 3
CVS Earth Essentials $.19/oz Doesn’t disclose all ingredients. Mild 3
Green Works $.30/oz 8.7 Mild 5
Mrs. Myers $.31/oz 4.9 Very Strong 5
All-Purpose Cleaner
CVS Earth Essentials $.04/oz 7** Strong 5
Trader Joe’s $.09/oz 4.9 Strong 5
Ecover $.15/oz 3 Mild 5
Seventh Generation $.15/oz 8.3 Mild 5
Method $.17/oz 7 Strong 5
Mrs. Myers $.31/oz 6.9 Very Strong 5
Green Works $.40/oz 8.7 Strong 5
Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Ecover $.15/oz 5** Very Strong 5
Seventh Generation $.15/oz 9.3 Mild 5
Method $.17/oz 7.5 Moderate 5
Mrs. Myers $.31/oz 4.9 Very Strong 4
Green Works $.40/oz 8.7 Mild 5
Laundry Detergent
Ecover $.15/load 4 Mild 5
Seventh Generation $.15/load 6.3 None 3
Method $.17/load 7.5 Mild 4
Mrs. Myers $.31/load 4.9 Mild 4
Green Works $.40/load 8.7 Moderate 5

*We determined a green rating by averaging the health and environment ratings from Good Guide. Effectiveness was judged by looking up aggregate ratings and reading reviews on retailer sites and blogs.

 

**In the absence of a Good Guide rating, we researched the toxicity of individual ingredients.

  • Capenguin

    I will be looking into buying all of these, but my concern with the laundry detergent is skin sensitivity? It is not just the scent. Where does that come into play?

  • Anonymous

    Another, even cheaper and definitely green alternative: vinegar, baking soda & lemon. You can clean almost anything with these three ingredients. Google it!

  • Leah

    For everything but dishes & laundry, I use baking soda and/or vinegar, depending on the surface. They can’t be beat for simplicity, effectiveness, safety, and cost. (A splash of essential oil is nice too!)

  • Norwex Cleaning Girl

    Thank You!! I am so glad that articles like this are becoming more common. It’s so very important that we start taking a look @ what is under our kitchen sink as so much of it is toxic and actually all together not necessary. I am however disappointed that microfiber & products like Norwex that allow you to clean and disinfect using ONLY WATER are not mentioned. These save time, money and the environment! Learn more at http://www.CarriesNorwex.com you will be happy that you took the time to check it out.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/pub/heather-miletic/5/6b/46a Heather

    This may just be me, but seventh generation cleaning products have such a strong odor that I can’t stand. I just stopped spending money on a brand that made my house smell.

    • Kellyn Westra

      Me too! Bathroom cleaner made me sick. I had to ventilate it the whole day and I didn’t want my baby to be in the bathroom!

  • nostinky

    I had the same problem with the smell of seventh generation. It smelled caustic, which is not something you want visitors to smell let alone yourself smelling it. I worry about how agressive it is when it smells so strongly.

  • Heidi

    I cannot believe that you did not even mention Shaklee’s cleaners. They have had environmentally and “humanly” safe cleaning products since 1960! They were green long before it was cool, and long before these other companies decided to jump on the band wagon.

  • esimo

    Did you do any testing for bathtub regular and grout cleaning? This is my biggest problem that involves tons of scrubbing. Thanks for the article.

    • Lschaffer2887

      Method’s Le Scrub works wonders! A little squirt goes a long way in sinks and tubs!

    • Lschaffer2887

      Method’s Le Scrub works wonders! A little squirt goes a long way in sinks and tubs!

  • esimo

    Did you do any testing for bathtub regular and grout cleaning? This is my biggest problem that involves tons of scrubbing. Thanks for the article.

  • esimo

    Did you do any testing for bathtub regular and grout cleaning? This is my biggest problem that involves tons of scrubbing. Thanks for the article.

  • http://neatfreakwannabe.blogspot.com Jenna

    For anyone who is a Consumer Reports subscriber, they rate cleaning products of all kinds and include green products in those ratings. Although they don’t seem to rate the “greenness” or scent of products, they do rate a wide variety of product types, including shower cleaners (@esimo), carpet stain removers, and fabric softeners.

  • Mvs027

    I would love to have a printable version of this chart without having to print the whole web page.

  • Aliceshea7735

    Shaklee Products have been Green since 1956. I believe they would win in every category!

  • Aliceshea7735

    Shaklee Products have been Green since 1956. I believe they would win in every category!

  • Aliceshea7735

    Shaklee Products have been Green since 1956. I believe they would win in every category!

  • Goldylox78

    seventh generation dishwasher gel does not work very well.

  • Linda Minney

    I agree with Aliceshea. I first used Shaklee Basic H in 1985 and it is even better now. It cleans better than anything else I’ve used AND it is concentrated. By adding the water yourself in reusable spray bottles you keep HUNDREDS of plastic containers out of the recycling or waste stream.

  • Linda Minney

    I agree with Aliceshea. I first used Shaklee Basic H in 1985 and it is even better now. It cleans better than anything else I’ve used AND it is concentrated. By adding the water yourself in reusable spray bottles you keep HUNDREDS of plastic containers out of the recycling or waste stream.

  • Linda Minney

    I agree with Aliceshea. I first used Shaklee Basic H in 1985 and it is even better now. It cleans better than anything else I’ve used AND it is concentrated. By adding the water yourself in reusable spray bottles you keep HUNDREDS of plastic containers out of the recycling or waste stream.

  • Suzzaroo

    I can’t believe you rate Green Works so highly, or that they are even on your list. I was told by the installers of our new bathtub that we should never use Green Works because it is very strong and the bathroom cleaner is corrosive to the fixtures. Their toilet bowl cleaner even takes the color away off the packaging if you let it drip. We were told it is not very “green” as they claim. Dr. Bronner’s Magic soap and vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda are what I use. They also make Sal Suds as a cleaning product but I prefer not to have the scent.

  • Suzzaroo

    I can’t believe you rate Green Works so highly, or that they are even on your list. I was told by the installers of our new bathtub that we should never use Green Works because it is very strong and the bathroom cleaner is corrosive to the fixtures. Their toilet bowl cleaner even takes the color away off the packaging if you let it drip. We were told it is not very “green” as they claim. Dr. Bronner’s Magic soap and vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda are what I use. They also make Sal Suds as a cleaning product but I prefer not to have the scent.

  • Suzzaroo

    I can’t believe you rate Green Works so highly, or that they are even on your list. I was told by the installers of our new bathtub that we should never use Green Works because it is very strong and the bathroom cleaner is corrosive to the fixtures. Their toilet bowl cleaner even takes the color away off the packaging if you let it drip. We were told it is not very “green” as they claim. Dr. Bronner’s Magic soap and vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda are what I use. They also make Sal Suds as a cleaning product but I prefer not to have the scent.

  • Suzzaroo

    I can’t believe you rate Green Works so highly, or that they are even on your list. I was told by the installers of our new bathtub that we should never use Green Works because it is very strong and the bathroom cleaner is corrosive to the fixtures. Their toilet bowl cleaner even takes the color away off the packaging if you let it drip. We were told it is not very “green” as they claim. Dr. Bronner’s Magic soap and vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda are what I use. They also make Sal Suds as a cleaning product but I prefer not to have the scent.

  • Suzzaroo

    I can’t believe you rate Green Works so highly, or that they are even on your list. I was told by the installers of our new bathtub that we should never use Green Works because it is very strong and the bathroom cleaner is corrosive to the fixtures. Their toilet bowl cleaner even takes the color away off the packaging if you let it drip. We were told it is not very “green” as they claim. Dr. Bronner’s Magic soap and vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda are what I use. They also make Sal Suds as a cleaning product but I prefer not to have the scent.

  • Misstonya1982

    What suprises me the most about this list is that Genesis 950 is not on it. It is by far the most effective cleaner I have ever used and it is considered green in the sense it has low VOCs. How did it not even get onto the list?

  • Misstonya1982

    What suprises me the most about this list is that Genesis 950 is not on it. It is by far the most effective cleaner I have ever used and it is considered green in the sense it has low VOCs. How did it not even get onto the list?

  • Misstonya1982

    What suprises me the most about this list is that Genesis 950 is not on it. It is by far the most effective cleaner I have ever used and it is considered green in the sense it has low VOCs. How did it not even get onto the list?

  • Misstonya1982

    What suprises me the most about this list is that Genesis 950 is not on it. It is by far the most effective cleaner I have ever used and it is considered green in the sense it has low VOCs. How did it not even get onto the list?

  • Misstonya1982

    What suprises me the most about this list is that Genesis 950 is not on it. It is by far the most effective cleaner I have ever used and it is considered green in the sense it has low VOCs. How did it not even get onto the list?

  • Misstonya1982

    What suprises me the most about this list is that Genesis 950 is not on it. It is by far the most effective cleaner I have ever used and it is considered green in the sense it has low VOCs. How did it not even get onto the list?

  • Misstonya1982

    What suprises me the most about this list is that Genesis 950 is not on it. It is by far the most effective cleaner I have ever used and it is considered green in the sense it has low VOCs. How did it not even get onto the list?

  • http://www.capricorntoday.com Courtney

    I love Green Works.  I don’t know how “green” it actually is. (I will trust whatever research you have done, I have done NONE! lol) 

    The all purpose cleaner is my favorite and I prefer the smell over Mrs. Myers; I love the “clean” smell.

  • Sahsa Xavier

    You guys really need to add Genesis 950 to this list. It is by far the BEST cleaning product I have ever used and it’s green. It would fit into the all purpose cleaner section, but it does way more then that. It’s worth you guys checking out and adding to the list. It would bump some of those other things off the list easily. http://amerikal.hubpages.com/hub/The-Best-All-Purpose-Green-Cleaner-To-Clean-Carpets-And-Remove-Stains

  • Sahsa Xavier

    Another really good green cleaner is Genesis 950. I use it for everything. I initially got it for cleaning pet stains out of carpet. I wanted something that wouldn’t harm my dogs and cats if they breathed it in, licked at it or layed down on it. But the uses are endless and it is my go to cleaner for everything. http://www.amazines.com/article_detail_new.cfm/6164477?articleid=6164477