It is my belief that the best way to clean is to start with the gentlest solution and slowly work your way up. It sounds silly, but folks are regularly shocked by how often basic soap and water will get the job done!
I prefer using gentle, natural, homemade cleaning solutions because many are safe for my small kids to use beside me. Plus, most of the cleaning ingredients I use can be purchased in bulk which minimizes packaging waste.
However, there are still a handful of commercially manufactured household cleaners that simply do not have a comparable “all-natural” or DIY alternative. Here is my list of non-natural cleaning products I buy, use, and recommend.
- Clean clothes, less waste: you can now have clean laundry and reduce Waste (less plastic, water, and energy; accurate dosing) using safe, plant-powered ingredients
- Proven performance: best liquid detergent on Amazon, based on customer review rating
- Created by doctors: for sensitive skin & Allergy sufferers. No sulfates (SLS, SLES, SCS), or bleach
The internet is full of DIY laundry “detergent” recipes that claim to be more eco-friendly than commercial detergents. The thing is, these DIY recipes aren’t really “detergents,” most of them are laundry “soaps” – there is a difference!
Soaps will leave a film on fabrics causing them to appear grungy over time and tend to only work well(ish) with hot water.
Detergents work well regardless of water temperature. This is great news because washing laundry in cold water (regardless of color) greatly reduces household CO2 emissions and energy consumption.
With that said, not all detergents are created equally. Some recipes are derived from petrochemicals and will not biodegrade. Others are manufactured using plant-based chemicals but do not clean as effectively. This formula by Puracy is highly concentrated (you only use ¼ ounce per load) which minimizes packaging waste.
- Enzyme rich formula cuts through tough grease and food residue to leave dishes sparkling clean
- Free of fragrances, dyes, phosphates, and chlorine bleach
- Convenient single dose dishwasher pods, just toss right into the dishwasher
Much like laundry detergent, DIY dishwasher detergent (“soap”) recipes simply do not work as well as commercially manufactured versions. Not only that, some DIY recipes contain ingredient combinations that can actually damage your dishwasher over time!
While powdered dishwasher detergents tend to be sold in recyclable packaging (usually cardboard boxes), I haven’t found a formulation that works quite as well as dishwasher pods. I like to buy these Seventh Generation dishwasher detergent packs in bulk to minimize packaging waste.
Liquid Dish Soap
- VERSATILE ALL-PURPOSE CLEANER: Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds Biodegradable Cleaner is powerful & concentrated enough to clean floors, laundry, dishes, furniture, & cars—but gently formulated so it...
- PERFECT FOR GENERAL HOUSEHOLD CLEANING: Sal Suds cleans & rinses with exceptional power, yet is mild & gentle on skin. Equally effective in hard or soft water, rinses freely in hot or cold water....
- PLANT-BASED SURFACTANTS THAT WORK: A balanced formulation that cuts grease & dirt, generates copious suds, & biodegrades quickly & fully—can take on tough jobs! Dilute to make your own DIY recipes!
Here’s the thing, I absolutely love using bar soaps. I love using dishwashing bar soaps, bar hand soaps, and I have completely abandoned body wash for bar soap in my shower (this is the one I have used for years).
BUT there is a time and a place for liquid soap as well – especially in cleaning recipes. I use liquid soap in my simple all-purpose cleaning spray (just a tsp of dish soap added to 2 cups of filtered water). Liquid soap is also a key ingredient in my shower cleaning spray.
One thing to keep in mind when shopping for liquid dish soaps is that not all formulations are biodegradable. Like laundry and dishwasher detergents, many of the surfactants in dish soap are formulated from petrochemicals.
I really like using Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds because it is both biodegradable and extremely concentrated. A very small amount goes a very long way (I always dilute mine with water). That means a single bottle will last a very long time (especially if you buy in bulk!), which minimizes unnecessary packaging waste.
Bar Keeper’s Friend / Bon Ami
- As a bleach-free product, Cleanser & Polish is an ideal stainless steel cleaner and can easily remove rust, tarnish, mineral deposits, and tough stains from most surfaces.
- SURFACES: Stainless Steel, Porcelain, Ceramic, Copper Alloys, Fiberglass, Corian, Brass, Bronze, Chrome, Aluminum.
- KITCHEN: Sinks, Cookware, Stove cooktops and exteriors, Countertops (non-stone), Backsplashes, Porcelain or Ceramic Dishes, Drained Floors.
Baking soda can be used to scrub NEARLY anything clean. However, there are occasions where baking soda simply isn’t enough! Namely when cleaning stainless steel cookware. Sure, there are methods for cleaning burn marks on stainless steel with ingredients like white vinegar and baking soda (I listed a handful of methods here if you’re interested).
But, those can require a significant amount of added elbow grease. Bar Keepers Friend and Bon Ami are my two favorite cleaning scrubs. Besides stainless steel, they are great for cleaning dirty sinks, greasy cooktops, bathtubs, showers, and more.
BAR KEEPER’S FRIEND:
- REVITALIZE WITHOUT SCRATCHING: Non-abrasive cooktop pads help easily remove heavily burned on foods, grease & grime. Our cooktop cream uses micro-bead technology to boost cleaning power.
- SHINE & PROTECT: Dramatically cleans, shines, and protects glass/ceramic/induction smooth top ranges. Buff with a paper towel to shine.
- SAFE & EASY TO USE: Leave a streak-free shine while removing splattered food, dirt, oily residue & watermarks. Will not scratch or damage your cooktop.
Last but not least, let’s talk about cooktop polish. If you use a glass or ceramic stovetop then a dedicated cooktop polish is worth having in my opinion. To be clear, there is a difference between cleaning and polishing a cooktop.
Before using a polish you will want to scrub the cooktop to remove cooked-on food and grease, then dry thoroughly. (Hint: If soap and water isn’t enough, Bar Keepers Friend can help with this part of the process!).
Once clean and dry, you might notice small signs of etching or a hazy buildup (likely due to hard water spilling burning onto the surface). These types of blemishes can be magically buffed away by a quality cooktop polish!