Are organic household products as effective as conventional ones?

We were at Helen Browning’s organic farm near Swindon with The Soil Association and Marie Claire last week discussing what makes organic cleaning products different.  There will be a short film released in September featuring a number of organic brands so we will keep you posted!

Apart from all the good things about organic provenance, environmental benefits and human health, organic household products need to perform as effective cleaners.  So how do they stack up against conventional products?

Picture Courtesy – Annie Spratt

Organic products pass all the same tests as conventional cleaners

When we design a new product, we always involve our trusted chemists who are specialists in organic ingredients.  After 10 years of designing unique finished products, it is very much a partnership.  Compared to conventional (or other ‘green’ cleaning and laundry products) we have a very limited palette of ingredients to work with, as many common chemicals such as SLS and SLES are banned by The Soil Association. Sourcing ingredients takes a great deal of time, as some will pass The Soil Association standards but may not be palm oil free, so then we must look for other suppliers.  This means that designing new products is a real challenge, but we know that the result will be best for human health and the environment – so it is all worth it! 

Once we are happy with the formulation and it has been approved by all our certification bodies, the new product is then subject to many laboratory tests that are just the same as for conventional products.  These tests confirm the stability and shelf life of the product as well as providing a detailed picture of any microbial activity.  Once the packaging is agreed and new labels designed, we ask friends and family to test the products in their homes and give feedback before we finally launch the new product on our website.

A sample of every batch of product made in our workshop is sent to the lab for analysis and this is how we ensure that Greenscents products are safe and ready for sale.

Why are my organic products not always the same?

Organic ingredients come from natural sources that are grown in the natural environment.  This means that they are exposed to different levels of rainfall and sunshine.  Our organic soap nuts and aloe vera can vary significantly in colour and this means that the finished product can vary too.  We find that organic glycerine and other organic ingredients can have different viscosities, and this means that sometimes your product may be thicker or runnier.  In the winter, you may find that your organic products thicken up if they have been kept in cold conditions.  Sometimes this happens if they have been stored in an unheated warehouse.  We recommend putting your product in the airing cupboard overnight or if necessary, adding a little water to create the right consistency.  Working with organic ingredients is challenging and can require a little extra work at times!

Stand out fact: if you want to know what’s in your household product look for the Soil Association logo

Green cleaners are not all equal and there is a plethora of new brands on the market.  It is very difficult to tell many brands apart and you may struggle to understand the ingredients.  This is because by law, companies do not have to reveal ingredients – they only have to state the category of chemicals that are included.  You may have seen ‘anionic surfactant’, ‘amphoteric surfactant’ or ‘perfum’ on a label and wondered what this was.  These are not ingredients they are simply chemical descriptors, and it is worth asking the question why this brand does not want to reveal its ingredients list.

The good news is that all Soil Association certified products must list all ingredients on product labels.  This is so useful for ethical shoppers, those with allergies or those wanting to reduce allergens for babies, children or older people.

For effective cleaning always follow the directions!

Your organic household products can remove bacteria and viruses as effectively as conventional cleaners, but it is very important to follow the directions on the label.  This will ensure you get optimal results.

This is just as important if you are using an anti-bacterial product in the Greenscents range such as our bergamot spray or our loo cleaners.  If you leave the product on the surface for 1 minute you can kill 99.9% of harmful bacteria.  We do not recommend using anti-bacterial sprays routinely, otherwise this can lead to antimicrobial resistance in bacteria.  If bacteria mutate in response to an anti-bacterial product, it makes the bacteria able to withstand the product designed to kill them.  This can lead to serious illnesses.  Anti-bacterial sprays should be used in special circumstances – for example if a member of your family has been ill. 

Using organic household products is a win-win: effective cleaning without the nasties – what could be better than that!

Shop the Greenscents range here.

More information on Greenscents ingredients can be found here

If you are interested in our anti-bacterial products find more information here.