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Home and Garden, Natural Cleaning

Do Just Add Water Cleaning Products Really Work? 5 Brands Reviewed

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 take on household surfaces? I’ve put several brands through their paces – here’s how I got on.

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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.

Iron and Velvet just add water cleaning products

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.

Before and after cleaning with Iron & Velvet

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?!

The Verdict?

I’d rate Iron & Velvet as a 7/10. 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’d definitely try Iron & Velvet again once they find a way to strengthen their sachets.

Buy a set of five Iron & Velvet Sachets from Social Supermarket* for £10 (£2.00 per 500 ml bottle).

Ocean Saver

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 with 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. I bought four sachets, and whilst the cardboard is recyclable, it felt like a lot of cardboard for four small sachets. 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 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!

Making Ocean Savers cleaning spray

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.

The Verdict?

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 £1.50 (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.

neat just add water cleaning product

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 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, and it is 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.

The Verdict?

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

Spruce just add water cleaning products

Spruce 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.

cleaning with Spruce

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.

The Verdict?

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 directly from Spruce* or via Ethical Superstore*, for £9.99 (£3.33 per 500 ml bottle).

Raindrop

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.

Raindrop cleaning spray

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 based gunk, but it wiped clean in seconds. I found it stood up to kitchen cleaning too, tackling surfaces with ease.

The Verdict

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!

Image of natural cleaning products and equipment in a cream wool basket, with a blue text box that says do just add water cleaning products actually work?
Home and Garden, Natural Cleaning

How To Remove Labels From Glass Jars & Bottles Eleven Ways

Make reusing old jars a cinch, with this guide on how to remove labels from glass jars. Here are eleven easy ways to easily remove sticky labels, without fuss.

Some people have a weakness for shoes or bags. My weakness? Jars and bottles. It’s hard for me to pass by a nice jar or bottle and not think of a way that it could be repurposed. From holding cleaning products, to storing food, to using a jar in place of plastic Tupperware, to storing health and beauty products, to housing homemade preserves, and more, there are endless uses for glass jars.

Nothing beats the high that is when the label on the jar or bottle peels off in one go. On the flip side, there’s nothing quite like that low that sets in when you have a jar where the label just does not budge. I’ve been obsessed with bottles and jars for years now, so when this happens I have some tricks up my sleeve.

How To Remove Sticky Labels From Glass Jars and Bottles

Image of glass pantry jars, with a blue box that says how to remove labels from glass jars and bottles eleven different ways.

Whilst glass is endlessly recyclable, ultimately it’s better to reuse than recycle. If you have a glass jar or bottle that you want to reuse but the label won’t come off, then here are my top techniques to remove the labels, adhesives and glues that are getting between you and your storage dreams:

1. Sodium Percarbonate and Hot Water

If you have some sodium percarbonate (aka laundry bleach) to hand, then this makes for an excellent technique to remove sticky labels. If you don’t have any sodium percarbonate, then do rush to buy it, because it’s actually magic.

To remove labels, simply fill your sink with hot water, and add a generous scoop of sodium percarbonate to the water. Give it a good stir to help the sodium percarbonate dissolve, and then place your jars in the water. Make sure to fill the jars with water so that they sit under the water, rather than floating on top. Then leave your jars to soak for about an hour.

After an hour, you should find that as if by magic your labels should be floating on the water. No residue should remain on your jars, but if it does, rub the glue with a cloth and it should rub right off.

2. The Hot Water Technique

If you don’t have any sodium percarbonate to hand, then another really easy way to remove sticky labels from glass jars and bottles is to fill the empty vessels with hot water.  Simply pop your jars in your sink, and fill them with hot water.  The hot water helps to melt the glue/adhesive.  After one hour, you should be able to peel off your labels in quite a satisfying manner.

3. Remove Labels From Jars With The Soapy Water Method

If the previous two techniques haven’t done the trick, then the soapy water method is the next one to try in your arsenal of techniques.  We won’t be beaten by a pesky label! 

Fill your sink with warm soapy water.  Whilst the sink is filling, use a sharp knife, and carefully score the label in one or two places.  Don’t score too many times, as the label will frustratingly peel off in tiny sections.  This is something you do not want!

Once you’re done scoring, pop your jars in to soak in their lovely bubble bath.  Leave them for at least an hour, and then try peeling the labels off.  

If after an hour the label doesn’t peel off easily, you’ll need to bring out the big guns.  In this case, a scourer, a scrubbing brush, or a cloth.  Scrub the jars or bottles vigorously with your scrubbing tool of choice, to remove as much of the label and/or glue as possible. 

4. Pop Your Jar In The Freezer

Another technique to remove stubborn labels from glass jars and bottles is to turn to your freezer.  Dampening the offending label with some water, and then popping your jar or bottle in your freezer, without the lid on them, for at least three hours can work wonders in removing a persistent label.

Once the time has passed, simply carefully remove the bottle or jar from the freezer and place it on a tea towel.  Don’t place it directly onto your worktop, in case it cracks. Leave your jar to sit for around 45 minutes, to warm up a little, and then the label should peel off.

5. The Olive Oil and Bicarbonate of Soda Method

glass jars of food

I tend to turn to the olive oil and bicarbonate of soda (aka baking soda) method if all my other efforts at label removal have failed.  This is because it does tend to leave your jar or bottle feeling oily, and it can take a good few washes to fully remove this oiliness. 

If you need to resort to this method, simply rub a mixture of equal amounts of bicarbonate of soda and olive oil (or whatever type of cooking oil you have to hand) over the label or glue. 

I find I can just rub the mixture in with a dry cloth for a few minutes before it lifts off the sticky adhesive. However, if the residue is particularly sticky, then try leaving it for around half an hour, before trying to scrub it off.

6. Peanut Butter

Not just for spreading on bread, peanut butter can work wonders at removing labels and price tags from glass.  It’s both the fat content and oil in peanut butter that works wonders in dissolving label adhesive.

For maximum effectiveness, try to remove as much of the label as possible, and then smear a thick layer of peanut butter over what is left on the jar. Let it sit for around 10 minutes, and then scrub it off with a cloth or scrubbing brush. Finally, wash your jar.

Similar to the bicarbonate of soda and olive oil method, it can leave your jar feeling a little oily for a few washes.

7. Eucalyptus Essential Oil

It’s a little known fact that eucalyptus oil works wonders in removing stains from clothing, and removing labels from glass. Simply add three drops of eucalyptus essential oil onto a cloth, and rub the label or adhesive. The essential oil should dissolve the label and/or the glue.

8. Remove Labels From Glass Jars With White Vinegar

As well as being an amazing natural cleaning, white vinegar is also a solvent.  This means it is capable of dissolving other chemicals, including adhesives and greases.  This is good news when it comes to removing labels from glass.  Simply soak a cloth in some vinegar, and then get rubbing. This should hopefully shift even the most stubborn of adhesives.

9. Bust Out The Nail Polish Remover

Nail polish remover works similarly to vinegar. Beautify your jars by popping some nail polish remover onto a cloth, and then rubbing vigorously until the sticky goo shifts. This isn’t my favourite technique, as I’m not the biggest fan of nail polish remover, and I don’t find it as effective as some of the other techniques. However, if you have some to hand, and the other techniques have failed you, then it is always worth a try.

10. Use The Oven To Remove Labels From Glass

You can use an oven to help shift labels from glass jars and bottles. From an energy-saving perspective, if you have one jar then it’s pretty energy-intensive to heat up your oven to remove one label. Save this technique if you have a LOT of jars, or your oven is already on for something else.

If you do choose to use this method, then here’s the full how-to. To help shift stubborn labels, place your glass jar or bottle in a 180°C / 350°F oven for five minutes. Whatever you do, do not leave the jar or bottle in the oven for any longer than five minutes – no matter how stubborn the label has been. And do keep an ear out for the sound of cracking. If you hear this terrible sound, then switch off the oven. Using an oven glove, carefully remove the bottle or glass, and place it on a tea towel. Do not place it straight onto a cold surface otherwise, it could shatter.

If all is well, after five minutes, carefully remove your jar and bottle, and with a cloth try rubbing the residue. Hopefully, the heat from the oven should have sufficiently melted the glue, making it easy to remove.

11. A Razor

Finally, if the jar company has used some kind of super-strength adhesive that feels like only some sort of radioactive substance could remove it, then all is not lost. Whilst you might have tried all of the above methods, I do have one last final trick up my sleeve. You can use a razor to scrape that pesky glue right off.

Taking a razor blade or utility knife, take great care to use a smooth motion to scrape the residue off of your jar. Take great care not to slice the glass or your hand!

Which technique have you had the most success with?

Need to pin this for later?

11 different ways to remove labels from glass jars and bottles