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Green all-purpose cleaners lose out to a veteran in our tests

Consumer Reports News: September 27, 2012 06:08 AM

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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.

Pine-Sol's only drawback is that it pours rather than sprays. But with convenience comes less cleaning power. Although several sprays excelled at one or two tasks in our all-purpose cleaner tests, they stopped short of being all-purpose. We also found some green cleaners among the better sprays including those from Green Works and Seventh Generation. But 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.

   

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