Green cleaning products are easier on the planet than conventional cleansers, it's true. But it's also true that eco-friendly cleaners aren't always as easy on your wallet. And as an article in Friday's New York Times points out, cost-conscious consumers are buying fewer green housekeeping products -- such as laundry detergent, dish soap and all-purpose cleaners -- as the nation's economy continues to sputter along.
Can you choose eco-friendly cleaners and still keep an eye on the family budget? You bet. You're already doing it. By reading ConsumerSearch and becoming a better-informed consumer, you can maximize your money and feel good about your choice of cleaning products. ConsumerSearch reviews a number of green cleaners and other products that will help you go green (and stay that way). Read on for a selection of reviews and recommendations.
Green all-purpose cleaners
Green all-purpose cleaners are handy because they can be used just about anywhere, on anything. You can whip up a batch of homemade kitchen cleaner (using vinegar, for example) for far less than any store-bought cleaner, green or otherwise. But if you crave convenience and want the best clean, reviewers say Seventh Generation All-Purpose Cleaner is one good choice. Our blog post on green all-purpose cleaners discusses this product and other well-reviewed cleaning products.
Green toilet bowl cleaner
Of course, there are a few places where an all-purpose cleaner may not be the best choice for the job. The toilet bowl is one such place, and we discuss green toilet bowl cleaners in a separate blog post. As we note, you don't really NEED to buy a toilet bowl cleaner -- white vinegar will work. That said, Clorox Green Works Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner is our pick among many worthy green cleaners, based on user feedback.
Green dishwasher soap
The dishwasher also calls for specialized soap, and we recommend a couple of eco-friendly dishwasher detergents in our report. Method Smarty Dish Detergent tablets and Biokleen Automatic Dish Powder both get good reviews, but from a cost perspective, Biokleen is the better buy. It costs half as much as Method on a per-load basis -- and it's cheaper than another Best Reviewed pick, Cascade Complete All-in-1 ActionPacs.
Green laundry soap
Not everyone needs to buy dishwasher detergent, but just about everyone has to buy laundry detergent (at least, those of us who do our own laundry). There are a number of eco-friendly laundry soaps available, as we discuss in our report, and two rise to the top: Seventh Generation Natural 2X Concentrated Liquid Detergent and Country Save Laundry Detergent Powder. At just 19 cents per load, Country Save is the more frugal choice, but it's not easy to find in stores. If convenience trumps cost, Seventh Generation is the better choice, and it's comparably priced to our top Best Reviewed choice, Tide HE With Bleach Alternative Liquid Laundry Detergent.
Green fabric softener
Technically, fabric softener isn't a cleaner, nor is it a necessity in the way laundry detergent is. But the two go together like peas and carrots for many folks, and reviews recommend a couple of eco-friendly fabric softeners in our report. Our two Best Reviewed green choices -- Method Squeaky Green Dryer Cloths - Free & Clear and Seventh Generation Free & Clear Natural Fabric Softener -- are each good for 40 loads. They're not cost-competitive with the conventional fabric softeners we recommend, but on a per-load basis, the Method dryer sheets are less expensive than Seventh Generation, and some users say they can be reused, further cutting costs.