These all-purpose biodegradable cleaning brands are better than most brands on the market. Gather all your toxic cleaners and securely wrap and bin, and switch to something better. Use with biodegradable cleaning cloths.
Avoid essential oils and Borax/alternatives near pets (close toilet lids, after cleaning). See toxic houseplants to avoid near pets (plants don’t clean the air; a 30-year old myth – just brushing a tail against a lily, sago palm or cheese plant can harm). Avoid disinfectants near pets (they lick their paws: Erin Heights Vet Hospital says Dettol destroys bacteria walls) and Veterinary Poisons Information Service says Zoflora can cause ulcers.
Never mix cleaners of any kind with bleach (you could die, really). Keep essential oils away from babies and pets, and also avoid Borax (toxic to pets, close toilet lids, after cleaning if used). Read why not to harm spiders (most die if put outside) and use humane methods to deter ants, mice etc.
Houseplants don’t ‘clean the air’ (some houseplants are toxic to pets like lilies, sago palm and cheese plants). Don’t use disinfectants near pets (they lick their paws after walking on countertops etc – Erin Heights Vet Hospital says Dettol destroys bacteria walls, and Veterinary Poisons Information Service says Zoflora can cause ulcers.
Elmkind Lavender & Tea Tree All-Purpose Cleaner is sold in an aluminium bottle with refill concentrate to make 5 x 500ml bottles. Profits help animal welfare and ocean clean-up charities. Or use Sweet Orange Natural Kitchen Cleaner (use Bio-D unscented above, if you live with pets).
Greener Cleaner offers a range of household cleaning tools that are made from recycled plastic. The Duster is perfect to clean furniture, cornices, windows, ornaments and cupboards. There is also a window wiper and a dustpan and brush (avoid the dish brushes as they would deposit plastic microplastics down the sink). But the rest are great!
Spruce is a new eco cleaning company, designed to reduce both chemicals and waste. You can buy a multipurpose or bathroom cleaning kit with refills. Made with organic essential oils,these vegan cleaners cut through grease and grim and can be used on tiles, countertops, stone, wood and most sealed surfaces, leaving your home smelling like a spa with a mild geranium france. Just add water to a refill pack to make a full bottle of cleaner. The outer packaging is plastic-free and printed with biodegradable inks, and for each kit sold, they remove ocean-bound plastic to the same as 25 500ml plastic bottles.
To use, just fill with tap water slowly to avoid excess foaming to make 500ml of cleaner. Dispose the pack with food waste, or cut in small bits and compost at home to turn into rich fertiliser. Do not recycle with paper or plastic. 18 months shelf life. The bathroom cleaner smells of eucalyptus oil.
Bide offers eco-friendly cleaning boxes that support unemployed women. Each monthly box contains 400g of eco dishwasher powder fragranced with peppermint essential oil, an eco washing up liquid with lemon oil (pour into a bottle and dilute with water) and 10 eco toilet cleaning bombs to fizz up with lavender, peppermint and eucalyptus essential oils.
Greenscents is one of the best cleaning and laundry ranges sold in the UK. This family business in Somerset makes vegan and biodegradable products, using organic and ethically sourced ingredients, either unscented or with essential oils, in recycled plastic packaging, including bulk.
Multi-Purpose Plastic-Free Cleaning Sheets
These plastic-free multi-purpose cleaning sheets are a new invention from Yorkshire. Made in The Netherlands, they are made just from coconut oil, essential oils and polyvinyl alcohol (we looked this up and emailed people and it’s not microplastics, it’s one of the few that does not harm aquatic life and bio-degrades – read for yourself. blastic and planet hope
Vegan and free from palm oil, these are sold in a paper envelope and just remove the water so you are just left with a powder. The sheets dissolve in hot or cold water to produce a biodegradable cleaner. Choose from a pack of 10 or a pack of 30 in fresh lemon. Just pop one sheet in a bottle and add water, shake for 2 minutes or submerge in a bucket with one sheet per 500ml to 750ml. Good to wash up or to clean bathrooms, kitchens, windows and floors. They an also be used as dishwasher tablets, just fold one or half a sheet in the tablet drawer to leave dishes clean and sparkly. Handle with dry hands and store in a cool dry place away from damp conditions.
Use with If You Care Fair Trade rubber gloves (lined with natural cotton, use a separate pair for the dishwasher). These are packed in recycled cardboard, with nontoxic glues and vegetable inks. Air-dry and store away from sunlight, avoid use with corrosive substances).
Mix Clean Green is on a mission to transform the household cleaning industry by providing eco conscious and cruelty-free alternatives to reduce impact on the planet. All ingredients are sourced as close to home as possible to reduce carbon footprint with an emphasis on zero waste and plastic-free packaging. Items are formulated to reduce water consumption and contain no nasty toxins.
The Best Natural Disinfectants
- Bio-D is sold in recycled plastic bottles, often bulk sizes and refill bottles in health shops and farm shops. There are unscented options including fragrance-free sanitising handwash that neutralises 99.9% of harmful germs. Also makes Floor Cleaner.
- Greenfrog Botanic Out & About Disinfectant is one of the best on the market. This natural organic disinfectant can be used on hands and surfaces, and is made with hypochlorous acid, which is a WHO-recognised disinfectant and is PH neutral, so kind to hands while killing 99.9% of germs and viruses. Free from alcohol, it’s certifed by the European Chemical Agency. Made in the UK, the plastic bottle can be recycled.
Fill Refillable Vegan Scrub Powder
Fill Refillable Vegan Scrub Powder is made with biodegradable ingredients (including clary sage essential oil) and sold in a glass bottle, which you can fill up with a refill pouch, when you run out. Made in Nottinghamshire by a family company, it also contains linalool (not in unfragranced) and over 30% recycled waste marble powder. To make your own cream cleaner, just place the powder in a bowl and add a few drops of water (no more than one or teaspoons needed). Stir to make a thick paste, then test on an inconspicuous area, before use. Then use with any preferred cleaning tool, to remove dirt, grime and limescale.
Bicarbonate Soda & White Vinegar
Most natural cleaning recipes use baking soda and white vinegar, but you won’t get far with those tiny pots of baking soda in shops, and most supermarkets don’t sell white (cleaning) vinegar. You can buy in bulk from Dri-Pak (their site has lots of cleaning tips).
This bulk box of bicarbonate of soda is ideal to use, instead of toxic cleaning products, and can be used instead of many items. Made in Northamptonshire, this natural cleaning agent is good for absorbing bad smells, or as a mild abrasive, to cut grime. Derived from sodium carbonate, water and recycled CO2 – this is a mild alkali mineral that can combine with eco washing and cleaning products, to give surfaces a more powerful clean. Sold as a starter kit and 500g refill jar. Not for food use. Use baking soda for:
- Absorbing smells in the fridge (keep in a bowl)
- A mild abrasive cleaner
- Sprinkle on carpets overnight (away from pets and children) then vacuum the next day, to remove odours
- Bee stings (mix 1/4 cup with 2 teaspoons of water, then apply paste every 15 minuts to reduce inflammation (wasp stings should be treated with white vinegar). Wipe in opposite direction to the sting with the edge of a credit card, to avoid squeezing venom into the skin.
This bulk box of cleaning vinegar is ideal to replace lots of toxic items that are normally used for household cleaning. Diluted to a safer concentrate, you can use this for cleaning glass, floors, work surfaces and bathrooms. Made in Northamptonshire, just add a small amount to eco cleaning products or water to get rid of tough stains and limescale. You can buy the starter pack then order refill jars. Not suitable for food use. Vinegar is acidic, so don’t use on natural stone, unsealed grout or waxed surfaces. Test on an out-of-sight area, and dilute if concentration is too high. Wearing gloves is recommended. Vinegar can be used to:
- Remove limescale from taps & kettles
- Clean glass & mirrors
- Clean windscreens
- Clean washing machine seals/drawers
- Use instead of rinse aid or fabric conditioner
Natural Cleaning Tips
- To clean a washing machine, use 1/2 cup of white vinegar in final rinse (use 2 cups on empty hot cycle to clean machine). Add 1/2 cup baking soda to the drum, then wipe inside with damp cloth.
- To whiten socks without harmful bleach, just add 1 teaspoon of vinegar to one litre of heated (warm) water, then soak for 30 minutes, then wash as normal. You can alternatively use lemon juice, but it will take longer (a few hours).
- For reusable cleaning cloths, nappies and menstrual pads, replace fabric conditioner (reduces absorbency) with white vinegar in the final rinse.
Bio-D Natural Furniture Polish
Bio-D has launched the UK’s most eco-friendly wooden furniture polish. Packed in a metal tin and free from chemicals and beeswax, this is a vegan-friendly polish that you can use to maintain your furniture. It contains linseed oil to nourish wood (flammable on its own but okay in this hopefully) and protect against finger marks and spillages. No palm oil either.
Books for Natural Cleaning Recipes
Go Toxic Free looks at hidden chemicals and their environmental impact, then takes you on an in-depth tour of your house and garden and reveals the substances lurking, with essential swaps and tips to avoid them, whenever you can. From food and water, to clothes, cosmetics and household cleaners.
Clean Green is a beautifully illustrated guide, with homemade recipes for all-purpose cleaners, bathroom cleaners, stain removers and furniture polish.
Clean & Green is a beautifully illustrated guide from Bake-Off winner Nancy, with 101 simple swaps for cleaning your home, including everyday cleaning and laundry, removing stains and zero-effort oven cleaner.
MACK is a new range of biopods, designed to clean your home without chemicals. Designed to keep working for up to 28 days after the first clean, they use fermenation extracts, enzymes and green surfactants, for biodegradable ingredients that instant lift dirt, oil, grease and grime from surfaces, and also eliminiate odours. This produces good bacteria, enzymes, carbon dioxide and water, to naturally break down.
Made in the UK, these items are free from palm oil and fully biodegradable, and also reduce plastic waste. Even the stickers on the spray bottles are plastic-free. The BioPods are septic tank friendly, and once diluted, remain effective for up to 3 months. Ther eare 11 varieties to choose from:
- Auntie Bac is an anti-bacterial and disinfectant spray
- Ocean Potion is a multi-surface cleaner for worktops, walls, mirrors and glass.
- Fat Buoy is a kitchen degreaser for food prep areas (for stubborn stains, use 2 applications followed by Auntie Bac).
- The Shining is a kitchen and bathroom all-rounder for shower cubicles, baths, sinks, taps and toilets.
- WTF (wash those floors) Floor Cleaner is concentrated to clean and degrease floors. Spray and use with a damp mop.
- Dr Dre’n Drain Unblocker is a citrus-scented formula to clear slow-moving drains caused by build-up of soap scum, hair and debris. The enzymatic action will break down substances, to aid flow of wastewater. Dissolve in a 1-litre container with warm water, and pour 250ml down each plug hole, leaving for at least 4 hours for best results.
- Hairy Scumbag Drain Maintainer helps keep pipes, drains and plug holes runnning freely. Use to deal with blockages and use as a maintainer each month. Dissolve in a 1 litre jug of warm water and pour 250ml down each plug hole, leaving for at least 4 hours.
Bad Medicine Surface Deodoriser has a cherry scent and is perfect for footwear, cushions and sofas (not an air freshener and do NOT use it on pet beds as advertised, as the scent could harm). Just add to a clean bottle, fill with warm water and shake to dissolve.
Squeaky Clean Cleaner is a lemon-scented cleaner for washing machines and dishwashers, to keep them running efficiently. Pop one into an empty machine, and run on a regular cycle.
Ocean Plastic Spray Bottle is the ideal bottle for making up your own cleaning products. But this one is made from recycled ocean plastic, with a metal-free spray. Designed to be used again and again, the 500l size has a logging trigger spray and the plastic is picked up from coastlines worldwide.
Natural Stain Removal Bar is a plant-based bar made with biodegradable ingredients, to effectively remove stubborn stains. Safe for clothing and skin, it’s made from soapnuts (organic tree fruits that contain real soap – do not put in compost bin, as the natural insecticide could harm garden creatures – it will naturally break down in the bin). The stick will not discolour clothes or fabrics, and is effective on grass stains, red wine, ketchup, blood, grease, collars and cuffs. Even the most stubborn stains are washed away. To remove fabric stains, wet the material and bar to create suds, then wash. For carpets and upholstery, wet bar and rub into a sponge then apply, remove excess suds with a damp cloth and leave to dry. Made in the UK and free from palm oil, packaged in a paper sleeve. Scented with eucalyptus and the deodorising power of litsea.
Dr Dre’en is a citrus-scented ocean friendly drain cleaner to speed up slow-moving drains and pipes. It comes in a handy Biopod that dissolves in a jug of water and pours down the plughole. The plastic-free pod dissolves and is extremely effective. Can remove small blockages only. Hairy Scumbag is the drain maintainer and the former may not be needed. Coconut based enzymes and natural surfactants are key to lift dirt, oil, grease and grime. Safe for septic tanks.
Scrubbing Brush has tampico bristles and a beechwood handle, and a handle that is easy to hold and use. Won’t scratch surfaces and is resistant to heat, acids and alkalis, with good water absorption so good for scrubbing.
Citric acid (in compostable pouches) is a good household staple to have on hand in plastic-free packaging. You can use citric acid to replace many toxic cleaning items. A natural acid found in citrus fruits, it’s ideal to remove limescale (especially in areas with hard water). This helps items like kettles, coffee machines, steam irons and washing machines to last longer, and also uses electricity. You can also use it as a sub for white vinegar in homemade cleaning recipes.
- To remove limescale in kettles, pour in a tablespoon of citric acid and enough water to cover the baseplate, then switch it on and turn off just before it boils. Repeat, then discard the water and rinse thoroughly.
- You can also use a hot water solution of citric acid to remove limescale from showerheads, and to restore cloudy drinking glasses.