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14 best eco-friendly and natural cleaning products that actually work

Want to shun detergents full of chemicals? These are kinder to the planet

Emily Goddard
Wednesday 07 July 2021 13:30 BST
<p>We studied ingredients, checked the packaging and put their performance to the test</p>

We studied ingredients, checked the packaging and put their performance to the test

A clean home is essential, but at what cost to the planet? For too long, too many of us have used products with harsh and toxic chemicals that can be harmful – to humans, wildlife and the environment.

With spray cleaners such as furniture polish, you could inadvertently contribute to air pollution, not to mention breath in toxins.

That washing up liquid we pour down the drain when doing the dishes could cause chemicals to enter waterways and harm aquatic life. And then there is that mountain of plastic waste created when you have gone through your 100th bottle of window cleaner.

While most people are keen to switch out their traditional cleaning products for more environmentally friendly alternatives, some fear formulas without chemicals are ineffective at shifting dirt and germs. After testing out the products in this round-up, we can assure you that quite the opposite is true.

We set out on a mission to find some of the best eco-friendly products that will get the job done without damaging the earth. We studied ingredients lists to avoid solutions with harmful toxins and chemicals, checked the packaging to find reusable or recyclable options, and put their cleaning performance to the test on even some of the ghastliest grime. It is time to clean up your act, literally.

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The best eco cleaning products for 2021 are:

  • Best overall – Vermont Soap castile liquid soap, tea tree: £9.75,
  • Best for cleaning in a hurry – Cheeky Panda bamboo anti-bacterial surface wipes: £5.99,
  • Best budget buy – Ecozone soap nuts: £6.99,
  • Best fabric conditioner – Kinn eco-friendly fabric conditioner, neroli: £5.95,
  • Best for sparkling surfaces – Smol surface sprays: £10,
  • Best for shifting grease and grime – Ecover cream cleaner: £1.60,
  • Best cleaning cloth – Liga lobster and seaweed eco dishcloths: £6.95,
  • Best washing up liquid – Method green tea and citrus washing-up liquid: £3,
  • Best eco sponge – Beldray eco cellulose sponge: £2.17,
  • Best toilet cleaner – Bio-D toilet cleaner: £2.45,
  • Best multi-tasking set – Delphis Eco home hero bundle box: £21.84,
  • Best laundry detergent – Tru Earth eco-strips: £13.99,
  • Best floor cleaner – Bower Collective floor cleaner with linseed soap refill: £4.49,
  • Best for crystal clear windows – Tincture London glass, mirror, steel tincture: £4.99,

Vermont Soap castile liquid soap, tea tree

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Best: Overall

Cleaning cupboards can so often be crammed with dozens of products for different jobs around the home – this can mean a lot of waste. But this multi-purpose, all-natural wonder can clean almost everything and everywhere, including the car, laundry and even our skin. The liquid soap is made from organic olive, coconut and jojoba oils and organic aloe vera, making it environmentally friendly and safe and non-toxic for humans, plants and pets. The bottles are also recyclable and formaldehyde-free.

We added a dash and diluted it with some water in a spray bottle to clean kitchen and bathroom surfaces, tested it out neat with a load of washing in the machine and used it to wash dirty dishes. Everything comes up sparkling, and the scent of natural tea tree essential oil and rosemary extract is fresh and vibrant. We think having castile liquid soap in your life is an easy way to reduce the waste your cleaning routine produces, and it gives us extra confidence knowing the product is safe for our families and the environment.

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Cheeky Panda bamboo anti-bacterial surface wipes

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Best: For cleaning in a hurry

Wipes are not typically associated with eco-friendly cleaning, but these from Cheeky Panda are not your usual sort. The wipes themselves are made from FSC forest certified bamboo, which uses 65 per cent fewer carbon emissions than using trees, and the cleaning solution is made from simply water, aloe vera and fruit extracts, so they are kind to your hands when mopping up spills. The wipes can also be put in the compost bin after use, and even the packaging is made from recyclable material. We found the wipes surprisingly strong, and they make cleaning up after sticky little fingers a doddle.

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Ecozone soap nuts

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Best: Budget buy

Putting what look like dried-up dates in the washing machine to clean our clothes felt strange, but soap nuts or soap berries have long been used for natural cleaning in south Asia. The little brown husks grow on trees of the Sapindus genus and are a source of Saponin, which is a natural soap. They are simple to use; just pop the required amount – we used five in a hard-water area – into the zip-up pouch included and place with the laundry in the machine’s drum. Wash on your usual cycle and then leave the soap nuts to dry after use (they can be reused four times). Our laundry came out feeling fresh, clean and odour free.

Using this organic, non-toxic, hypoallergenic and biodegradable product in place of a chemical laundry detergent is not just kind to the planet but also on the purse as each wash costs under 7p. Our only complaint is that the husks came in a plastic bag inside the linen drawstring bag, and we were not sure if that extra packaging was necessary.

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Kinn eco-friendly fabric conditioner, neroli

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Best: Fabric conditioner

Washing laundry with soap nuts is great, but if you are used to your clothes coming out of the machine smelling highly scented, you might also want to use this fabric conditioner to add fragrance without damaging the planet. The formula is biodegradable, made without parabens, formaldehyde and SLS/SLES and is cruelty-free. We loved how soft this left our clothes, and the neroli blossom essential oil scent is delicate and floral.

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Smol surface sprays

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Best: For sparkling surfaces

We dread to think how many bottles of spray cleaner we have gone through in our lives. Smol has the answer to this waste problem by offering a cleaning set with three bottles and a dissolvable tablet for each – multi-surface, bathroom and glass and mirror.

When those first solutions are used up, keep the bottle for life and buy just the concentrated tablet refills to make more spray by adding water. The cleaning performance of each of these non-toxic sprays is excellent, and we liked the fresh scents. We were also impressed with the packaging they came in because it was 100 per cent recyclable and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) approved.

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Ecover cream cleaner

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Best: For shifting grease and grime

Tackling stuck-on grime means bringing out the big guns. Traditional cream cleaners can be abrasive and scratch surfaces, but Ecover’s alternative does the job without the damage. We put it to the test on our stainless-steel gas hob and found it tackled even the most burnt-on grease; it was also terrific for cleaning the bathtub. This fully biodegradable cream cleaner is fragrance-free, and there are no harsh chemicals to breathe in or harm aquatic life. It is also not tested on animals, and the packaging is recyclable.

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Liga lobster and seaweed eco dishcloths


Best: Cleaning cloth

These are technically dishcloths, but we have been using them for all sorts of jobs around the home, not least wiping sideboards with the Smol multi-surface spray (£10, and Ecover cream cleaner (£1.60, They look fantastic, thanks to the vibrant seaside-inspired designs, and they are super absorbent, so are perfect for mopping up spills. One side is smooth, while the other features textured scrubbing marks, which are brilliant for shifting stuck-on dirt. And the best thing about the cloths is that they are reusable and easily cleaned with a wash in the dishwasher.

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Method green tea and citrus washing-up liquid


Best: Washing up liquid

Traditional washing up liquid can be seriously harmful to the environment, aquatic life and even our skin. But Method’s offering is made with plant-based and biodegradable ingredients to limit the damage to the planet. Our dishes came up squeaky clean with this sudsy formula, and the scent is gorgeously zesty. The recyclable bottle also looks super stylish on the sink. Beyond the product itself, Method products are cruelty-free, and the company uses biodiesel shipping and offsets the carbon emissions it cannot avoid.

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Beldray eco cellulose sponge

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Best: Eco sponge

Establish an entirely environmentally friendly washing up practice with Beldray’s biodegradable sponges. Made with absorbent plant-based cellulose, these make doing the dishes a breeze, and they are compostable when they reach the end of their life to reduce waste. The ones we tested lasted an impressively long time and got us through several washing up sessions. The cardboard packaging is also recyclable and FSC certified.

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Bio-D toilet cleaner

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Best: Toilet cleaner

We all need to be more mindful about what we are putting down the toilet, and that includes the cleaning products we use. This Bio-D product means business when it comes to ridding bathrooms of limescale, but it does so in an environmentally safe way because it is free from petrochemicals, phosphates and synthetic perfumes.

As soon as this thick product hits the inside of the bowl, it appears to begin to fizz. We left it a while to get to work on the nasties before flushing and finding a visibly clean toilet. The only downside for us was the scent; it is meant to be lemongrass-based, but all we could smell was vinegar. Still, this product does the job, and we were delighted with the result.

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Delphis eco home hero bundle box

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Best: Multi-tasking set

These cleaning products come with the royal stamp of approval, and if something is good enough for the Queen, it is good enough for us. This helpful bundle is a simple way to source the tools for all your cleaning needs. Included in the box are an anti-bac kitchen sanitiser spray, multi-purpose spray, toilet cleaner, washing-up liquid, bathroom cleaner, glass and stainless-steel cleaner spray and even an anti-bacterial hand soap for washing your mitts after the cleaning is done.

We were impressed with the cleaning performance of the products and like that they are made with biodegradable plant-based ingredients and contain no toxins or strong chemicals. Interestingly, Delphis Eco is the first brand in the UK to make its packaging entirely from domestic recycled plastic milk bottles.

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Tru Earth eco-strips

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Best: Laundry detergent

The fact that 32 washes worth of laundry detergent are contained inside these tiny flat packets, blows our minds. Each eco-strip contains a measured amount of ultra-concentrated eco-friendly product, and they dissolve entirely, even on cold washes. Simply tear off one strip per load and either place it in the detergent drawer or in the drum with your laundry.

We tested out the entire Tru Earth range and particularly loved the scent of the fresh linen variety, as well as that all three types are ideal for people with sensitive skin. We also like that the cardboard packaging is super compact, taking up hardly any space in our cupboards, and is compostable – this really is a zero-waste cleaning product.

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Bower Collective floor cleaner with linseed soap refill

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Best: Floor cleaner

There is so much to like about this product and brand. Before we even get onto the cleaning power, let’s look at the packaging. The solution comes in a refill pouch that can be decanted into a reusable bottle, but we really don’t think that is necessary because it pours easily from the spout of the bag. The best part is that you send it back in a prepaid postal return box once it is empty. Bower Collective then cleans and sterilises the pouches before refilling them with their products for the next customers – a truly circular philosophy.

Besides being excited by the admirable approach to limiting waste, the cleaning product itself is made with ethically sourced ingredients and manufactured in the UK for a zero-air miles product. The clean is brilliant, too. Our tester’s home has mostly wooden floors, and this left them fresh and conditioned, thanks to the linseed oil soap. Also, a donation from every purchase goes towards a project to protect endangered, yet vitally important, seagrass.

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Tincture London glass, mirror, steel tincture

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Best: For crystal clear windows

Stainless steel is notoriously tricky to keep looking sparkling and smear-free, but we think we have found the answer to our prayers in this natural cleaner. Inside the chic spray bottle is a planet-friendly ammonia-free formula made with clove, eucalyptus and thyme oils and chamomile extract that left our windows and mirrors crystal clear and stainless steel looking its best.

The spray has a beautiful scent and is safe for use around pets and babies because it is free from all toxic chemicals and synthetic fragrances. When you have used up the bottle, keep hold of it (we wouldn’t want to throw this stylish item away anyway) and use it again and again with Tincture’s refills, which come in a recyclable glass bottle.

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The verdict: Natural cleaning products

Vermont Soap castile liquid soap gives us the chance to do away with dozens of cleaning products for numerous different jobs, dramatically limiting plastic waste. The other huge plus is that it is 100 per cent natural and so is safe for the planet and us. These reasons are why it is easily our best buy.

We have also become huge fans of using Tru Earth eco-strips to clean our laundry and would recommend them to anyone. Good things really do come in small packages.

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For discounts on reusables and sustainable household products, try the links below:

Looking for more eco-friendly finds? Read our guide to everything you need to live plastic-free

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