The 13 Best Organic and Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products of 2020
By Sara Lindberg
There have never been more choices when it comes to organic, natural, or eco-friendly cleaning products. Knowing which products are certified organic and which ones are just a safer alternative to traditional cleaners is often confusing. And how do you know which ones can really get the job done?
That's where we come in. To help you choose the safest and most effective nontoxic cleaning products, we've put together recommendations of 13 products that fit the bill.
Because the market for USDA certified organic cleaning products is relatively small and some options can be on the pricier side, we've also included a few noncertified safer alternatives worthy of consideration.
How We Chose
To curate our list of top-rated cleaning products, we considered many criteria. Some key elements include:
- The types of ingredients in a product. We took a careful look at the ingredients used in each product to make sure they were safe, nontoxic, and naturally derived. We avoided products with ingredients that have the potential to negatively impact the health of your family or the environment.
- Top choices from reputable environmental organizations. Groups like the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) publish annual reports on organic and natural cleaning products with rankings from best to worst. We also considered cleaners certified with the Green Seal, which are greener and healthier products.
- A product's cleaning ability. The best organic cleaning products don't only need to be safer and less toxic to use. They also need to do a great job at cleaning. We considered how effectively different products cut through dirt, grease, soap scum, or grime.
- The opinion of cleaning experts. We spoke to cleaning experts who regularly use organic and all-natural products. We asked for their input on what ingredients to look for — and avoid — and which products they recommend.
- Awards, user reviews, and customer feedback. We considered feedback from websites that sell organic products and only considered products that had significantly more raves than complaints.
About Organic Products
"There are many cleaning products on the market that claim to be organic, but very few have the USDA certified organic label," says James Scott, co- founder of Dappir, a commercial and residential cleaning company.
"Usually, you'll see [labels] like natural, all-natural, or plant-based, but these do not necessarily mean organic," he explains.
While many of these cleaners are excellent options and are a lot safer than chemical-laden cleaning products, if they don't carry the USDA organic label, they can't be considered a certified organic cleaner.
If a product isn't USDA certified organic, we have called that out in our list.
A Word About Price
Organic cleaners often cost more than nonorganic products. Also, within the organic cleaning category, it's not uncommon to see a wide range of prices. With that in mind, here's how we indicate cost:
- $ = under $10
- $$ = $10–$20
- $$$ = over $20
Best All-Purpose Cleaners
Greenerways Organic All-Purpose Cleaner
- Price: $
- Key features: Greenerways Organic All-Purpose Cleaner is an excellent all-around, USDA certified organic cleaner you can use in your kitchen, bathroom, and any other place that needs a good scrub. It has the ability to cut through dirt, soap scum, and grease on many surfaces. It's quick-drying, doesn't leave a sticky residue, and is non-GMO verified.
- Considerations: This product has a strong scent, and the spray bottle can be prone to malfunctioning.
FIT Organic Cleaner and Degreaser
- Price: $
- Key features: Made with organic plant oils — including sunflower oil and grapefruit oil — this affordable, all-natural, multi-surface cleaner is a USDA certified organic product. It contains no GMOs and comes in a concentrated formula that makes up to 4 gallons of cleaning solution.
- Considerations: It doesn't have a scent, and some users have found the spray mechanism breaks easily.
Go by Greenshield Organic Multi-Surface Cleaner
- Price: $
- Key features: Recommended for stainless steel, sealed countertops, tile, as well as painted or plastic surfaces, Go by Greenshield Organic gets the job done at an affordable price. Fragranced with essential oils, this USDA certified organic cleaning formula is also available in multi-surface wipes.
- Considerations: Some users report a strong, sometimes strange, scent after spraying.
Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds Biodegradable Cleaner
- Price: $
- Key features: "Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds is a top multi-purpose cleaner pick for customers," says Diana Rodriguez-Zaba, president of ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba, an IICRC certified cleaning company. Free of synthetic dyes and preservatives, it works especially well as a hard-surface all-purpose cleaner and comes in a concentrated solution so you can dilute it for your needs.
- Considerations: While not certified organic, this product is certified "green" and earned an "A" rating from the EWG.
Best Pet Stain and Odor Remover
FIT Organic Pet Stain & Odor Remover
- Price: $
- Key features: For pet stains and odors, Matt Clayton, founder of PetHairPatrol.com, recommends FIT Pet Stain & Odor Remover. "It's USDA certified organic and totally safe for your pets," he says. The product contains no artificial perfumes, GMOs, enzymes, dyes, or phosphates. Just spray the stain remover on the stained area and blot with a dry paper towel until the stain is lifted.
- Considerations: This product works best on fresh accidents and stains. It's also a more expensive option than many other pet stain removers.
Best Dish Soaps
Better Life Grease-Kicking Dish Soap
- Price: $
- Key features: Better Life Grease-Kicking dish soap has the ability to cut through grease well while still being gentle on your body and the environment. This affordable product is free of sulfates and contains vitamin E and aloe to help protect your skin.
- Considerations: While not certified organic, this all-natural product did earn an "A" rating from the EWG. This means it has few or no known health or environmental hazards, and the company has good ingredient disclosures.
Eco-Me Dish Soap
- Price: $
- Key features: Eco-Me Dish Soap is a plant-based natural dish soap that's free of sulfates, perfumes, and harsh preservatives. Gentle on your hands, this soap is safe to use on all dishes, baby bottles, glasses, and silverware.
- Considerations: This product isn't USDA certified organic, but is rated as a greener, healthier dish soap option on the Green Seal website.
Best Glass and Window Cleaners
Go by Greenshield Organic Glass Cleaner
- Price: $
- Key features: Unlike other glass cleaners that contain multiple ingredients, Go by Greenshield only has four ingredients: water, acetic acid (organic), ethyl alcohol (organic), and organic fragrance. The spray has a mild fragrance that comes from organic fresh mint. It's USDA certified organic and is safe to use around pets and children.
- Considerations: You may need to clean glass a few times to eliminate streaks.
ECOS Window Cleaner
- Price: $
- Key features: This affordable, vinegar-based window cleaner does a great job on glass as well as on stainless steel, chrome, vinyl, and linoleum. ECOS Window Cleaner is 100-percent natural, plant-based, and is free of ammonia, phosphates, chlorine, dyes, and petroleum ingredients.
- Considerations: It has a slight vinegar scent and isn't USDA certified organic.
Better Life Tub and Tile Cleaner
- Price: $
- Key features: Better Life Tub and Tile Cleaner is an affordable plant-based foaming cleaner and a favorite among those who prefer natural, greener cleaning products. It effectively dissolves hard water stains, soap scum, and rust on a variety of bathroom surfaces, including tile, grout, porcelain, and fixtures.
- Considerations: It's not USDA certified organic and some people find the scent a little strong. It can't be used on marble.
Go by Greenshield Organic Toilet Bowl Cleaner
- Price: $
- Key features: Go by Greenshield Organic Toilet Bowl Cleaner is a favorite among organic cleaning experts. Free of harsh chemicals like bleach and phosphates, this pine-scented toilet bowl cleaner is effective at removing limescale and mineral deposits. It's also USDA certified organic and is septic tank safe.
- Considerations: It has a strong smell and may need a few extra scrubs to get the toilet clean.
Best Floor Cleaner
Better Life Naturally Dirt-Destroying Floor Cleaner
- Price: $
- Key features: Better Life Naturally Dirt-Destroying Floor Cleaner is a plant-derived floor cleaner that's safe to use on hardwood, tile, marble, vinyl, laminate, and bamboo surfaces. The cleaner comes ready-to-use and has a pleasant minty-citrus scent. This formula is free of sodium lauryl sulfates, petroleum solvents, parabens, synthetic fragrances, and dyes.
- Considerations: It's not USDA certified organic and can be sudsy if you use too much of the product on the floor.
Best Carpet Stain Remover
FIT Organic Laundry and Carpet Stain Remover
- Price: $
- Key features: The FIT Organic Laundry and Carpet Cleaner has the ability to effectively remove stains from carpets, curtains, and upholstery, and can also tackle stains on your clothes. It's USDA certified organic and is free of phosphates, dyes, artificial perfumes, and GMOs.
- Considerations: This product isn't meant for full carpet cleaning and works best in small areas.
What to Look for When Choosing an Organic Product
To choose the right organic cleaner for your needs, you'll want to consider factors such as ingredients, cost, how the products are tested, and consumer reviews.
"You'll want to choose a reputable brand that contains safe ingredients across the board," says Rodriguez-Zaba.
Before choosing a natural or organic cleaning product, be sure to carefully review the ingredients label. To find the safest, most natural products, cleaning experts recommend staying clear of the following types of ingredients:
- petroleum solvents
- butyl glycol
- ethylene glycol
- alkylphenol surfactants
- synthetic fragrances
- synthetic dyes
- volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
With regards to product testing, look for products that are labeled as cruelty-free or not tested on animals.
If you're not sure where to start, consider cross-referencing the EWG Guide to Healthy Cleaning to see if a particular brand meets its guidelines. The EPA also keeps a list of products that are part of their Safer Choice standard.
Using organic or eco-friendly cleaning products that are safer for your home, children, and pets is just one small step you can take to protect the health of your family.
The key to finding the best organic or all-natural products is to experiment with a few different brands or formulas until you find the ones that work best for your needs.
Carefully read the ingredients label of any cleaning product to be sure they don't include toxic chemicals or harsh ingredients. When possible, opt for products that are USDA certified organic, or that use 100-percent natural or plant-based ingredients.
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By Joni Sweet
If you get a call from a number you don't recognize, don't hit decline — it might be a contact tracer calling to let you know that someone you've been near has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Interviews With Contact Tracers<p>Contact tracing is a public health strategy that involves identifying everyone who may have been in contact with a person who has the coronavirus. Contact tracers collect information and provide guidance to help contain the transmission of disease.</p><p>It's been used during outbreaks of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), Ebola, measles, and now the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.</p><p>It starts when the local department of health gets a report of a confirmed case of the coronavirus in its community and gives that person a call. The contact tracer usually provides information on how to isolate and when to get treatment, then tries to figure out who else the person may have exposed.</p><p>"We ask who they've been in contact with in the 48 hours prior to symptom onset, or 2 days before the date of their positive test if they don't have symptoms," said <a href="https://case.edu/medicine/healthintegration/people/heidi-gullett" target="_blank">Dr. Heidi Gullett</a>, associate director of the Center for Community Health Integration at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and medical director of the Cuyahoga County Board of Health in Ohio.</p>
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Why You Should Participate (and What Happens If You Don’t)<p>A <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(20)30457-6/fulltext" target="_blank">Lancet study</a> from June 16, which looked at data from more than 40,000 people, found that COVID-19 transmission could be reduced by 64 percent through isolating those who have the coronavirus, quarantining their household, and contacting the people they may have exposed.</p><p>The combination strategy was significantly more effective than mass random testing or just isolating the sick person and members of their household.</p><p>However, contact tracing is only as effective as people's willingness to participate, and a small number of people who've contracted the coronavirus or were potentially exposed are reluctant to talk.</p><p>"Contact tracers have all been hung up on, cussed at, yelled at," said Gullet.</p><p>The hesitation to talk to contact tracers often stems from concerns over privacy — a serious issue in healthcare.</p>
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By James Shulmeister
Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change.
If you have a question you'd like an expert to answer, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
What was the climate and sea level like at times in Earth’s history when carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was at 400ppm?<p>The last time global carbon dioxide levels were consistently at or above 400 parts per million (ppm) was around <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nature14145" target="_blank">four million years ago</a> during a geological period known as the <a href="http://www.geologypage.com/2014/05/pliocene-epoch.html" target="_blank">Pliocene Era</a> (between 5.3 million and 2.6 million years ago). The world was about 3℃ warmer and sea levels were higher than today.</p><p>We know how much carbon dioxide the atmosphere contained in the past by studying ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica. As compacted snow gradually changes to ice, it traps air in bubbles that contain <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/annals-of-glaciology/article/enclosure-of-air-during-metamorphosis-of-dry-firn-to-ice/09D9C60A8DA412D16645E6E6ABC1892F" target="_blank">samples of the atmosphere at the time</a>. We can sample ice cores to reconstruct past concentrations of carbon dioxide, but this record only takes us back about a million years.</p><p>Beyond a million years, we don't have any direct measurements of the composition of ancient atmospheres, but we can use several methods to estimate past levels of carbon dioxide. One method uses the relationship between plant pores, known as stomata, that regulate gas exchange in and out of the plant. The density of these stomata is <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/095968369200200109" target="_blank">related to atmospheric carbon dioxide</a>, and fossil plants are a good indicator of concentrations in the past.</p><p>Another technique is to examine sediment cores from the ocean floor. The sediments build up year after year as the bodies and shells of dead plankton and other organisms rain down on the seafloor. We can use isotopes (chemically identical atoms that differ only in atomic weight) of boron taken from the shells of the dead plankton to reconstruct changes in the acidity of seawater. From this we can work out the level of carbon dioxide in the ocean.</p><p>The data from four-million-year-old sediments suggest that <a href="https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2010PA002055" target="_blank">carbon dioxide was at 400ppm back then</a>.</p>
Sea Levels and Changes in Antarctica<p>During colder periods in Earth's history, ice caps and glaciers grow and sea levels drop. In the recent geological past, during the most recent ice age about 20,000 years ago, sea levels were at least <a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/292/5517/679.abstract" target="_blank">120 meters lower</a> than they are today.</p><p><span></span>Sea-level changes are calculated from changes in isotopes of oxygen in the shells of marine organisms. For the Pliocene Era, <a href="https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2004PA001071" target="_blank">research</a> shows the sea-level change between cooler and warmer periods was around 30-40 meters and sea level was higher than today. Also during the Pliocene, we know the West Antarctic Ice Sheet was <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nature07867" target="_blank">significantly smaller</a> and global average temperatures were about 3℃ warmer than today. Summer temperatures in high northern latitudes were up to 14℃ warmer.</p><p>This may seem like a lot but modern observations show strong <a href="https://journals.ametsoc.org/jcli/article/23/14/3888/32547" target="_blank">polar amplification</a> of warming: a 1℃ increase at the equator may raise temperatures at the poles by 6-7℃. It is one of the reasons why Arctic sea ice is disappearing.</p>
Impacts in New Zealand and Australia<p>In the Australian region, there was no Great Barrier Reef, but there may have been <a href="https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/BF02537376.pdf" target="_blank">smaller reefs along the northeast coast of Australia</a>. For New Zealand, the partial melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is probably the most critical point.</p><p>One of the key features of New Zealand's current climate is that Antarctica is cut off from global circulation during the winter because of the big <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3402/tellusa.v54i5.12161" target="_blank">temperature contrast</a> between Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. When it comes back into circulation in springtime, New Zealand gets strong storms. Stormier winters and significantly warmer summers were likely in the mid-Pliocene because of a weaker polar vortex and a warmer Antarctica.</p><p>It will take more than a few years or decades of carbon dioxide concentrations at 400ppm to trigger a significant shrinking of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. But recent studies show that <a href="http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/521027/" target="_blank">West Antarctica is already melting</a>.</p><p>Sea-level rise from a partial melting of West Antarctica could easily exceed a meter or more by 2100. In fact, if the whole of the West Antarctic melted it could <a href="http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.695.7239&rep=rep1&type=pdf" target="_blank">raise sea levels by about 3.5 meters</a>. Even smaller increases raise the risk of <a href="https://www.pce.parliament.nz/publications/preparing-new-zealand-for-rising-seas-certainty-and-uncertainty" target="_blank">flooding in low-lying cities</a> including Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington.</p>
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