Green all-purpose cleaners lose out to a veteran

Green Cleaners Test

Can one household cleaner vanquish tough kitchen stains such as grease and grape juice; soap scum and other bathroom scourges; and stubborn mineral deposits left by hard water?

To find out, we applied those and other common stains to tiles; sprayed or wiped on 19 all-purpose cleaners, and inserted the tiles into our special scrubbing apparatus. In our tough tests, only Pine-Sol Original cleaned well enough to be recommended, earning high marks on all stains. It did so without streaking, and at 9 cents per ounce is a CR Best Buy.

MORE AT COnsumer Reports

All-purpose cleaners are typically used to clean such household surfaces as kitchen counters and bathroom tiles. In our labs we pit them against four soil types—grease, grape juice, ketchup and mustard that we spread on glass, ceramic and metal tiles. Then it's on to the soap scum test.

Finally, we see if the cleaners leave streaks behind. Only the Pine-Sol aced that test. It was also very good at removing stains and soap scum and was the only cleaner to make our list of top-picks.

Green Works Cleaner Two green cleaners topped our list of sprays but neither were good enough to be recommended. Seventh Generation Natural All-Purpose Cleaner was very good at removing soap scum but needed extra elbow grease to remove the food and was only so-so on the streaking test.

Green Works All-Purpose Cleaner performed similarly but didn’t do quite as well on the soap scum test. Another green cleaner landed near the bottom of the rankings despite its upbeat name.

Whip-It Earth Friendly Miracle Cleaner Multi-Purpose had trouble removing both soap scum and food soil and left streaks behind as well.

(See also: Best stain removing products and cleaning tips)

Keep in mind that not all green claims are meaningful. Here's what our experts say about the claims you'll see in the cleaning supplies aisle.



Claim. USDA Organic.
Definition. At least 95 percent of ingredients must be plant-based.
Brand. Green Mission.
Our take. Meaningful.

Claim. Leaping Bunny
Definition. Company pledges that no animal testing was used in developing the product.
Brand. Seventh Generation.
Our take. Meaningful.

Claim. EPA's Design for the Environment (DfE).
Definition. Product uses ingredients deemed "safest in class" by government.
Brand. Green Works.
Our take. Meaningful.

Claim. Natural.
Definition. Implies no added synthetic ingredients. But no standard exists, and even truly all-natural products aren't necessarily safer than synthetic ones.
Brands. Method, Seventh Generation, Trader Joe's, Whip-It.
Our take. Not meaningful. Look for more specific claims.

Claim. Earth-friendly or Ecological.
Definition. Implies no harm to the environment. But no standard exists, and the Federal Trade Commission cautions against use of the term.
Brands. Ecover, Whip-It.
Our take. Not meaningful.

Claim. Nontoxic.
Definition. Implies no harm to health. But no standard exists.
Brands. Green Mission, Method, Seventh Generation, Whip-It.
Our take. Not meaningful.




Copyright © 2006-2012 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission.

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