Are you intrigued by the new breed of just-add-water cleaning products? You might be wondering do these dissolvable cleaners actually work, and can they actually take on household surfaces? I’ve put several brands through their paces – here’s how I got on.
Whilst I mostly make my own cleaning products, I do sometimes turn to pre-prepared eco-friendly cleaning products when life gets especially hectic. Whilst I have blogged about what, in my opinion, are the best eco-friendly cleaning products that work, things are changing a little in the eco-friendly cleaning world.
A whole host of just-add-water cleaning products are coming to the fore. Here, as the name implies, you simply add a sachet, tablet or bottle of concentrated cleaning product to water, and dissolve it, to create a cleaning spray or liquid.
These types of dissolvable products certainly make sense. From reducing plastic waste to reducing the carbon emissions associated with shipped products comprised predominantly of water, it is good for the environment to reduce harm where we can.
But do these just add water products work? Can they really tackle grease and grime, and everything else that life has to throw at us?
The Best Just Add Water Cleaning Products – Tried and Tested
I’ve put several just-add-water cleaning products through their paces. Here’s how I got on!
Iron & Velvet
I love the concept of Iron & Velvet’s dissolvable cleaning products. So much so, that this was the first just-add-water cleaning product that I tried. I bought a starter pack of five sachets. These arrive in one little cardboard box, no bigger than what it needs to be.
Unfortunately, I got off to a bad start. The sachets arrived intact, but after a few weeks, some inexplicably burst in the box. I hoped this was a one-off, so, chalking it down to user error, I bought another box. Unfortunately, when it arrived, a sachet had already burst.
Sadly, things continued to be tricky when I tried to make up the solution. Each sachet has a code printed on it, and you get a little key to identify what the codes mean. Because some sachets had burst, I think part of the codes must have been wiped off due to the spilt detergent. It was a bit of a puzzle to identify exactly what I was using!
Once I thought I had identified the right sachet, things were a lot more plain sailing. It was really easy to mix up the solution. Simply pop a sachet in an empty bottle, add the listed amount of lukewarm water for your specific sachet, and then shake. It did not take long for the sachet to fully dissolve.
The performance of Iron & Velvet’s just add water cleaning products was excellent. I couldn’t fault its cleaning power – the cleaner tackled all the dirt and grease my kitchen could throw at it.
What I will say is that the scent did surprise me. I made up the coconut and lime kitchen surface cleaner, but I could detect neither coconut nor lime. Both my partner and I thought it had a smell more reminiscent of polish. It wasn’t a bad smell, it just wasn’t what I was expecting! I’m now wondering if I perhaps made up the oven cleaner instead?!
I’d rate Iron & Velvet as a 6/10. The cleaning power was faultless, and I admire their minimal packaging.
Unfortunately, the packaging just wasn’t robust enough, and I lost 3 sachets worth of product, making it the least cost-effective just add water cleaning solution I tried. I also found the labelling situation confusing.
I’d definitely try Iron & Velvet again once they find a way to strengthen their sachets and use a different coding system.
Buy a set of five Iron & Velvet Sachets from Social Supermarket for £10 (£2.00 per 500 ml bottle).
Similar to Iron & Velvet’s sachets, with Ocean Saver you add a sachet to warm water and allow it to dissolve. They do seem a lot more sturdy, as even after being stored in my kitchen for a few months, the sachets are still intact.
What I would say is that Ocean Saver isn’t so minimal with its packaging.
Each sachet comes in an individual box and a big sticker. I bought four sachets, and whilst the cardboard is recyclable, it felt like a lot of cardboard for four small sachets. I didn’t need the sticker, so as it couldn’t be recycled it ended up having to go in the bin.
That being said, each sachet makes a huge 750 ml-sized bottle of cleaning product – considerably more than the other brands – so there is some efficiency there.
I got on fine with the sachets and had no problems with the cleaning power. The sachets tackle household dirt and grime with ease.
The only Ocean Saver product I struggled with was the bathroom cleaner. This one comes as a solid tablet, rather than a sachet. That would have been fine, had the tablet not been too big to pass through the neck of my standard-sized spray bottle. It feels like a bit of a design flaw!
I ended up using an 800 ml plastic bottle, but even that wasn’t wide enough to accommodate the tablet. To use the cleaner, I had to dissolve the tablet in a measuring jug, and then decant it into the bottle. To be honest, with this extra step, it was no quicker than making my own bathroom cleaning spray.
Whilst it had a nice fruity fragrance that doesn’t smell synthetic, of all the just add water cleaning products, Ocean Saver has the most artificial colour. The bathroom cleaner is hot pink, and for an eco-friendly cleaning product, I felt this highly artificial colour just doesn’t sit very well.
I’d rate Ocean Saver as 8/10. I can’t fault the cleaning power, I loved the smell, and I love that it’s a more affordable option compared to all the other brands. However, I’d love to see them minimise their packaging a little. It would also be good if the solid bathroom cleaning tablets were a slightly more efficient shape so that they can fit in standard bottles, and perhaps less hot pink!
Buy Ocean Saver from Ethical Superstore for £1.75 (makes a 750 ml bottle).
neat. Just Add Water Cleaning Products
neat’s dainty little glass bottles look like they contain spirits. But don’t mistake these for mini bottles of vodka or gin! These are concentrated refill cleaning products that you definitely don’t want to drink!
Super easy to use, you simply fill an empty bottle with about 95% water. Then you simply pour the entire contents of the neat. bottle into the bottle of water. Pop the nozzle on, shake, and you are good to go in seconds. It’s so fast – there’s no need to wait for anything to dissolve.
I tried out the Seagrass & Lotus multi-surface cleaning spray, and it tackled most of my kitchen with ease. This particular cleaner struggled with grease near my cooker, but apart from that seemed to tackle most other areas of my home without issue.
Scent-wise, it was definitely one of the stronger and more synthetic scents of all the just-add-water cleaning products. Whilst not at all unpleasant, the Seagrass & Lotus one smelled a lot like fabric conditioner. After years and years of making my own cleaning products, I am used to more subtle-smelling cleaning products, and I did find it was a bit too overbearing for me.
I did like that the refill bottles are plastic-free – right down to the recyclable metal lids. The only drawback is that whilst glass is endlessly recyclable, it can be carbon-intensive to ship glass as it is heavier. It is also carbon-intensive to recycle into new products.
It would be good if it was possible for neat. to have a return and refill scheme for their bottles, to make them more eco-friendly. Or to use one larger bottle that holds multiple doses, to make it more efficient.
I’d rate neat. as 7/10. I’m not convinced that transporting mini glass bottles is the most eco-friendly packaging option, although I do appreciate that the bottles are entirely plastic-free. The Seagrass & Lotus cleaning spray also had quite a strong synthetic scent that wasn’t entirely to my taste. And whilst it left most of my surfaces sparkling, I felt it didn’t take on kitchen grease as well as some of the other brands.
Buy neat. from Ethical Superstore for £2.75 (makes a 500 ml bottle).
Spruce’s just add water cleaning products are a bit different – they arrive in powder form. My first impressions were that packaging is kept to a minimum: the packets are similar in size to sugar or coffee sachets. I also loved that once you’re done with the packet, it’s fully home-compostable.
I found Spruce easy to use. Simply cut open the packet, pour the powder into a bottle, and then slowly add water. Do add the water slowly as it does tend to foam up. Pop the spray nozzle on, give it a swirl and you’re ready to clean. I used the Spruce refillable metal bottles, but you can use your own 500 ml bottles.
Cleaning-wise, I was impressed. It cleaned my kitchen surfaces with ease, even the greasy bits. And I found it was great at tackling bathroom grime too. Scent-wise, I was also impressed. The kitchen cleaner has a lovely geranium scent that’s not overbearing. Meanwhile, the bathroom cleaner has a fresh natural eucalyptus scent that I loved.
The one drawback was the cost. If you buy a three-pack of refill sachets, it works out at £3.33 per sachet – the most expensive of all the just add water cleaning products.
I’d rate Spruce 9/10. I love this product. I love the minimal packaging that’s home compostable, and I would say it smells the best out of all the just-add-water cleaning products I tried. There’s no compromise in cleaning power, and the kitchen cleaner in particular tackles grease with ease. I deducted a point as this product is considerably more expensive compared to all the other brands – coming in at almost £1 more expensive per refill.
Buy from Ethical Superstore for £9.99 for three refill sachets (£3.33 per 500 ml bottle).
Lastly, I tried out Raindrop’s multi-surface cleaning spray. My first impressions were good. I liked how three tablets came in one tiny little cardboard box – there was no excess packaging here.
I also liked that Raindrop had thought about how the product would be used. The solid rounded tablet slipped effortlessly into a standard-sized bottleneck, which I appreciated. There was no having to dissolve it in a separate jug before having to decant it.
The tablet dissolved quickly in water and was ready for use in no time. The multi-surface cleaner is supposed to be lavender-scented, but I would disagree. My partner and I found it to be more of a pine smell, not too dissimilar to furniture polish.
What about the all-important cleaning? Well, I’m pleased to report that it takes on surfaces with ease. Its biggest challenge was my daughter’s desk. It is normally covered in all sorts of sticky gunk, but it wiped clean in seconds. I found it stood up to kitchen cleaning too, tackling surfaces with ease.
My rating? 9/10. I love the minimal packaging, and I can’t fault Raindrop’s cleaning power. I deducted a point as I felt the scent wasn’t entirely what I was expecting from a lavender-based cleaning product, but I would buy this one again.
Buy Raindrop via Etsy, for £6.99 for 3 tablets (£2.33 per 500 ml bottle).
Have you tried any of these products? What did you think? Or do you have any other just add water cleaning product recommendations? I’m all ears!