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Ecological rating of home cleaning products

Published in October 2020.

What is this article about?

Find out the eco-friendliness of dozens of brands of kitchen cleaners, bathroom cleaners, limescale removers, toilet cleaners and all purpose cleaners. The rating includes sustainable palm oil policy, the presence of aquatoxic chemicals, the use of recycled packaging, and the company's overall environmental ethos.

This page is an annex to the article: Choosing healthy and eco-friendly personal care and home care products, where you will find our methodology to rate the eco-friendliness of home and personal care manufacturers, as well as a list of toxic chemicals often found in cleaning products.

Contents


How are products rated?

Brand Ethos includes the company's ecological values and its commitment to sustainability beyond other factors rated in other columns. Ecological brands that are carbon neutral (or even better carbon positive), have a reforestation programme, an efficient waste reduction system, or donate part of their profits to environmental charities (e.g. 1% for the Planet) obtained an A grade.

The company's palm oil policy is one of the most important factors in the global environmental impact. Vast palm plantations in Southeast Asia have caused untold ecological devastation, destroying the tropical rainforest and its biodiversity. According to ASAP 235 animal species are on the brink of extinction in Southeast Asia, including the Javan and Sumatran rhinos, the Sumatran tiger, and 80% of primates in the region, such as the Bornean Orangutan. This is why it can make a real difference to use products that do not contain palm oil derivatives (ideally) or at least choose sustainable palm oil. Companies can source their palm oil responsibly in part thanks to the criteria established by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). Companies that use unsustainable palm oil did not get a A rating even if all other categories were outstanding.

Aquatoxic substances were rated from A (safe) to G (most toxic). Only chemicals rated D and above are listed, as those from A to C are considered reasonably safe. Sodium Laureth Sulfate is abbreviated as SLES. Whenever the composition does not specify the type of surfactant, the rating is set as D as the most common anionic surfactant is SLES (D) and the most common amphoteric surfactants is Cocoamidopropyl Betaine (D).

The health hazard column consists mostly of allergens and skin irritants, although some of the most noxious chemicals have also been linked to general body toxicity, endocrine disruption and cancer. In addition to being an allergn, Butylphenyl Methylpropional (aka Lilial) is toxic, an endocrine disruptor with suspected of damaging fertility, and accumulates in the body over time. Bronopol and DMDM Hydantoin are both formaldehyde releasers with potential carcinogenic effects. They can cause respiratory irritation, asthma and allergic skin reaction.

Isothiazolinones are the most common allergens. They are also biocides and therefore toxic to the environment. The most aquatoxic are Benzisothiazolinone (BIT) and Octylisothiazolinone (OIT). They are listed only in that category to avoid listing it it in both columns. Methylchloroisothiazolinone (CMIT) and Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) are less toxic to water life but more allergenic and are consequently listed under health hazard. All four are listed by their acronyms. Alpha-isomethyl ionone is another allergn that is also toxic both to the enviornment and to human health, although less in known about it.

Ethanolamine (MEA), Diethanolamine (DEA) and Triethanolamine (TEA) are all respiratory and skin toxicants. The worst of the three is Diethanolamine, which may be carcinogenic and seems to interfere with brain development in foetuses and babies. It has already been banned from use in cosmetics in Canada and is restricted in the EU, but is still found in some cleaning sprays.


Ecological ratings of All Purpose Cleaners

Best value A-rated all purpose cleaner

Ecover (5L bottle)

Bio-D (5L bottle)

Sodasan (20L recharge)

Black Soap is one of the most versatile and most ecological way to clean one's house. It is made from linseed oil, potassium carbonate and glycerin, which are non-toxic for health and for the envrionment. It can also be made with olive oil.

Product Brand Ethos Recycled bottle Palm oil Aquatoxic substances Health hazard RATING
Dr Bronner's Pure Castile Liquid Soap A+ mostly organic - - A+
Ecodoo Multi-Purpose Cleaner
(Ekibio)
A+ 100% RSPO - - A+
Ecodoo Traditional Black Soap
(Ekibio)
A+ 100% 0% - - A+
Sodasan All Purpose Cleaner A+ 100% RSPO - - A+
Ecover Multi-Action Spray
(S.C. Johnson & Son)
A partly RSPO - - A
Bio-D All Purpose Sanitiser B 100% RSPO - - A
ECOS All Purpose Cleaner B 100% RSPO - - A
Etamine du Lys Liquid Black Soap B 25% 0% - - A
Greenscents All Purpose Castile Soap B no, but refill 0% - - A
Biovie All-Purpose Cleaner
(Léa Nature)
A+ no RSPO - - A-
Biovie Black Soap (liquid or spray)
(Léa Nature)
A+ no 0% - - A-
Ecover (Zero) All-Purpose Cleaner
(S.C. Johnson & Son)
A partly RSPO - Phenoxyethanol A-
Greenscents Floor Soap B no, but refill 0% - Benzyl alcohol A-
Greenscents Multi Surface Spray B no, but refill 0% - Benzyl alcohol A-
Attitude All Purpose Cleaner A no, but
carbon neutral
not RSPO - - B+
Sonett All Purpose Cleaner B no organic - - B+
Dr Bronner's Sal Suds Liquid Cleaner A+ mostly organic Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Coco-Betaine - B
Etamine du Lys Floor & Surfaces B 25% 0% - Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate B-
L'Arbre Vert All-Purpose Cleaner A no RSPO SLES - B-
Cif Floor
(Unilever)
B no mostly
RSPO
Unspecified surfactants Phenoxyethanol C
Ecoleaf Multi Surface Cleaner
Suma
B 100% RSPO Unspecified surfactants Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate C
Twido
(Aldi)
B 70% RSPO Unspecified surfactants Bronopol C
Dettol Power & Fresh
(Reckitt Benckiser)
C no some
RSPO
Unspecified surfactants - C-
Seventh Generation All Purpose Cleaner A 100% RSPO BIT MIT C-
W5
(Lidl)
B 30% RSPO Unspecified surfactants Bronopol C-
Dettol Original Liquid
(Reckitt Benckiser)
C no some
RSPO
Unspecified surfactants Chloroxylenol D+
Cif Antibacterial All Purpose Cleaner
(Unilever)
B no mostly
RSPO
Phosphonates, Unspecified surfactants Benzalkonium Chloride D
Dettol Antibacterial Surface Cleaner
(Reckitt Benckiser)
C no some
RSPO
Unspecified surfactants Benzalkonium Chloride D
Mr Clean
(Procter & Gamble)
C no partly
RSPO
Alcohol Ethoxylate, BIT - D
Cif Cream
(Unilever)
B 100% mostly
RSPO
BIT, Unspecified surfactants MIT, Phenoxyethanol D-
Ajax All Purpose Cleaner
(Colgate-Palmolive)
B no mostly RSPO Unspecified surfactants Benzyl Salicylate, CMIT, MIT D-
Frosch All Purpose Cleaner A 100% 0% SLES Diethanolamine, Phenoxyethanol, Triethanolamine D-
Ajax Fresh Fragrance All Purpose Cleaner
(Colgate-Palmolive)
B no mostly RSPO OIT, Unspecified surfactants Lilial, CMIT, MIT E+
Ecozone Anti-bacterial cleaner B 100% RSPO BIT Lilial, MIT E+
Modere Multi-surfaces Cleaner D- no not RSPO Alcohol ethoxylate, BIT MIT F+

Ecological ratings of Kitchen Cleaners & Degreasers

Best value A-rated kitchen/grease cleaner

Attitude 800ml spray

Biovie 750ml spray

Sonnett 500ml bottle

Product Brand Ethos Recycled bottle Palm oil Aquatoxic substances Health hazard RATING
Ecodoo Oven & BBQ Cleaner
(Ekibio)
A+ 100% RSPO - - A+
Sodasan Organic Kitchen Cleaner A+ 100% RSPO - - A+
Etamine du Lys Kitchen Cleaner B 25% 0% - - A
Etamine du Lys Hobs Cleaner B 25% 0% - - A
Attitude Kitchen Cleaner A no, but
carbon neutral
not RSPO - - A-
Bentley Organics B no sustainable - - A-
Biovie Kitchen Degreaser Spray
(Léa Nature)
A+ no RSPO - - A-
Ecover Oven & Hob Cleaner
(S.C. Johnson & Son)
A partly RSPO - Phenoxyethanol A-
Sonett Orange Power Cleaner B no organic - - A-
L'Arbre Vert Grease Cleaner A no RSPO SLES - B-
Cillit Bang Power Cleaner Degreaser Spray
(Reckitt Benckiser)
C no some
RSPO
Unspecified surfactants - C
Vitro Clen Hob Cleaner
(Reckitt Benckiser)
C no some
RSPO
Unspecified surfactants - C
Frosch Soda Kitchen Cleaner A 100% 0% SLES Diethanolamine, Phenoxyethanol, Triethanolamine C-
Bref Kitchen
(Henkel)
C no partly
RSPO
Unspecified anionic surfactants - D
Bref Power Degreaser
(Henkel)
C no partly
RSPO
Unspecified anionic surfactants - D
W5
(Lidl)
B 30% RSPO Sulfonic acids, C14-17-sec-alkane, sodium salts Ethanolamine D
Dettol Kitchen Cleaner
(Reckitt Benckiser)
C no some
RSPO
Unspecified surfactants Hydrogen peroxide, Chlorine bleach D-
Ecozone B 100% some BIT, Isotridecanol, ethoxylated, Trideceth-9 Ethanolamine, MIT E
Mr Muscle Platinum Kitchen
(S.C. Johnson & Son)
E no some
RSPO
Quaternary ammonium compounds, Unspecified surfactants Alkyl Dimethyl benzyl ammonium chlorides (C12-16) E
Cif Power Shine Kitchen Spray
(Unilever)
B no mostly
RSPO
BIT, Unspecified surfactants Phenoxyethanol, MIT E-
Carolin Degreaser
(Bolton Group)
D no not RSPO Alcohol ethoxylate, Unspecified surfactants Ethanolamine F

Ecological ratings of Bathroom Cleaners & Limescale Removers

Best value A-rated bathroom cleaner

Sonett Decalcifier 1L bottle

Attitude Bathroom Cleaner

Biovie Bathroom spray 750ml

Product Brand Ethos Recycled bottle Palm oil Aquatoxic substances Health hazard RATING
Ecodoo Limescale Remover
(Ekibio)
A+ 100% RSPO - - A+
Sodasan Shower & Bathroom Cleaner A+ 100% RSPO - - A+
ECOS Shower Cleaner B 100% RSPO - - A
Ecover Limescale Remover
(S.C. Johnson & Son)
A partly RSPO - - A
Ecozone Daily Shower Cleaner B 100% some - - A
Ecozone Limescale Remover B 100% some - - A
Etamine du Lys Bathroom Cleaner B 25% 0% - - A
Etamine du Lys Limescale Remover B 25% 0% - - A
Seventh Generation Bathroom Cleaner A 100% RSPO - - A
Biovie Bathroom Spray
(Léa Nature)
A+ no RSPO - - A-
Ecover Bathroom Cleaner
(S.C. Johnson & Son)
A partly RSPO - Phenoxyethanol A-
Frosch Bathroom Cleaner A 100% 0% SLES - A-
Attitude Bathroom Cleaner A no, but
carbon neutral
not RSPO - - B+
Bentley Organic Shower & Bathroom Cleaner B no sustainable - - B+
Bio-D All Purpose Sanitiser B 100% RSPO Cocoamidopropyl betaine - B+
Sonett Bathroom Cleaner B no organic - - B+
Sonett Decalcifier B no organic - - B+
Frosch Limescale Remover A 100% 0% Laureth-7, SLES - B
Ecozone Mould Remover B 100% some - Benzalkonium Chloride B-
L'Arbre Vert Limescaler Remover A no RSPO SLES - B-
Cif Limescale Remover Powered by Nature
(Unilever)
B 100% mostly
RSPO
- CMIT, MIT C
Dettol Power & Pure Bathroom Spray
(Reckitt Benckiser)
C no some
RSPO
Unspecified surfactants Hydrogen peroxide D+
Ecozone Anti-bacterial Ultra Shower Cleaner B 100% some Alcohol Ethoxylate, BIT Benzalkonium Chloride D
Flash
(Procter & Gamble)
C no partly
RSPO
Alcohol Ethoxylate, BIT - D
Antikal
(Procter & Gamble)
C no partly
RSPO
Unspecified surfactants Benzyl Salicylate D-
Cif Power & Shine Bathroom Spray
(Unilever)
B no mostly
RSPO
Unspecified surfactants Benzyl Salicylate, CMIT, MIT D-
Mr Muscle Platinum Bathroom
(S.C. Johnson & Son)
E no some
RSPO
Quaternary ammonium compounds, Unspecified surfactants Alkyl Dimethyl benzyl ammonium chlorides (C12-16) E
Ecozone Allround Bathroom Cleaner B 100% some Alcohol Ethoxylate, BIT, SLES, Trideceth-9 MIT, MEK E-

Ecological ratings of Glass & Windows Cleaners

Best value A-rated glass & windows cleaner

Bio-D 5L bottle

Sodasan 5L bottle

Biovie Bathroom spray 750ml

Product Brand Ethos Recycled bottle Palm oil Aquatoxic substances Health hazard RATING
Ecodoo Window Cleaner
(Ekibio)
A+ 100% RSPO - - A+
Sodasan Glass Surface Cleaner A+ 100% RSPO - - A+
ECOS Window Cleaner B 100% RSPO - - A
Ecover Window & Glass Cleaner
(S.C. Johnson & Son)
A partly RSPO - - A
Bio-D Glass & Mirror Cleaner B 100% RSPO Unspecified surfactants - A-
Biovie Glass Surface Cleaner
(Léa Nature)
A+ no RSPO - - A-
Etamine du Lys Window & Glass Cleaner B 25% 0% Cocoamidopropyl betaine - A-
Frosch Window Cleaner A 100% 0% SLES MEK B+
Attitude Window & Glass Cleaner A no, but
carbon neutral
not RSPO - - B+
Bentley Organic Window & Glass Cleaner B no sustainable - - B+
Sonett Multi-Surface and Glass Cleaner B no organic SLES - B-
L'Arbre Vert Glass Surface Cleaner A no RSPO SLES - B-
Ajax 3-Way Active Glass Cleaner
(Colgate-Palmolive)
B no mostly RSPO Cocamidopropyl Betaine - C+
Windolene Window Cleaners
(Reckitt Benckiser)
C no some
RSPO
Unspecified surfactants - C-
Instanet Glass & Window Cleaner
(Henkel)
C no partly
RSPO
Unspecified anionic surfactants - D
Mr Muscle Platinum Window & Glass
(S.C. Johnson & Son)
E no some
RSPO
Sodium dodecylbenzenesulfonate, Sodium C14-17-sec-alkane-sulfonate - D

Ecological ratings of toilet cleaners

Best value A-rated toilet cleaners

Ecover 750ml

Bio-D 5L bottle

Seventh Generation 750ml

Note that since toilet cleaners are not meant to be in contact with the skin, the only chemicals toxic to humans that were included in the rating are those potentially causing eye and respiratory irritation (including asthma) in some people. These are chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite) and hydrochloric acid.

Product Brand Ethos Recycled bottle Palm oil Aquatoxic substances Health hazard RATING
Ecodoo
(Ekibio)
A+ 100% RSPO - - A+
Sodasan A+ 100% RSPO - - A+
Ecover (all types)
(S.C. Johnson & Son)
A 100% RSPO - - A+
Frosch (Rainett) A 100% 0% SLES - A
Greenscents B no, but refill 0% - - A
Seventh Generation A 100% RSPO - - A
Bio-D B 100% RSPO - - A-
Biovie Toilet Cleaner
(Léa Nature)
A+ no RSPO - - A-
L'Arbre Vert A no RSPO - - B+
Bentley Organics B no no, but sustainable - - B
Etamine du Lys B no RSPO - - B
Sonett B no organic - - B
Domestos Zero Limescale
(Unilever)
B no mostly RSPO - Hydrochloric acid B-
Domestos Power Fresh
(Unilever)
B no mostly RSPO - - B-
Ecoleaf
Suma
B 100% RSPO BIT - C+
Ecozone B 100% some BIT - C+
Twido 3-in-1
(Aldi)
B 70% RSPO Myristamine oxide, Chlorine bleach Chlorine bleach C+
Bref WC Pro Nature
(Henkel)
C 50% partly
RSPO
Unspecified anionic surfactants - C
Domestos Thick Bleach
(Unilever)
B no mostly RSPO Chlorine bleach Chlorine bleach C
Harpic Active Fresh
(Reckitt Benckiser)
C no some RSPO - - D+
Harpic 100% Limescale Remover
(Reckitt Benckiser)
C no some RSPO - Hydrochloric acid D
Harpic Platinum Pro-Shield
(Reckitt Benckiser)
C no some RSPO - Hydrochloric acid D
Harpic Power Plus
(Reckitt Benckiser)
C no some RSPO - Hydrochloric acid D
Lacroix WC Javel
(Colgate-Palmolive)
B no mostly RSPO Chlorine bleach Chlorine bleach D
Harpic Active Fresh Toilet Block
(Reckitt Benckiser)
C no some RSPO Sodium dodecyl benzene sulfonate - E+
Harpic Active Toilet Block
(Reckitt Benckiser)
C no some RSPO Sodium dodecyl benzene sulfonate - E+
Toilet Duck Extra Power
(S.C. Johnson & Son)
E no some RSPO Alkyl sulfates (C12-18)
Chlorine bleach
Chlorine bleach E
WC Net
(Bolton Group)
D no not RSPO Chlorine bleach Chlorine bleach E
Harpic White & Shine Bleach
(Reckitt Benckiser)
C no some RSPO Chlorine bleach
CMIT
MIT
Chlorine bleach E
Bref 10x Effect Powergel
(Henkel)
C no partly
RSPO
PEG-2 oleamine Hydrochloric acid E-


In the same report


Choosing healthy and eco-friendly personal care and home care products

Ecological rating of laundry detergents

Ecological rating of washing-up liquids and dishwasher tablets

Ecological rating of hand soaps, body washes, shampoos and conditioners


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