10 best natural cleaning products
Have you ever been worried about what toxins could be lurking in your soap?
We’ve put together a selection of cleaning products that are free from chemicals, which are often found in household products from major brands but, in fact, are harmful to both our health and the environmental.
The worst offenders are phthalates, which is used to add fragrance but can be easily absorbed through the skin; triclosan, which is used in dishwashing detergents and can cause the growth of drug-resistant bacteria; 2-butoxyethanol, is found in multipurpose cleaners and can irritate the throat; and chlorine that’s in plenty of bathroom cleaning products but is a respiratory irritant that can cause both acute and chronic health problems.
Our testers got busy trying out everything from washing-up liquid and toilet bowl cleaners to dishwasher tablets and sponges, and we’ve picked a selection that will effectively cover a range of household tasks.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
1. Dr Bronner’s Sal Suds Biodegradable Cleaner: £9.49 for 473ml, Big Green Smile
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Dr. Bronner’s was founded in 1948 by third-generation soapmaker Emmanuel Bronner. We particularly love its all-purpose cleaner, which boasts several uses: you can use it for laundry, cleaning surfaces, washing the dishes, mopping the floor, or to clean bathrooms and sinks. The formula is made with natural fir needle and spruce essential oils, and is free from synthetic dyes, fragrances and preservatives. It’s powerful enough to work well in both hot and cold water, but the mild plant-based formula is gentle on the skin. It may look a little pricey, but it’s a concentrated solution so you only need to use a tiny amount each time. The product is vegan, non-GMO and cruelty-free.
2. Kinn Living Kitchen Cleaner: £4.25 for 500ml, Kinn Living
We love this anti-bacterial cleaner from Kinn Living, a company founded by a mother and daughter pair, whose products are all made in Britain. This kitchen cleaner has a lovely fragrance thanks to the blend of lavender and rosemary essential oils. It comes in a handy spray bottle, which makes it easy to use for cleaning kitchen surfaces and you can also use it to clean taps and cupboard handles. The formula is ECO-certified, natural and plant-based, and is free from common offenders such as petrochemicals, phosphates, synthetic fragrances and dye. It has a neutral ph, which means it’s gentle on the skin. Not tested on animals.
3. LoofCo Washing-Up Pad: £2.50 for one, Green Brands
If you’re going all natural with your washing-up liquid, there’s no reason not to think about what kind of sponge you’re using to do your dishes. We really liked this washing-up pad from LoofCo, a new brand offering biodegradable and recyclable washing-up and cleaning accessories. It’s made from natural loofah plant and coconut fibres, and, when immersed in water, it swells up and becomes spongy and flexible. It’s soft enough to not scratch non-stick pans, but is flexible enough to fit into mugs and glasses. It should last for months, and because it’s biodegradable and plastic-free, once you’re done with it, you can put throw it onto the compost heap. It’s certified as vegan and bio-degradable.
4. Ecover Classic Dishwasher Tablets: £12.85 for 70, Ethical Superstore
Our tester loved these dishwasher tablets by well-known plant-based cleaning product company Ecover, as they not only clean and degrease dishes and cutlery effectively, but also leave your dishwasher with a fresh and subtle perfume. The formula, which has been created to have a minimum impact on aquatic life, is free from chlorine and phosphates, which can cause an overproduction of algae in water, starving marine life of oxygen. This also ensures that no residues of unnecessary chemicals are left on your dishes. The box is made from 95 per cent recycled cardboard, and even the plastic wrappers, which are necessary to protect the tablets from moisture, are completely biodegradable. Certified as cruelty-free.
5. Seventh Generation Cypress Toilet Cleaner: £3 for 946ml, Tesco
Our tester found this plant-based toilet bowl cleaner particularly easy to use, as the nozzle is structured so that the liquid tips out easily without splashing everywhere. The biodegradable formula, created by US plant-based cleaning product company Seventh Generation, does the job well, tackling stubborn stains, and instead of harsh fumes, it leaves behind a gentle fragrance thanks to the emerald cypress and fir essential oils. Certified as cruelty-free, and as a 97 per cent biobased product by USDA.
6. Forever Aloe MPD: £20.66 for 946ml, Forever Living
This multi-purpose cleaner by Forever Living, the world’s largest grower, manufacturer and distributor of aloe vera, is versatile enough to use on everything from laundry and floors to bathrooms, tiles, carpets, cars and dishes. It may seem expensive, but you’ll only need to use a few drops of the concentrated formula each time, so a little goes a long way. We found it was effective at tackling stains and lifting grease, but the gentle, biodegradable formula, which contains soothing aloe vera gel, is kind to skin and clothes. It also comes with a spray bottle, which you can transfer the diluted solution into for handy use around the house, but can easily be used without. Certified as vegetarian and cruelty-free.
7. Method Washing-Up Liquid: £3 for 532ml, Waitrose
Method has quickly become well-known for its beautifully designed cleaning products, and we really liked the easy pump design on this washing-up liquid – a quick squirt leaves you with a pleasing lather on your sponge, sink or dishes, with no drippy mess. Effectively banishing dirt and grease without leaving your hands feeling sore and dry, it comes in a number of refreshing scents, which will make doing the dishes feel like a day at the spa.
8. Faith in Nature Multi-surface Antibacterial Spray Cleaner: £3.90 for 500ml, Ethical Superstore
Faith in Nature was founded in the UK in the 1970s with an aim to create affordable products made from natural, vegetable sources. Its anti-bacterial spray cleaner is great for using on surfaces such as kitchen worktops, bathroom tiles, and windowsills. It’s really simple to use: all you need to do is turn the spray nozzle to the “mist” or “jet” setting, spray directly onto the surface, and leave for about a minute, before wiping off with a clean cloth and leaving to dry. We found stubborn stains may require a repeat application. We like how the formula foams nicely and works efficiently without leaving any streaks. It also has a lovely soft fragrance that doesn’t irritate the nose or throat in the way that some other cleaning products do. Certified as cruelty-free and vegan.
9. Earth Friendly Products Shower Cleaner: £3.60 for 500ml, Green Brands
Cleaning your bathroom may not be the most glamorous of activities, but this shower cleaner from Earth Friendly Products – one of the world’s largest manufacturers of eco-friendly cleaning products – makes the job a breeze. All you need to do is spray it lightly over tiles and glass after a shower, and it works well to eliminate those pesky hard water stains. The eco-friendly formula is made with plant-derived ingredients including aloe vera, tea tree and lavender, which leave a pleasant scent. It also works as a multi-surface cleaner for the bathroom, working equally well for the bath, sink, toilet seat and mirror. Made with 100 per cent renewable energy, it’s certified as vegan and cruelty-free.
10. Puracy Natural Dish Soap: £4.71 for 473ml, Puracy
We love this gentle multi-use soap by Texas-based company Puracy, which creates natural but effective household products that are both safe and stylish. This soap can be used on ceramics, baby bottles, jewellery, patio furniture, porcelain, metals, glass, plastic, rubber, toys and crystal. The hypoallergenic and biodegradable formula is completely free from nasties such as triclosan, sulphates, parabens, phosphates, and is full of natural goodness such as coconut oil, aloe vera, green tea, lime and Himalayan pink sea salt, which have been added to clean effectively whilst being gentle on the skin. It’s easy to use too: either apply the soap to the target surface, create a lather and rinse off, or dilute the solution and leave the surface to soak. Certified as vegan and cruelty-free.
The Verdict: Natural cleaning products
We love Method’s fun washing-up liquid and the innovative washing-up pad. But our absolute favourite is Dr Bronner’s Sal Suds Biodegradable Cleaner, both for its natural formula and wide range of uses.
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