Now that Memorial Day has passed and we’ve entered sprummer — the transitional, atmospherically confusing season where it’s not yet officially summer (we’ve got about three weeks to go) yet everyone has mentally entered vacation-mode — it’s dawned on me that I’ve neglected to post anything in a while that tackles one of my personal favorite springtime activities: eco-friendly cleaning.


To make up for this, here’s a look at a line of products worth complementing your homemade cleaning solutions with: iQ from People Planet. Like two exceptional laundry products that I've reviewed in recent months, Berry+ laundry soap and Seventh Generation 4X Laundry Detergent, the range of iQ cleaners — All-Purpose, Glass, Bathroom, and Floor — are made with nontoxic, plant-based ingredients. But that's not really the point here. Like the aforementioned laundry products, it’s the innovative, low-impact packaging that makes iQ — dubbed “The Smarter Cleaner” — so special. In fact, iQ’s packaging it so special that the product picked up honors of “Best Green Packaging” in the 2010 International Green Awards.


Here's how it works: iQ cleaners allow users to eliminate plastic waste by up to 80 percent when they purchase empty — you supply the water — reusable plastic spray bottles and small, recyclable iQ REFill (Reduced Environmental Footprint) cartridges filled with a super-concentrated, nontoxic cleaning solution. Just fill the bottle with tap water, insert the cartridge, and get cleaning. When it empties, simply buy a new cartridge instead of a new bottle. Writing for Co.Design, Sarah Rich describes the product as "like Kool-Aid for Cleaning."


Explains People Planet president Eric Green in a press release:


It takes an astounding gallon of crude oil to make just 29 bottles of household cleaner and even more to transport it across the country or continent. For a product that is 95 percent water, the costs to the environment — and to the consumer — just don’t add up.  We created iQ to combat the excessive waste and cost of traditional cleaners, designing something that is easy to use, easy on our planet and less expensive than conventional cleaners.
All sounds good although this isn’t the first just-add-concentrate-and-tap water cleaning product system that I've seen hit the market. Specifically, there’s the (discontinued?) Arm & Hammer Essentials Cleaner and Degreaser which I love and use all on my stovetop. Still, iQ is the first complete, multi-product line of eco-cleaners using cartridge technology that I’ve seen.

I recently had the chance to try out the iQ Glass, Bathroom, and All-Purpose cleaners. Filling the bottles and inserting the cartridges was an unmessy, user-friendly experience and the cleaners themselves smell pleasant enough — All-Purpose is “green tea,” Bathroom is “nectarine plum,” and Glass is “bamboo berry.” I gave two of the iQ cleaners a light test run and they seem to work just fine although I haven’t quite yet put them to the test against my arsenal of other natural cleaning products. According to iQ, in third-party testing, the cleaners performed as well or better than other leading brands in the eco-cleaning category. They’re also 100 percent performance guaranteed.


Last month, iQ cleaners became available nationwide at brick and mortar retailers such as Hannaford and online at and iQ Starter Kits that include the reusable spray bottle and a REFill cartridge cost $4.99. Individual replacement cartridges cost $1.99.


Think you'll give iQ cleaners a shot? To me, the price and the reduced environmental impact, specifically on the packaging front, seems just about right ... 

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

iQ: Eco-cleaners with added brainpower
Dubbed as 'The Smarter Cleaner,' iQ nontoxic household cleaning solutions help users cut back on excessive plastic packaging waste through innovative cartridge