My household cleaning habits are, shall we say, of an infrequent nature. So even though I’m all for eco-friendly cleaning products, I’ve always assumed that I needed the harsh stuff to tackle the kind of grime that can accumulate after weeks (OK, months) on end without routine scrubbing. But when I finally tried a few green cleaners, I was pleasantly surprised at how effective they were at doing my dirty work. Here’s what I found.

Whole Foods 365 All-Purpose Cleaner

$2.99, 32 oz.

This plant-based cleaner from Whole Foods’ house label has a light, citrus scent and no artificial dyes. It vanquished a sticky layer of scum that had accumulated on the seldom-cleaned area atop my fridge. At three bucks a bottle, it’s one of the best deals in the bunch.

Method All Purpose Surface Cleaner

$4, 28 oz.

With its technicolor hue, nontoxic, biodegradable formula, and Karim Rashid-designed bottle, Method’s cleaner should appeal to greenies and design geeks alike. The spray eliminated the ring around my tub; the cucumber scent was pleasant, though a little strong.

Shaklee Basic H2 Organic Super Cleaning Concentrate

$11.95, 16 oz.

The cool graphics on the bottle drew me to this concentrate. One bottle is supposed to make 48 gallons of the lightly-scented cleaner, which means it’s a bargain, but I recommend doubling the concentrate, otherwise it’s a little weak.

Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Countertop Spray

$4.99, 16 oz.

Mrs. Meyer’s biodegradable cleaner smells great — it’s really effective, too. A few squirts were enough to take care of the grease on my stovetop after a messy stir-frying incident. The fresh geranium scent also helped kill lingering cooking odors.

Seventh Generation Free & Clear Natural All Purpose Cleaner

$5.39, 32 oz.

Those with sensitive noses will love the Free & Clear line, which eschews all fragrance and dyes. This all-purpose cleaner is a workhorse, too. Crusted spaghetti sauce inside the microwave? Gone. Unidentifiable sticky substance on the counter? Buh-bye.

Story by Sarah Schmidt. This article originally appeared in Plenty in December 2006. This story was added to in June 2009.

Copyright Environ Press 2006.

Dirty work
Green cleaners do have the harsh stuff to tackle the kind of grime that can accumulate after weeks.