If you’ve decided to start green cleaning but don’t know which eco-friendly products to use, we’re here to help. Green cleaning is the process of tidying up using methods, products, and solutions that reduce the introduction of harmful chemicals into the environment and your home. Greener cleaning products are made from chemical ingredients that don't typically irritate your skin, damage clothing, or pollute the air and waterways.
Selecting a quality green cleaner can be challenging due to "greenwashing," a form of misleading marketing that insinuates a product is 100 percent eco-friendly when it's not. For example, a product’s label may say it's made from recycled materials or have energy-saving benefits, but these claims may be exaggerated.
“Look for products by companies that fully disclose all of their [product’s] ingredients on the label, not just on their website," advises Sydney Swanson, healthy living science analyst for the Environmental Working Group. The EWG is an independent, non-profit organization that rates and shares data about green cleaning products in a searchable database. The United States Environmental Protection Agency also has a search option for Safer Choice-certified products that includes options the government agency has tested.
In addition to carefully reviewing a green cleaning product's ingredient list, you can consider factors like the amount and type of packaging used and its potential impacts on the environment. If all of this sounds like a lot of work, don't worry. We tested and researched the best green cleaning products in a range of categories to help you find the perfect item for all of your cleaning needs.
Below, the best green cleaning products for a clean and happy eco-friendly home.
Best Laundry Detergent: Puracy Natural Laundry Detergent
Less packaging than other liquid laundry detergents
Not as effective in hard water
Limited retailer availability
Puracy Natural Laundry Detergent is our top pick for a laundry detergent because it’s safe for sensitive skin, free from harmful chemicals, and has minimal packaging. Plus, it’s dermatologist-tested. Since the personal care product industry isn’t regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, expert testing on products is essential.
This detergent’s cleaning power comes from naturally occurring stain- and odor-removing enzymes rather than petrochemicals, sulfates, caustics, phosphates, dyes, or chlorine. Unlike chemical-based acidic and alkaline cleaners, enzyme-based cleaners target specific biological stains such as pet urine, food residue, and stained fabrics. They also tend to have fewer health and environmental side effects.
Puracy wins when it comes to packaging, too. The 64-ounce foil refill means there is less plastic packaging finding its way to landfills and waterways. Some reviewers note that the detergent didn’t work well in homes with hard water. It’s also not readily available in stores, so it can be somewhat hard to find.
Best Dryer Balls: Smart Sheep Wool Dryer Balls
Ethical production practices
Higher price point
Made from an animal source
Switching from single-use dryer sheets to multi-use wool dryer balls is an environmentally responsible choice. These New Zealand wool dryer balls are reusable and promise to help tumble over 1,000 loads of laundry. They work their softening magic by bouncing off clothes in your dryer so that the clothes stay separated and air flows more freely. This makes for softer clothes, and it’s a more efficient way of drying. Shortened drying times reduce energy use and save you money. Wool dryer balls are also chemical-free, making them a smart choice for those with sensitive skin and allergies.
Smart Sheep wool dryer balls are more expensive than some of their competitors, but we like that the company uses high-quality, humanely sourced wool. The dryer balls are also felted in Nepal by workers paid a living wage.
Best Stain Remover: Meliora Laundry Stain Removal Soap Stick
Most effective when used immediately
Some users found it difficult to use
Sometimes life is messy. When it is, it's helpful to have a stain remover on hand, like Meliora’s simple soap stick. It’s made from an organic coconut-sunflower oil blend. Plus, it's portable, so you can easily keep it in a diaper bag or backpack to quickly treat stains before they set in. To use, wet the affected fabric, rub the stain with Meliora Soap Stick, and toss the item in the wash. It works best when used immediately.
Meliora Soap Stick for Laundry Stain Removal is Made Safe certified, meaning it's free from ingredients considered hazardous to people and the planet. It earned an A rating from the EWG, as well. It's not tested on animals and is certified cruelty-free by the Leaping Bunny Program. Finally, Meliora is a certified B Corp that adheres to transparent environmental and labor standards. They also pledge 2 percent of company sales to environmental causes through the 1% for the Planet program.
Best Dish Soap: Puracy Natural Dish Soap
Washes 160 sinks full of dirty dishes
Safe for graywater and septic systems
Comes with an option to reduce packaging
Limited retailer availability
Contains some ingredients of concern
Puracy Natural Dish Soap won our top dish soap spot because it's an affordable, chemical-free option. The vegan coconut-based formula earned an EWG A rating. Puracy contains zero parabens, sulfates, triclosan, phosphates, SLS, SLES, MEA, DEA, TEA, petrochemicals, or dyes. It does still contain some chemicals of concern such as benzisothiazolinone, which can harm aquatic life and result in skin irritation in some individuals.
This formula is safe for graywater and septic systems. You can use it to wash ceramic, crystal, glass, plastic, baby bottles, porcelain, metals, jewelry, patio furniture, toys, rubber, pet dishes and toys, and any surface that's safe for premium soap. The company says each 16-ounce bottle can tackle 160 sinks full of dishes. Choosing the 64-ounce refillable pouch over a plastic bottle reduces your environmental footprint and washes 600 sinks of dishes.
Best Dish Scrubber: Etee Loofie Scrubber
Easily cleaned in a dishwasher or microwave
Higher price point
Must be replaced every three to five weeks
Thanks to Etee Loofie Scrubber, washing dishes or cleaning other surfaces around the house is less abrasive on the environment. This scrubber is made without microplastics that can end up in water supplies and become ingested by humans and other animals.
This scrubber has a rough side composed of loofah plant material for scrubbing—not scratching—and the soft side is made of a spongy cellulose-cotton and wood cellulose dishcloth. They’re stitched together with eco-friendly, biodegradable cotton thread.
These scrubber sponges are easily cleaned on the top rack of a dishwasher or popped into the microwave for a few seconds. You can also just rinse after each use and wring dry. Each sponge lasts three to five weeks. When it’s time to replace your Loofie Scrubber, compost it or bury it in your garden where it will decompose.
Best All-Purpose Cleaner: Dr. Bronner's Pure Castile Soap
Versatile cleaning power
Organic and fair-trade ingredients
May not be as effective in cold water
Can leave cloudy residue when used with hard water
An all-purpose cleaner is a must-have for the home. Pure castile soap is a safe, eco-friendly solution that can clean just about anything. Use it as laundry detergent, floor cleaner, bug repellent, dishwashing soap, and even as a vegetable wash. Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap is three times more concentrated than most liquid soaps so it’s an affordable, long-lasting option. Some reviewers, however, note that it can cloud and be less effective when used in cold water. It can also leave a residue on shiny or hard surfaces when used in hard water.
Made from 90 percent organic ingredients and 70 percent fair trade ingredients, Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap is great for people and the planet. It comes in fragrance-free and scented options. It’s biodegradable and also makes an excellent choice for taking along on camping trips to wash up trailside.
Best Toilet Cleaner: ECOS Toilet Cleaner
Safe for septic and graywater systems
Cedar smell may be strong for those with allergies
Powered by naturally anti-fungal cedar oil and citric acid, ECOS is tough on toilets, eliminates hard water stains, and fights germs and bacteria. Meanwhile, it’s easy on graywater and septic systems. The biodegradable formula is also a more sustainable choice for you and the environment.
While the cedar smell may be irritating to those with aroma sensitivities, there are no parabens, phosphates, chlorine bleach, fillers, or stabilizers in the ingredient list and it was awarded an A rating from the EWG. ECOS toilet cleaner also earned a SaferChoice certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Best for Bathrooms: Meliora Cleaning Products Gentle Home Cleaning Scrub
May scratch finish
May clump and leave a residue
Meliora’s cleaning scrub is plastic-free, dye-free, preservative-free, palm-oil-free, and cruelty-free. The powder also comes in an adorable recyclable can, which is a nice touch. It’s septic-safe and biodegradable, making it an excellent choice to use in the bathroom. Use it to clean tubs, ceramic tile, stainless steel, and more. Always do a spot test to make sure it doesn’t scratch the surface you’re planning to clean. Some customers noted that the powder can clump, making it hard to rinse off.
Meliora Cleaning Products' home cleaning and laundry products get top A ratings from the EWG and are Made Safe certified. The company is committed to transparency and lists every ingredient on their products. The Gentle Home Cleaning Scrub in Peppermint Tea Tree, for example, contains only sodium bicarbonate, vegetable soap, organic peppermint oil, and organic tea tree oil.
Best for Glass: Aunt Fannie's Glass & Window Vinegar Wash
Higher price point
Vinegar has long been used to clean windows because its acidic composition quickly breaks down grime without streaking. If you don’t want to make your own window cleaner, consider Aunt Fannie’s Glass and Window Vinegar Wash, a new-school recipe using plant-based ingredients and essential oils. There are no dyes, petroleum, sulfates, phthalates, or parabens found here. But while vinegar is a powerful cleaning agent, it can leave a slight vinegar smell.
The cruelty-free, pet- and people-friendly formula cuts through smudges and pet slobber quickly. Spray it on, let it sit for a few moments, and wipe it away for sparkling windows, mirrors, and sink faucets. Aunt Fannie’s Glass and Window Vinegar wash is made in the USA and has been awarded the highest safety rating for cleaning products by the EWG.
Best Paper Towels: Seventh Generation 100% Recycled Paper Towels (Unbleached)
Made from recycled material
Ink-, dye-, and fragrance-free
Each roll or package is wrapped in single-use plastic
Seventh Generation Unbleached Recycled Paper Towels are a top choice for those moments when you need a single-use option for home cleaning. These two-ply paper towels absorb spills as effectively as non-recycled paper towels. They also minimize your environmental impact by keeping trees in the forest. However, they are wrapped in single-use plastic before they hit store shelves, so that’s something to consider.
These paper towels are composed of 100 percent recycled paper (80 percent post-consumer content, 20 percent pre-consumer content). Additionally, they’re free from dyes, inks, or fragrances, so they’re easy on your skin and eyes. While they are a single-use product, you can toss them into your compost bin after you’ve cleaned up your mess so that they can be sent back into the environment.
Best Set: Blueland Clean Essentials Kit
Kit comes with multiple cleaners
Have to wait for tablets to dissolve to start cleaning
May not need all four products
A kit is an easy way to introduce your household to greener cleaning. This essential cleaning set from Blueland includes a multi-surface cleaner, bathroom cleaner, and glass and mirror cleaner, as well as hand soap. This kit comes with three reusable Forever Bottles and three plastic-free refill tablets. Simply fill the bottle with warm water, drop in a tablet, and once it’s dissolved, screw on the pump and spray.
Our product tester, Danielle Directo-Meston, noted that while it took about 10 minutes for the tablets to dissolve in the cleaning bottles, the hand soap tablet took closer to 20 minutes to dissolve fully.
Blueland’s high-quality reusable bottles help you reduce your carbon footprint. The products also help you reduce your chemical exposure. They’re made without parabens, phosphates, ammonia, VOCs, chlorine bleach, or phthalates. They’re sourced from vegan ingredients that are gluten-, soy-, and nut-free.
Best for Floors: AspenClean Natural Floor Cleaner Concentrate
Not suitable for unfinished, unsealed, or waxed floors
Best used with a microfiber mop
Whether you have wood, stone, or laminate flooring, Aspen Clean’s concentrated floor cleaner will make it shine. However, it’s not suitable for unfinished, unsealed, or waxed floors, and it works best when combined with the company’s microfiber cloth mop.
You won’t find any phosphates, parabens, petroleum, sulfates, or synthetic fragrances on the ingredient list of this EWG-verified floor cleaner. This cleaner offers an excellent value since the concentrated formula equals 18 bottles of the brand's Natural Floor Cleaner. To use, add two tablespoons into an AspenClean 22-ounce bottle and dilute with water. Use within 24 hours.
Best Cleaning Wipes: Aunt Fannie's Vinegar Cleaning Wipes
May have a vinegar scent
Sometimes you need to clean up in a hurry or on the go but still want to be eco-conscious. Enter Aunt Fannie’s Vinegar Cleaning wipes. These multi-surface vinegar cleaning wipes change grime into shine in the kitchen, bathroom, or hotel room. They’re also safe on food contact surfaces such as countertops, fridges, and high chair trays. Despite being a single-use item, each wipe will biodegrade under normal municipal conditions.
Since they’re scented with 100 percent essential oils, you’ll find no chemical odor here. However, some users were unhappy with the lingering vinegar scent. The wipes earned an EWG A rating, despite some of the ingredients posing some potential skin and allergy issues.
When it comes to laundry and dish soap, it’s hard to beat Puracy’s Natural Laundry Soap and Green Tea and Lime Dish Soap. They are gentle yet effective, reasonably priced, and come in minimal packaging. For on-the-go green cleaning, Meloria’s Stain Stick is an excellent, effective, and portable option.
What to Look for in a Green Cleaning Product
A multi-purpose cleaner will be effective at cleaning a range of areas, from bathtubs to countertops. At the same time, other products may only clean specific items such as glass or ovens. When you’re searching for green cleaning products, choose products that are versatile so you can reduce your overall product count. Check the labels carefully for an effective ingredient list and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for using the cleaner.
Ingredients and certifications
If you don’t feel like researching ingredient lists, don’t worry, all the information you need has already been compiled. Utilize the EWG database or the Healthy Living app to make informed choices when purchasing green cleaning products. Other resources include Made Safe, a program of the nonprofit Nontoxic Certified. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Safer Choice program federally certifies products that use safe ingredients. Their information is shared in an online database. If your product-in-question is on one or more of these lists, you can use it with confidence.
Green cleaning options come in many forms. Those in liquid or powder form tend to be an excellent value because you can use less of the product each time you’re cleaning. Since you’re likely looking to generate less packaging, opt for products that come in large amounts rather than individual, single-use products.
Reduce your environmental impact by avoiding plastic packaging, and choose products in compostable, biodegradable, reusable, or recyclable packaging when possible. Some companies even allow refills if you send in the bottles.
The term "fragrance" on a product's label is a fancy way of saying "hidden chemicals," says Swanson. She notes that fragrances commonly contain chemicals that help the scents last longer. Chemicals can also be used to mask scents and make it seem like a product is fragrance-free. These chemicals, known as phthalates, have been linked to a plethora of health problems, so it’s best to steer clear.
Why should you use natural cleaning products?
Natural cleaning products often use less packaging and contain fewer harsh chemicals than traditional cleaners. They tend to be safer for you and have less of an environmental impact than chemical-based products. However, if you have allergies or chemical sensitivities, double-check the ingredient labels to ensure the product is free of any potential irritants. To reduce your environmental impact, purchase your cleaning products in non-plastic, compostable, or reusable or recyclable packaging.
Do green cleaning products work?
There are many effective naturally derived cleaners. “Green cleaners and detergents have demonstrated over and over to work just as effectively as their conventional counterparts," says Swanson. They also work well in cold water, which reduces energy consumption, so you can save money while you reduce your environmental impact.
How can you make your own green cleaning products?
Making your own eco-friendly products can be a great way to introduce green cleaning into your home. Lemon juice and vinegar, for example, can be combined to create an excellent degreaser. Check out our guide on how to make effective homemade cleaners. You can also find recipes in the EWG’s DIY Cleaning Guide.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Heidi Wachter, a freelance writer and climate journalist wrote this article. She has firsthand experience testing all kinds of eco-friendly cleaners, including several options featured on this list. For this roundup, she scoured product reviews; interviewed Sydney Swanson, EWG healthy living science analyst; and read advice from medical professionals such as dermatologists. She prioritized options that were affordable, effective, and well-rated by environmental product rating databases.