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.