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Home and Garden, Natural Cleaning

The Best Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products (That Work!)

eco cleaning products

Let me share with you my favourite environmentally and eco-friendly cleaning products from eco-conscious brands, that actually work, updated for 2022.

The eco-friendly cleaning products market can be mind-boggling. From what products actually work, to what products are actually sustainable and environmentally friendly, and understanding what products are simply greenwash.

To help cut through the noise, I want to share my favourite eco-friendly cleaning products that I use on a frequent basis in my house.  These products have been independently verified through certification schemes, and I find that these products either match or exceed the cleaning performance of their harsher counterparts.

The Best Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products That Actually Work

Flat lay of cleaning products, eucalyptus leaves and lemons with a blue text box that says the best environmentally and eco friendly cleaning products that actually work

Here are my favourite cleaning brands and products that are the real deal when it comes to their eco-friendly credentials and effectiveness.

In order to help support the running costs of Moral Fibres, this post contains affiliate links, denoted by *. Moral Fibres may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to readers, on items that have been purchased through those links. This income helps keep this site running.

Eco-Friendly Dish Washing Products

Here are my top eco-friendly cleaning products when it comes to hand washing dishes, and for the dishwasher.

For The Dishwasher

For the dishwasher, I haven’t found a way to make my own dishwasher detergent that works. Instead, I like to use Ecoleaf Dishwasher Tablets (£13.49 for 70*; or £5.45 for 25*). These are a great eco-friendlier AND plastic-free dishwasher detergent. 

These dishwasher tablets are designed to leave your dishes sparkling clean. They have a built-in rinse-aid, degreasing agents, and powerful cleaning action.  I’ve been using them in our soft water area and I concur.  I have found that they perform great on our dirty dishes and glassware.  I’ve also had no issues with their cleaning ability.

In terms of ingredients, it’s 99% good news. Made from plant-derived ingredients, the dishwasher tablets are free of phosphates, SLS, SLES, parabens, triclosan, and synthetic fragrances.  They are also certified cruelty-free and vegan-friendly.  The one downside is that they do contain palm oil.  However, as in all aspects of ethical living, it is practically impossible to find a product that is 100% perfect in every way.

Each tablet is wrapped in a water-soluble wrapper, that dissolves as your dishwasher starts running.  I initially worried that this wrapper might break down into microplastic.  The good news is Grist says no.  The wrapper simply breaks down to carbon dioxide and water. Panic over!

Find out more about other options in my guide to plastic-free dishwasher detergent.

For Hand Washing Dishes

Although I make a lot of my own cleaning products, making effective washing up liquid has always eluded me. As such, for handwashing dishes, I have been using Bio-D washing-up liquid* for years and years now.  

I was initially sceptical the first time I used the washing-up liquid as it seemed quite watery compared to other eco-friendly cleaning product brands.  My fears were unfounded as I found it’s got great cleaning power.  So much so that it is now the only liquid we use.  It’s around £2.50 for a big 750ml bottle and is often available in Oxfam shops, as well as natural food stores.  

If you’re into bulk buying, it’s only £9.30 for 5 litres at Ethical Superstore*. My favourite scent is the pink grapefruit one – it’s so lovely and fresh smelling!

Laundry

I mostly make my own laundry powder. However, when life gets just too busy, I do admit I sometimes use shop-bought laundry powder from eco-friendly cleaning product brands. I, therefore, keep a bag of Bio-D laundry powder* under my kitchen sink. I’m really happy with its cleaning powers at 30°C.  I even used it on my daughter’s washable nappies for over two years, which was a real test of its cleansing and freshening powers!  

Speaking of washable nappies, I also found Bio-D’s laundry bleach* fantastic at sanitising and keeping washable nappies looking clean. It’s an oxygen-based antibacterial and sanitising in-wash whitener odour and stain remover, that does not contain chlorine bleaching agents.

Even though we are well beyond the nappies stage, I still use the laundry bleach now to remove stains and to keep whites light and colours bright. Don’t be frightened by the term ‘bleach’ – it doesn’t work in the same way as chlorine bleach. In fact, this product is great for tackling stains or smells, even on colourfast items.

All of Bio-D’s eco-friendly cleaning products are vegan, certified cruelty-free, and made in the UK. What’s more, all of their ingredients are natural and plant-derived. This means they are free from triclosan, phthalates, petroleum derivatives, formaldehyde, chlorine bleach, genetically modified ingredients, and synthetic fragrances. They are also palm oil-free too.

For more recommendations, do check out my guide to the best eco-friendly laundry detergents, as rated by Ethical Consumer Magazine.

Washing Wool and Delicates

For washing wool and delicates, I’m a fan of the Clothes Doctor range of detergents. The wool and cashmere laundry liquid* (£14.50) is a bit spendy, but this stuff really takes care of your best knitwear.

This specialist laundry liquid is made in the UK with plant-derived and cruelty-free vegetarian and vegan ingredients. And it’s packaged in a plastic-free and recyclable metal bottle. And what’s more, it is lightly scented with delicious-smelling sandalwood and patchouli. As a useful extra, these scents are natural moth deterrents so help to deter pesky moths from nibbly on your knitwear.

If you wear silk clothing, their silk wash* (£14) also does a top job of looking after your silk garments the eco-friendly way.

If Clothes Doctor is too high above your budget, then KINN Living is another eco-friendly cleaning product brand to look at. Their delicate laundry liquid*, suitable for naturally cleaning delicates such as silk or wool comes in at £7.75 in a 1-litre refill pouch. Use this pouch to refill one of your own empty bottles. Alternatively, you can buy one of KINN Living’s recyclable metal bottles that you can refill time and time again.

This delicate laundry liquid is made from plant-based natural ingredients and fragrances. It’s also free from sodium laureth sulphate, parabens, phthalates, musks, toluene, phosphates, PEGs (polyethylene glycols), enzymes, chlorine bleach, optical brighteners, or formaldehyde. It’s also certified vegan AND made in the UK. There’s a lot of good going on here. And it’s great at cleaning your delicates the eco-friendly way, so it’s a win-win!

Sustainable Surface Cleansing

I do make my own surface cleansing products because it’s so quick, cheap, and easy. However, again, when life gets busy, and I’ve run out of ingredients, I do keep a bottle of surface cleanser under my sink just in case.

We’re hand-down Miniml fans when it comes to cleaning surfaces the eco-friendly way.  I love their French Lavender eco anti-bac surface cleaner* (£12 for a 5L refill carton).  It smells lovely and cleans easily.  You get a lot for your money in comparison to some other cleaning product brands, and I use it all around the house.  I even dilute it in water to mop my floors.  Basically, if I’m not using my own homemade cleaning products then I’m using this.  Lavender is naturally anti-bacterial and anti-fungal so it meets all of my needs.

Miniml is a refillable and eco-friendly cleaning product brand. As well as being able to order Miniml* products online, they also offer a great refillable and reusable cleaning system. To help support this you’ll find eco-friendly refill stations around the UK, for things like washing-up liquid and surface cleaning. And for those shopping online, bulk delivery containers can be returned and reused. What’s more, all Miniml products are vegan, cruelty-free, and completely biodegradable. 

The Eco Brands I Avoid

There are many supposedly environmentally and eco-friendly cleaning products brands that I avoid.

Ecover and Method, for example, were bought over by consumer goods giant SC Johnson in December 2017. SC Johnson owns household cleaning brands such as Duck, Shout, Glade, Pledge, and Windex – none of which use environmentally friendly ingredients or take action on single-use plastic. What’s more, Ethical Consumer Magazine says SC Johnson has been linked to animal testing, tax avoidance strategies, unethical palm oil sourcing, and more.

What About Zero Waste Cleaning Product Brands?

In the past two years or so, there has also been a proliferation of zero-waste and plastic-free dissolvable eco-friendly cleaning product brands pop up – from dissolvable sachets to dissolvable laundry sheets.

Here’s my review of five different just add water cleaning products, in case you are looking to make a switch.

So far I have to say I’m not a fan of the dissolvable laundry sheets. One dissolvable laundry sheet product made a terrible sticky mess of my washing machine. I don’t have any recommendations at present for them. If this changes I will update this post!

So there you go, a round-up of some of my favourite environmentally and eco-friendly cleaning products, and my not so favourite ‘eco’ products.  Any favourites you want to add? Any you were disappointed by?

Home and Garden, Natural Cleaning

Stainless Steel Cleaner: Make Your Own Eco-Friendly Version

Don’t buy bottles of chemically dubious stainless steel cleaner. Instead, let me show just how easy it is to make your own effective and eco-friendly version.

Did you know that stainless steel has only been around since 1913? For a material that’s only been in use for a little over a hundred years, stainless steel has quickly taken over our kitchens. In fact, as that article points out “it [stainless steel] has become the metal with which we are the most intimately acquainted; after all, we put it in our mouth almost every day.”

Stainless steel is now ubiquitous in our kitchens. From hobs to ovens, sinks to fridges, to worktops and cupboards. Some kitchens are even made entirely of stainless steel. However, all of that steel comes with some upkeep. I feel like the inventor of stainless steel was having a laugh when they named it. I don’t know if it is just me, but I feel like I can just look at a stainless steel worktop or fridge, and it can leave a mark!

As such, stainless steel does take a bit of cleaning to keep it looking spick and span. General multi-surface cleaners don’t quite have the power to give stainless steel a clean and shiny finish. Meanwhile, specialist stainless steel cleaners can be pricey. I say save your money, save on buying yet another plastic bottle, and use what’s (probably) lurking in your kitchen. Here’s the full how-to!

How to Make Eco-Friendly Stainless Steel Cleaner

Image of a brown amber spray bottle with a blue text box that says how to make all natural stainless steel cleaner

Makes 500 ml

Keeps for up to six months or more

You Will Need

  • 500 ml white vinegar
  • Glass spray bottle
  • Lemon, orange, or grapefruit essential oil
  • Olive oil or coconut oil – whatever you have to hand
  • Three cotton non-scratch cloths or rags

Method

I feel like it’s cheating a bit to list this as a recipe because this stainless steel cleaner is SO simple to make. But it’s so effective that I couldn’t not share:

  • Add 20 drops of your citrus essential oil into your glass spray bottle.
  • Next decant the white vinegar into the bottle.
  • Add the spray trigger, and you’re done.

Keep the oil and two of the rags or cloths to the side for now – you don’t need these right this second.

How To Use This Stainless Steel Cleaner

To use your homemade stainless steel cleaner, first, shake well to combine the oil and vinegar. Next, simply spray down any stainless steel surfaces that you want to clean. Leave it to soak for a few seconds, before wiping with the soft cotton cloth or rag.

Why cotton, you may ask. Well, I find cotton to be most effective at wiping down steel, as it doesn’t tend to leave any lint behind. It also won’t scratch your steel or remove the temperature markings from your hob or oven, unlike abrasive cleaning pads or sponges. Sidenote, if previous cleaning efforts have removed your oven and/or hob markings, I found an Etsy shop that specialises in stove stickers*, to take the guesswork out of cooking. Genius!

Back to the cleaning! My top tip is to follow the grain of your stainless steel as you are cleaning. If you are wondering what this grain is, then you might be surprised to hear that stainless steel has a wood-like grain to it. If you look really closely at your stainless steel object, you should be able to see some faint lines running along the steel. Once you’ve found them, that’s the direction to follow when you are wiping. Wiping against the grain makes it easier for dirt and grease to build up in the grain. Over time, this will decrease the shine of your stainless steel. This is not what we want to achieve so go with that grain!

Now that you’ve used the stainless steel cleaner, you next want to make that steel shine! Everyone swears by using baby oil for this purpose, however, baby oil is a mineral oil that’s made from petroleum. I like to avoid using fossil fuel products when cleaning my kitchen thank you very much.

Thankfully, natural oils such as olive oil or coconut oil do the job effectively, without any need to involve the oil and gas industry. All you have to do is apply a small amount of the olive or coconut oil to your steel, and then, taking the clean dry cloth or rag, work the oil into the surface. Keep buffing until the streaks and stains disappear (and they will, I promise!).

Finally, for good measure, give your steel one last wipe down with the last clean cloth or rag to remove any residue, before standing back to admire your shiny handiwork!

Job done! The shinest stainless steel you’ve ever seen!

Why This Stainless Steel Cleaner Works So Effectively

orange cleaning spray

This stainless steel cleaner works effectively because of its potent ingredients. Vinegar is acidic and can take on dirt, grease, and grime with ease in the kitchen. Meanwhile, citrus-based essential oils cuts through oil like nothing else, meaning your stainless steel will come up spotless. The olive or coconut oil then promotes a shiny finish, without the use of petrochemicals.

Safety Notes

Although vinegar is a great all-natural cleaner, and perfect for cleaning stainless steel the eco-friendly way, there are a few safety considerations you need to make.

Firstly, do not use this stainless steel cleaner on granite, quartz, marble, natural stone, or similar. Vinegar is acidic and can damage these types of worktops. If you do have a stainless steel hob, for example, and these types of worktops, I would spray your cotton cloth and then wipe carefully to avoid touching your worktop, rather than spraying your hob.

Secondly, do not use vinegar to clean anything coated in metallic paint, as it can damage the paintwork.

Thirdly, if you have any stuck-on food stains, don’t reach for the bicarbonate of soda. Let the vinegar soak for a little while to soften the stain, before wiping. Bicarbonate of soda reacts with vinegar to create a weak salt water solution, that’s not good for cleaning.

And lastly, do not mix vinegar with bleach, products containing bleach, or hydrogen peroxide. Doing so can release noxious gases that can be very harmful to your health.

See my full guide to everything you need to know about cleaning with white vinegar for the full rundown.

Storage

As with any cleaning product, homemade or shop-bought, it’s important to both label the bottle, and store your stainless steel cleaner away from children and pets.