Whether you’ve taken social distancing measures as an
opportunity to get busy with housework, or you need to get your home looking vaguely ship-shaped for when people can visit again, cleaning is always on the agenda, even
or especially in current circumstances. We’ve written in the past about the
biobased products available for spring cleaning, and now is as good a time as
any to revisit the topic.
First up on the list is Boulder Clean’s laundry detergent, a
plant-based cleaner that utilises orange oil and enzymes to achieve clean and
fresh-smelling clothes without the use of synthetic fragrances or dyes. The
detergent also comes packaged in a bottle containing Braskem’s I’m green™
biobased plastic, ensuring a reduction in carbon footprint in both the product
and the packaging.
The bioeconomy is not just about utilising plants to produce
sustainable products. Waste also acts as an important feedstock for a great
many biobased products. Food waste is of particular interest, and Ecover’s new
washing up liquid redirects waste ingredients from a Belgian beer manufacturer,
making up up to 25% of the product’s formula. The packaging is also made from
It’s not just the cleaning products: cleaning tools can also
be biobased. The recent popularity of bamboo toothbrushes has shown that dental
care can be sustainable, and now Walgreens have released flossing tools that
are made from a biobased alternative to plastic that is also, like bamboo
toothbrushes, compostable. Ordinarily flossing tools are, alongside cotton
buds, small pieces of plastic that can quite easily end up in the environment
when thrown away, and so Walgreens’ alternative could help assuage this
Sustainability is all about innovation: there is more to
reducing emissions that just using biobased ingredients, and there is more to
waste reduction than recycling. Tru Earth’s laundry strips are designed to have
as little environmental impact as possible. The strips are highly concentrated
biobased cleaning agents, which replace powder or capsules. The thin strips
mean that they can be packaged in envelopes, reducing emissions from transport
due to their light weight and ability to be tightly packed, while also reducing
plastic waste by eliminating bottles or tubs from the packaging. It is products
like this that demonstrate how there are still important innovations to be made
in the pursuit of sustainability.
Another product that thinks “outside the box” is VEO’s
cleaner, which eschews more traditional cleaning chemicals in favour of a
“probiotic” approach. By stimulating the growth of non-harmful bacteria, VEO
claims that its cleaner continues to protect the surfaces it cleans for up to 3
days after application, by allowing the bacteria to biodegrade the dirt on
surfaces. This is a novel approach to cleaning with biobased ingredients that
comes packaged in a recycled plastic bottle.
Obviously, it’s easy to think that all cleaning products are
the similar – most home cleaning products will be a concoction of surfactants,
disinfectants, and so on – but there are still plenty of non-typical cleaning
applications that can be (and are) biobased. One such application is rust
removal, which is of course essential for maintenance of machines and tools.
Cortec’s EcoAir rust remover is USDA certified 92% biobased, and works to
remove tarnishing from various metals, and has a specially designed spray can which
works without polluting chemical propellants.
Here in Yorkshire our water has a relatively high hardness
for the UK, which means limescale and soap scum are persistent problems,
particularly in bathrooms where surfaces get wet. Method’s shower cleaner
utilises biobased lactic acid and other corn-starch-derived ingredients to
break down and prevent the buildup of limescale and soap scum, intended to be
applied immediately after showering, saving you the job of cleaning later.
Before UK restrictions on outdoor exercise were relaxed,
cycling was an important activity for many people to stay fit (and sane) during
lockdown. Home bike maintenance is easier than many people expect, and keeping
the drive train free of grease and dirt keeps the ride smooth. Thanks to WPL
this can be done with a 96% biobased degreaser.
Cleaning extends beyond the removal of dirt, and for many
items, upkeep is just as important. Furniture can pick up scuffs and other
damage during everyday use, and so polishing is important to keep it looking
new. Daddy Van’s furniture polish is derived from beeswax, and has the US
BioPreferred certification, meaning the US public sector is encouraged to use
it. The company also has a range of furniture care products using hemp oil as
the main ingredient.
During social distancing, it is important to keep the
windows clean, in order to let as much natural light in (and to stare longingly
at the outside world, remembering when you could still frolic in it, and
wondering when you will again…). Cleaning glass requires specialised products
that don’t leave streaks or residue. Seventh Generation’s glass cleaner is
certified by the USDA to be 96% biobased and biodegradable, and does not
contain any harmful chemicals.