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?
Garden, Home and Garden

The Beneficial Weeds You Want In Your Garden

Put that spade and pair of secateurs down! Before you do any weeding at all, have a read about the beneficial weeds you want in your garden that help the environment, and help support wildlife. You can even eat some of them too.

It’s time we changed how we look at gardening. With the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) no longer classing slugs and snails as pests – instead urging people to consider these creatures as an important part of the garden ecosystem – it’s high time we did the same with weeds.

It was Ian Emberson who wrote the words “a weed is a flower in the wrong place, a flower is a weed in the right place”. Instead of waging war on the flowers in the wrong place, let’s change how we look at them. Many weeds after all are beneficial to the environment, our gardens, and to wildlife. And surprisingly, many weeds are edible too.

The Beneficial Weeds You Want In Your Garden

A garden planter with a blue text box that says the beneficial weeds you want in your garden.

In the UK, our collective private gardens cover an area of land that is bigger than all of the country’s nature reserves combined. That’s a huge area and means our gardens have great potential to provide vital space for wildlife.

We can start to make positive changes, just by changing how we view weeds.

Here are just some of the beneficial weeds you want in your garden, that all help to support our native wildlife. Many of these weeds are also beneficial when it comes to growing fruit and vegetables, and many are also edible. Of course, do consult a book on foraging or an app if you have any doubts about identifying edible types of weeds before you eat them.

Nettles

patch of nettles

Top of the list is nettles. Nettles are an amazing beneficial weed because these stinging plants support an array of wildlife. Butterflies, such as the Red Admiral and Small Tortoiseshell, and moths lay their eggs on nettles. Meanwhile caterpillars and aphids and other insects all eat nettles. In fact, nettles can support over 40 types of insects.

However, it’s not just insects that benefit from the presence of nettles. A host of other wildlife is attracted to nettles because they like to eat the insects that gorge on nettles. Ladybirds, parasitic wasps, hedgehogs, frogs, toads, shrews, and birds such as blue tits, all visit to feast on these insects and aphids. It’s a veritable feeding frenzy!

In the autumn, nettles provide a further feast. Small birds, including the sparrow, chaffinch, and bullfinch come to feast on the seeds which each nettle plant produces.

Companion Planting With Nettles

If you grow your own fruit and vegetables, then nettles make for great companion plants. This is because growing clumps of nettles between crops help to attract beneficial predators, such as ladybirds. These will help to control pests naturally, without the use of harmful pesticides.

Eating Nettles

You can also eat nettles. In spring you can make delicious wild nettle pesto with the tips of the spring shoots. A word of warning though – don’t pick nettle leaves after they have started flowering – usually around late May. Once nettles start flowering, a chemical in the leaves can upset your urinary tract.  Consider nettles a springtime treat, and for the rest of the year leave them for wildlife to enjoy.

Sorrel As A Beneficial Weed

Sorrel plant

You might class sorrel as an annoyance that pops up on your lawn, but it’s actually a pretty beneficial weed to have in your garden.

Sorrel is beloved by slugs, snails and aphids, and some species of butterfly and moth larvae also feed on the leaves too. This in turn attracts other wildlife, which then eat these creatures.

Companion Planting With Sorrel

Sorrel also makes a great companion plant when growing strawberries, cabbages or tomatoes. This simple but clever technique works by creating a diversion and drawing pests away from the main fruit and vegetable plants you are trying to protect.

Eating Sorrel

Most types of sorrel are also edible. Young sorrel leaves can be used as a herb, or as a salad leaf. Sorrel has a very fresh and zingy flavour, that is reminiscent of that of the zest of a lemon. This flavour really lifts a dish naturally. Because of this, sorrel has become one of my favourite things to grow in my garden. Eat the leaves when they are young though – I find that the larger they get, the leaves take on more of a woody texture which isn’t so tasty.

With so many beneficial properties, I promise, you’ll soon view sorrel as a plant, rather than a weed.

Dandelions

Dandelions - beneficial weeds you want in your garden.

Dandelions have long been a scourge of gardeners. Those long taproots that are difficult to remove from the ground mean that dandelions just keep popping up when you don’t want them. However, dandelions do make for an incredibly beneficial weed.

Dandelions provide food to many different pollinators. This includes bumblebees, solitary bees, hoverflies, butterflies and some species of moths and beetles. As one of the first plants to flower in spring, and the last to flower in autumn, dandelions are incredibly important to our pollinators. They are particularly important in early spring when some of these species emerge hungry from hibernation.

Other species in turn eat these insects, whilst later on in the year, birds such as goldfinches and house sparrows munch the dandelion seeds.

Companion Planting With Dandelions

Whilst you may think you don’t want dandelions growing in your vegetable garden, then I encourage you to think again. Far from being just weeds, dandelions make a fantastic beneficial companion plant to have in your garden.

As well as attracting pollinating insects to your vegetable patch, the dandelion’s long taproots help to break apart hard soils. These roots are also said to bring up nutrients from deep down in the soil to the surface. This helps to nourish other plants growing in close proximity.

Interestingly, dandelions also release ethylene gas. If grown near fruit or tomatoes, this gas that they give off can help speed up the ripening process.

Eating Dandelions

It’s a little know fact that dandelions are edible. The petals can be eaten raw in salads, or you can boil them in sugar to make dandelion syrup – also known as vegan honey. The leaves again can be eaten raw in salads or boiled to be eaten as a substitute for spinach. Some people even bake the roots and ground that down to use as a coffee substitute.

Wild Carrot As A Beneficial Weed

wild carrot plant

Whilst wild carrot has historically been classed as a weed, this beautiful plant is beneficial to a host of insects, such as bees, beetles and hoverflies. Its ferny foliage and white flowers mean it looks great growing in your garden borders too.

Companion Planting With Wild Carrot

Planting wild carrots helps to attract hoverflies to your garden. Hoverflies are a great garden guest to have, as they eat the aphids that like to feast on your prize vegetables. Hoverflies have short tongues so they need accessible flowers where they can drink nectar. Wild carrot is an accessible flower for hoverflies, so you can naturally reduce your aphid populations without resorting to pesticides.

Eating Wild Carrot

Whilst the young roots of wild carrots are edible, as well as the flowers, I prefer to give them a wide berth. This is because wild carrot is very similar in appearance to other members of the same family, such as the highly poisonous hemlock plant and the poisonous hemlock water-dropwort plant. Personally, I would reserve wild carrot as a beneficial weed for the wildlife to enjoy.

So let’s put down the weedkiller, put down that spade, and embrace the weeds to make your garden an insect and animal friendly oasis. Of course, you don’t have to turn your whole garden over to weeds – simply allowing one small patch or a couple of tubs to grow wild can make a huge difference to our native wildlife. If you are worried about being overrun by dandelions, simply cut the flower heads off before they go to seed.