Category Natural Living

Juicing: The Ultimate Power-Up

Chronic disease, arthritis, migraines, digestive disorders, acne. These are just a number of ailments that plague us all. If you were to visit your doctor, you would likely receive a prescription to alleviate the symptoms.

Ever wonder if there’s a better way than taking a pill that disguises the symptoms?

Enter the limitless world of juicing!

Juicing is essentially nature’s multi-vitamin.

Far from buying a bottle of apple juice from the store rack or even claimed “fresh-pressed” juices in the health section’s refrigerator, juicing at home extracts the nutrients from fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs in a juice form. This results in high-quality, nutrient-dense juice that wards of diseases and ailments with the swish of a glass.

Sound intriguing? Just wait until you hear how the benefits can transform your health!

Health Benefits of Juicing

Most people know that eating a rainbow of vegetables is important to a balanced diet. 

For most of us, however, that’s easier said than done. Kale rarely calls our name after a stressful day at the office. Broccoli doesn’t replace the bowl of ice cream on Netflix and Chill night. Strawberries are more enticing when covered with chocolate and delivered in a bouquet. It’s hard to shrug off cravings and eat balanced meals

Juicing helps fill the nutrient gaps in our modern American diets. There many benefits to juicing, but here are a few highlights:

1. Efficient nutrient absorption

Juicing introduces vitamins and minerals directly to the bloodstream. You get the immediate benefits and perks of countless nutrients without needing to digest all the fiber.

It’s hard to miss the boost of energy, longer attention span, improved mood, and other remarkable benefits you feel almost immediately after drinking a cup of fresh juice!

2. Juicing encourages consuming a variety of vegetables… which means a variety of nutrients

There’s dozens of highly-nutritious vegetables many Americans avoid or never consider eating. Juicing is an easy way to consume the essential nutrients our bodies need while skipping the nasty taste or texture. 

  • Kale: Vitamins A, C, and K, plus antioxidants help reduce the risk of heart disease
  • Beets: manganese, potassium, folate, and nitrates lower blood pressure and improve brain health
  • Spinach: Vitamins A, C, K, E, and B, along with amino acids, potassium, iron, and iodine which fight cancer and arthritis  
  • And others like cabbage, broccoli, cucumbers, Swiss chard, celery, and carrots are full of vitamins and minerals that improve your health and fight disease

But what’s even more surprising, you might find your taste buds change to actually like the vegetables you used to disdain. This well-documented phenomenon is an unexpected benefit and can help transition to a healthier lifestyle by enjoying consuming raw vegetables.

3. Juicing helps prevent disease, ailments, and inflammation

While many blogs and books share true stories about fresh juice healing cancer or autoimmune diseases, this may not be the case for everyone. However, juicing is excellent at preventing disease. 

The plethora and variety of vitamins and minerals in fresh juice strengthen the immune system to ward off invaders. The wide range of nutrients in juicing can help aid:

  • Acne
  • Allergies
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Headaches
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Psoriasis
  • and plenty more!

Sites like Pinterest have pages of juicing recipes for gut health, heart disease, inflammation, detox, energy boosts, and more!

It keeps going…

There are many more benefits to juicing, like boosting the immune system, increased energy levels, weight loss, gentle detox, clearer skin, improved athletic performance, and others. 

Juicing may seem too good to be true. What do the critics have to say?

Isn’t Juicing Controversial?

Opinions on juicing swing back and forth like a pendulum. The benefits are often squashed under dismissive misinformation and research from when juicing is taken to extreme measures.

Juicing diets and fasts were all the rage a few years ago. These diets replace all solid foods with fresh juices, proudly proclaiming rapid weight loss and alleviation of many ailments.

Unfortunately, these diets are neither helpful or sustainable. The human body needs more than the nutrients provided in juicing. It needs protein, fat, cholesterol, dairy, and more in order to be healthy. As a result, headaches, dehydration, low blood sugar, and kidney stones can result from a strict juicing diet. After completing a juicing diet, the weight comes back and ailments soon return. 

However, juicing is substantially beneficial when consumed in appropriate amounts and alongside other nutrient sources. In fact, it’s one of the best and most efficient way to consume all the nutrients nature has to offer!

How Do I Start?

Are you ready to easily improve your health and prevent disease with the nutrient power-punch of juicing? It’s simpler than you might think.

First, you need a juicer! A quick Google or Amazon search yields hundreds of results ranging from $50 to $300 or more! But don’t be fooled by the price; the quality of a more expensive juicer may not be worth the cost. The juicer market is highly competitive, so a juicer in the middle or low price range does the job just as well as higher-end juicers. 

Next, you need produce. The sky is the limit for juicing, although recipes can be helpful for beginners or if you’re trying to aid a certain ailment. Aim for a variety of vegetables, especially ones you don’t gravitate towards.

Finally, get juicing! Make sure to thoroughly wash all produce and cut off the ends and yucky parts. Use and clean the juicer according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Most importantly, drink the juice as soon as possible! Due to oxidation (the process of oxygen breaking down molecules), fresh juice is the most nutritious when consumed within 20 minutes after extraction.  

The Do’s and Don’ts of Juicing

While juicing is pretty straightforward and fool-proof, there are a few tips to improve your juicing experience.  

Do… sip the juice!

A rookie mistake when drinking fresh juices is to chug. This happens especially if you’re in a hurry or don’t like the taste. However, our brains need time to catch up with what goes into our stomachs!

Imagine munching the whole pound of carrots that’s represented in the juice sitting in your glass. You’d be really full! Juicing allows you to ingest tons of nutrients without the bulk of fiber, making you feel qualitatively full with less quantity.   

Sipping the fresh juice allows your brain to process all the nutrients. You’ll find that the juice satisfies your nutrient needs, which leaves you feeling full.   

Do… buy organic produce (when you can)

Buying organic produce adds up quickly! But for the purpose of juicing, it’s pretty important. 

Juicing separates the juice from fiber, and the pesticides used in conventional farming end up in the juice. That means you’re ingesting all the chemicals and nutrients together without the fiber that helps moves them through the digestive tract.

While it’s best to buy organic, sometimes it’s just not feasible. If that’s the case, you don’t have to miss out on the benefits of juicing. Try abiding by EWG’s Dirty Dozen+ list. It’s a quick guide that ranks what produce contains the most pesticides; try to buy these fruits and vegetables organically.  

Don’t… replace all your fruits and veggies with juice!

Don’t believe the lie that juicing is the loophole to consuming fruit and vegetables in their natural form. 

The fiber in fruits and vegetables is essential to digestion and moving stool through the bowels. Don’t replace all your nutrition with juice or you could suffer from constipation or diarrhea. Alternatively, you can use the collected pulp in baking, or add some into your juice for improved digestion. 

On the positive side, juicing unpleasant vegetables gives your taste buds exposure to vegetables you never would have tried. This develops good taste buds for consuming them in their raw or cooked form!

Don’t… juice only fruits!

As tempting as it might be, don’t shock your system by juicing only fruits! This intense sugar rush isn’t beneficial and could leave you feeling nauseous. 

Instead, leverage your juices to consume nutrient-dense but rather unpleasant raw vegetables like kale, bitter greens, and Swiss chard. Use fruits in small amounts to slightly sweeten the juice to make it more enjoyable. (And remember, although they’re a vegetable, beets are sweet!)

Embrace something new

It’s never been easier to get a cup full of power-packed disease-fighting goodness! Juicing is one of the most efficient ways to glean dozens of powerful nutrients in a single glass. Together, let’s toast to health! 

Review:: Eco-Me Glass Cleaner

Eco-Me is a company that we’ve reviewed before, and it won’t be the last! This company makes products with high-quality ingredients that deliver great results.

Today we are reviewing their glass cleaner, and given how much I loved their previous offerings, I couldn’t wait to get started!

Who is Eco-Me?

Eco-Me was born in 2006 out of need and concern. Founders Robin Kay Levine and Jennifer Mihajlov saw the need to remove harmful chemicals from their homes when Levine’s sister was diagnosed with breast cancer at an early age.

After researching environmental factors as possibly contributing to this diagnosis, the team realized that toxins from everyday products were leading to an increase in disease.

Together, Levine and Mihajlov created Eco-Me, a company that creates products that focuses on family health and wellness. They use premium quality ingredients that deliver a safe and effective clean.

The company also carries the GreenSeal.org ECO SCALE certification. This is a nonprofit organization that holds high standards on toxicity, packaging materials, and more to help customers easily identify high-quality, safe, and eco-friendly products.

Sounds like a great company! I couldn’t wait to get the product!

How does it look and smell?

Eco-Me’s Glass Cleaner comes in a large 32-ounce bottle featuring the distinctive Eco-Me tree front and center.

It promises to clean dirt, grease and grime from windows and mirrors with their natural, plant-derived formula.

I try to buy products that are fragrance-free to avoid flaring up my sensitivities but this only comes in an Herbal Mint scent.

The fragrance is very unique: mint, an undetectable combination of herbs, and vinegar. Thankfully, it isn’t an unpleasant scent or very strong, and the scent wipes away with the cleaner.

Perhaps I received a damaged bottle, but the spray head is very flimsy and frustrating to use. Given how large the bottle was, I needed a sturdy spray head.

Otherwise, the bottle was appealing, informative, and got me excited about using the product!

Let’s get cleaning!

The directions say to shake well, spray, and wipe with a dry cloth.

One thing I did notice about this glass cleaner in comparison to others I’ve reviewed is I did need to use a completely dry cloth in order to get a streak-free shine. Once the cloth became damp, it was harder and harder to wipe away all the streaks.

I went through three times the cloths I normally use when cleaning my windows!

This could possibly be because the product doesn’t have alcohol in it—an ingredient that allows evaporation for a quicker streak-free finish.  Whatever the reason, it didn’t exactly appeal.

Glass Kitchen Table

First up was my kitchen table. This is always the toughest job for the glass cleaners I review. Sticky honey, spilt milk, finger smudges, and other questionable substances are frequently present on my table.

The cleaner cut through almost all the smudges, stickiness, and grime on the first swipe! I only had to reapply to select extra-tough spots.

Look at that sparkling shine!

Kitchen Windows

The window right above my kitchen sink is easily overlooked during routine cleaning. Then a day comes when I can’t stand how dirty it is! Today was one of those days, and I was so glad to have a new cleaner to try.

The cleaner did completely remove the splotches and dirt from my window, but I had to work harder for that streak-free shine than I did for the kitchen table; I had to spray certain areas three times to get the window completely clean, and I had to change my cloth to a dry one in order to remove the streaks.

I have to say, I have tried better.

Glass Doors… inside and out!

Curious about how the cleaner would work on the outside of windows, I moved on to my glass doors. Cleaning the inside of the doors was a breeze. The outside of the doors was a different story.

The normal outdoor buildup of pollen, dirt, and water stains required some extra spraying and scrubbing to remove. I needed to change my cloth to a dry one about halfway through cleaning.

But once everything was clean and dry, the glass doors looked so amazing that a picture couldn’t do it justice.

Mirrors

Last… and unfortunately the least impressive was the bathroom mirror. The cleaner hardly worked any better than water at removing stains. I had to pick away dried toothpaste dots and it was difficult to keep the product from streaking.

I have to say, it was a disappointing finish to a test that started out wildly successful.

Do the ingredients stack up?

The results of my test were a toss-up. Eco-Me’s Glass Cleaner had several big wins and several surprising failures. But my approval of any product is dependent on the ingredients.

Eco-Me does strive to educate their customers on their ingredients by giving a very brief explanation of each ingredient in the product. This automatically puts them ahead of most of the industry – most of whom won’t even disclose what’s in their products.

Inside this product are:

  • Water
  • Acetic Acid
  • Caprylyl Glucoside
  • Sodium Lauryl Glucose Carboxylate
  • Lauryl Glucoside
  • Natural Plant Essential Oils

Acetic Acid is vinegar, one of the most natural cleaning solutions that have been used for thousands of years. Its acidic properties dissolve grease and grime without damaging surfaces. Best of all, it’s safe for those with sensitivities to use!

Caprylyl and Lauryl Glucoside are non-ionic surfactants derived from the fatty alcohols and glucose found in vegetables. Its gentle cleansing properties are safe for those with skin sensitivities.

Sodium Lauryl Glucose Carboxylate is derived from the glucoside of corn and coconut, but there isn’t much information on the substance. No studies report negative side effects, but it also hasn’t been reviewed by the Cosmetics Database or EWG. As a foaming agent, this ingredient is a natural replacement for sodium laureth sulfate, also known as SLES, a huge eye and skin irritant.

Finally, the product is scented with an undisclosed mix of essential oils. Especially since this is a mix of oils, this is problematic for those with sensitivities to scents. Worse, leaving the consumer with a vague title is conforming to the typical behavior of conventional cleaning and personal care companies.

Scents–even essential oils–are volatile compounds that can cause asthmatic effects, contact dermatitis, headaches, and other irritating symptoms like uncontrollable sneezing.

With how hard Eco-Me fights against the current of conventional companies, it’s baffling and disappointing that they don’t give full disclosure on fragrances.

What’s the verdict?

This product had about equal highs and lows.

It cleaned some surfaces amazingly well; other surfaces it barely did a thing. I also had to frequently change my cleaning towel in order to avoid streaking. That adds up to a lot of extra laundry or paper towels!

With the exception of the undisclosed essential oil mixture, the ingredients were spot on. I couldn’t be happier with the selection: tried and true vinegar, safe and gentle cleansers, and a respectable replacement for SLES.

I would recommend this product but it may not be an all-purpose glass cleaner. I’ll be using this product frequently for my kitchen table though, which isn’t really what it was created for.

Originally published at Safe Household Cleaning.

Review:: Bean & Lily Glass Cleaner

With spring on the horizon, it’s time to wipe away the gloomy winter streaks on the window panes and let the beautiful sunshine in.

What better way to get the job done than with a great, effective, all-natural glass cleaner?

Bean & Lily’s Glass Cleaner promises a powerful clean through pH-neutral ingredients to leave your windows sparkling. Let’s get started!

Who is Bean & Lily?

Co-Founders Katy Minner and Richie Barbour met through their sales careers in flooring. With over 30 years of combined experience, Minner and Barbour joined forces to create Bean & Lily and focus on offering products that were pH-neutral.

Most conventional cleaners use highly acidic or basic solutions to break down contaminants. But these elements are harsh and dangerous to humans, pets, the environment, and corrode and damage surfaces over time.

Instead, Bean & Lily offers pH neutral products that let the natural cleaners do the work. All their products have a pH range of 6-8, right around the pH of pure water (7). This means their products are safe for all surfaces—including your hands!

This is a company who have thought about the inherent issues with today’s cleaning industry.  They are so proud of their ingredients, they aren’t afraid to disclose what goes in their products, setting apart from the majority of their peers.

This is a company we have encountered before, and I hope this won’t be the last time.   I was excited to get this product in the mail!

What are your first impressions?

Bean & Lily’s Glass Cleaner comes in a very appealing 24-ounce bottle. The label is crisp and attractive with a color scheme that itself promises a bright, clean finish.

Unlike some of the other glass cleaners we’ve reviewed that can be used on several surfaces, this is a cleaner specifically for glass, making it less versatile.

Due to my sensitivities, I normally try to buy unscented products to avoid fragrances.  But this glass cleaner only comes in a Lemongrass Green Tea scent. This is not a typical scent for cleaning products, but I was pleasantly surprised with the refreshing combination of fragrances.

Also, the scent was only present when the product was airborne and vanished after wiping. But more on that later!

The pretty bottle beckoned me to get cleaning! Here we go.

Looks good… but how well does it clean?

I had a few different tests for this cleaner and was excited to get started.

The directions say to spray and wipe with a lint-free cloth or brown paper towel. I used my regular lint-free cleaning towels, but still had some fuzzies left behind if not enough cleaner was used. This meant I had to spray ample amounts of cleaner, which felt somewhat wasteful.

Glass Door

The winter days have been long and my children have enjoyed doodling away their boredom with window markers. These usually wipe away easily with a wet wipe, but the cold temperatures caused the colorful streaks to hang around for some extra scrubbing.

The cleaner cut through most of the marker easily but needed an occasional re-wiping. However, the final result was a gloriously crystal-clear glass door! It was a pleasure to look through my back door again!

Kitchen Table

On to my infamous kitchen table! Always a challenge for glass cleaners, this time was no exception. Lots of sticky smudgy fingerprints and streaks covered the table.

Luckily, Bean & Lily’s Glass Cleaner dissolved and effortlessly wiped away almost all of the smudges on the first swipe. I did have to spray a second time on select stubborn areas, but I was pleasantly surprised at the overall effectiveness. In comparison to some of the other glass cleaners I’ve used on this messy table, this was one of the best!

Bay Window… inside and out!

My children love to press their cute faces and fingers against our front bay window to peer at the neighbors and never-ending stream of cars on our street. Needless to say, my front windows get messy in a hurry and I’m not in a hurry to clean them.

The smudges wiped away easily and left behind a truly crystal-clear shine. Now that the weather was finally warm enough, I was excited to test the glass cleaner on the outside of bay windows.

It was significantly harder to wipe away the natural elements on the outside of the windows. I had to spray and wipe several times. If I had been doing a larger section of the window I would need several towels because the extra outdoor residue building up on the towel caused some streaking. However, once it was all done, the windows were so clean they were almost blinding!

It’s a great cleaner… but what’s in it?

I was very impressed with this glass cleaner. It was a contender for my favorite glass cleaner so far. But we have to look at the ingredients.

Bean & Lily knows the cleaning industry conceals the dangerous ingredients in their products by remaining vague and making information difficult to find. Bean & Lily fights against this practice by giving full disclosure on all the ingredients in their products.

Their website is very helpful and user-friendly: simply click on the ingredient listed for a short explanation of the ingredient and its purpose. The glass cleaner has several ingredients that sound intimidating, but their informative website quickly puts your mind to ease:

  • Water
  • Polyquaternium-95
  • Sodium Propionate
  • Caprylyl/Myristyl Glucoside
  • Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine
  • Sodium Citrate
  • Natural Fragrance

I’d never seen the first two ingredients before until I started reviewing Bean & Lily products.  They are both seemingly favorites with this brand.  Polyquaternium-95 is a biodegradable modified starch that prevents streaking during the drying process for a spotless finish. It’s partially derived from petrochemicals, and we don’t know too much about it other than that.

Sodium Propionate, on the other hand, is much better known.  This is added to prevent mold growth in the product and is a food grade perservative.

Caprylyl and Myristyl Glucoside are plant-derived gentle surfactants. It is readily biodegradable, aids with penetrating and detergency for a better clean, and prevents streaking or filming for a polished finish.

Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine is another plant-derived gentle surfactant from coconut oil added for its foaming capabilities. With sloppy manufacturing, this element can contain 1,4-Dioxane, a known carcinogen that is hidden in conventional cleaners. Thankfully, Bean & Lily’s manufacturer guarantees this ingredient is free from 1,4-Dioxane.

Sodium Citrate is the sodium salt of citric acid used as a pH buffer and binding agent.

Not only has Bean & Lily done their due diligence to research and choose safe ingredients, they also inform and educate their customers on these ingredients and their use.

With all this intentionality, it is very puzzling that Bean & Lily lists Natural Fragrance. On their website, it states their natural fragrance is “A blend of natural essential oils and natural isolates or aroma molecules. These are all phthalate free and free of any Proposition 65 chemicals.”

Fragrances—even essential oils, natural isolates, or aroma molecules—are problematic for those with sensitivities to scents. They are volatile compounds that can cause contact dermatitis, respiratory effects, and asthmatic symptoms in some people.

Bean & Lily’s Glass Cleaner checks so many boxes, but this is one they missed big time.

Would you recommend this product?

Despite the disappointing misstep with the fragrance, this product is excellent. It cleans well and leaves a beautiful, crystal-clean shine unlike the other glass cleaners I’ve reviewed. And I was able to achieve such glorious windows without too much work on my part!

While the cleaner does smell nice—and isn’t your typical scent, which is refreshing—Bean & Lily doesn’t disclose the fragrance blend.

But fragrance aside, Bean & Lily does a great job with picking high-quality, naturally-derived ingredients that clean well. They also take a step above many companies by making their ingredient disclosure accessible and easy to understand to those of us who aren’t chemists.

All things considered, great job, Bean & Lily!

Originally published for Safe Household Cleaning.

Review:: ECOS Floor Cleaner

With all the gross (and often dangerous!) bacteria tracked in on our shoes, a floor cleaner has got to get down and dirty.  It has to effectively disinfect harmful bacteria, dissolve dirt and grease, remove stains, and leave a sparkling finish.

The old-fashioned mop and bucket days may soon be behind us. Standing spray mops are increasingly popular for their convenience and effective clean. Unfortunately, the cleaning agents are often filled with toxic chemicals and fragrances.

ECOS offers an excellent alternative to rigorous cleaning routines and harsh chemicals.

Their Lime + Sage Floor Cleaner comes in a spray bottle for easy spot treatment or total floor cleaning.

Best of all, it contains top-grade fully disclosed ingredients that don’t slack on the cleaning power.

I was thrilled to try this product!

Who is ECOS?

This isn’t the first ECOS product we’ve reviewed.

For the uninitiated, however, ECOS is a family owned and operated business who utilize their team of mothers, fathers, chemists, and visionaries to make safe, affordable, and powerful natural cleaning products.

ECOS has an impressive range of products, from laundry, kitchen, and bathroom, to baby formulations.

They sell their 200 products in over 60 countries worldwide!

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a new Safer Choice label to guide families in search of safer cleaning products. 70 of ECOS’s products proudly bear this new certification, and with the highest amount of certified Safer Choice products in the US, they were designated as the EPA’s Safer Choice 2017 & 2015 Partner of the Year.

ECOS takes their passion for sustainability one step further by manufacturing their products in carbon-neutral plants powered by renewable energy while following Zero-Waste guidelines.

Wow! I was very excited to try this floor cleaner from such an extraordinary company.

ECOS’s Floor Cleaner comes in an attractive 22-ounce bottle. It advertises a plant-powered quick clean for hardwood, laminate, and tile floors. While it’s not quite as versatile as some other floor cleaners we’ve reviewed, these three popular surfaces allow for plenty of cleaning opportunities!

While I try to buy unscented products, this one only comes in a Lemon + Sage scent. Many products that add fragrance to mute the alcoholic content end up with an overwhelming odor, but this scent was light and pleasant!

I actually enjoyed spraying this product!

The only thing I could dock the first impression on is the value—each 22 ounce bottle retails for about $10. The bottle says you can use it two ways: for spot cleaning or total floor cleaning. It may be practical for spot cleaning grease or hard stains, but this product will be gone in no time if used primarily for total floor cleaning.

Now to the cleaning…

Let’s get started!

For spot cleaning, the directions say to spray affected areas and let sit for a few minutes, then wipe clean with a mop or rag. For total floor cleaning, spray sections and mop as you go.

My nice white tile kitchen floor is a great exposition for floor cleaners. The obvious large and colorful food splatters practically leap off the floor. But what really makes my floor look dirty—and what is easily overlooked—is the grayish haze that slowly overwhelms the beautiful shine.

When it’s clean, my tile sparkles and glistens so brightly it could be in a magazine… until my husband’s muddy shoes trek their usual path to the dinner table at night!

My kids eat just about everything I put in front of them; steamed broccoli is one of their favorites, so they have it almost every day for lunch. Unfortunately, the floor is constantly littered with little leftover florets, thoroughly adhered to the tile. It’s amazing how hard these spots are to remove!

I also tried out the floor cleaner on days-old crusted pasta sauce and sprayed a large section of my floor to see if it brought out the tile’s wonderful shine.

The directions to let the product “sit for a few minutes” were pretty vague. I was only able to let the product sit for a minute (little children make cleaning floors tricky!), but I was beyond impressed with how easily the broccoli florets and pasta sauce wiped clean! It was the easiest spot cleaning I’ve ever done for these types of messes.

The cleaner wipes away hard messes and disinfects even better if you’re able to let it sit longer!

The large section turned out beautifully. Sparkling and glistening, I knew my floor had a good deep clean. And the light citrus scent was the cherry on top to another successful product!

However, one word of caution: this product made my floor incredibly slippery! We don’t wear shoes in the house, and my two-year-old had several major wipe-outs while running in his socks. (Thank goodness he thought it was funny!) I also had to tread carefully for fear of slipping.

Additionally, it took about a day for the slippery residue to subside, so test this product in a low-traffic area before using it. Even spot cleaning could be dangerous since you may not anticipate a slick spot.

This product checked all the right boxes! But do the ingredients measure up?

One thing that I love about this ECOS label is the ingredients list. Typically pretty boring, this list is helpful and insightful for ingredient critics. For every ingredient listed, ECOS includes a short explanation of its source and why it’s in the product.

Let’s take a look at what’s inside.

The cleaning agents in this product are very interesting indeed:

  • Denatured Alcohol is a corn-derived solvent used to disinfect, dissolve dirt, and evaporate quickly. A lot of floor cleaners contain an alcohol like this because of these very properties. – it stops dirt and germs in their tracks but allows you to walk across the surface immediately.
  • Decyl Glucoside is a surfactant derived from corn and coconuts. It’s biodegradable, non-ionic, and gentle on the skin.
  • Acetic acid is a plant-based vinegar that naturally fights grease and grime, and it’s safe for those with sensitivities. Paired with alcohol denatured, this product packs a powerful cleaning punch!
  • Gluconic acid occurs naturally in fruit, honey, and wine.  It’s an effective cleaner of mineral deposits, has antiseptic properties as well as being a strong chelating agent.

We’re basically talking alcohol, vinegar and a very gentle plant-based surfactant.  It doesn’t come much more natural than that.

Potassium Sorbate has been added to preserve the product. Both denatured alcohol and potassium sorbate are known to dry out skin and can even cause contact dermatitis, so wear gloves when using this product.

Alcohol Citric acid, derived from citrus fruits, and gluconic acid, found naturally in honey and wine, work together to properly adjust and maintain the pH of the product.  Possibly to help neutralize the acidic vinegar.

Most of these ingredients are passing with flying colors, but then comes the dreaded ambiguous ingredient: Natural Fragrance.

ECOS surprisingly does not disclose what fragrances are used or where they come from. No other information about fragrances is provided online, either. This is the typical behavior of most manufacturers of personal care and cleaning products, and is problematic for those with sensitivities to scents.  We tend to forget that fragrances are volatile compounds, can cause contact dermatitis, and can even cause asthmatic symptoms for some people. To not disclose the fragrances used is to the detriment of the consumer.

If you are sensitive to fragrances, this product is probably not for you.

Do you recommend it?

All things considered, I would recommend this product. Except for the Natural Fragrance, all the other ingredients are expertly chosen to deliver an effective clean with natural ingredients. It worked wonders not only on stubborn messes but also to restore the revitalizing shine to a dull floor.

Be sure to test this product on a low-traffic area to see how slippery it will make your floor and avoid any accidental falls!

Otherwise, bravo ECOS!

Originally published at Safe Household Cleaning.

Review:: Aunt Fannie’s Floor Cleaner

A lot of mess ends up on your floors! And it’s not just the stains you can see or the sticky spots you can feel under your socks. It’s also all the germs and dirt brought in on your shoes and slowly spread around the house by your feet as time goes on.

Yuck!

Here to save the day is a floor cleaner by a company new to us: Aunt Fannie’s.

As far as “natural” cleaners, Aunt Fannie’s might be as pure and natural as they come! Their Vinegar Wash Floor Cleaner made some big promises we were itching to test!

Who is Aunt Fannie’s?

Aunt Fannie’s has a very unique niche in the natural cleaning market: using ingredients that aren’t just the naturally-derived form of harsh conventional cleaners, but using ingredients that work with good microbes to support an overall healthy living environment.

When founder Mat Franken’s son suddenly developed life-threatening allergies, eczema, and more, he immediately began the process of removing all processed foods and plastics.

While this helped, it didn’t solve the problem. As Mat puts it, “the chemicals and crap we took out of the family diet were still in our broom closet.”

Mat discovered that conventional and even “natural” cleaners went too far. They wiped out all bacteria, good and bad—almost like an antibiotic.

This created a disrupted living environment for his son, who needed good microbes in order to thrive.

The answer to his son’s hyperactive immune response was to use non-disruptive ingredients that adapted to the other naturally-occurring organisms in the environment.

The house was clean, his son was cured, and Aunt Fannie’s was born.

This is a message that is unique, resonates with me personally and aligns so well with what we’re striving to promote with this site.  Like every company we review, this is a company who proudly disclose their cleaning product ingredients.  Like the majority we review, they understand the problems with today’s cleaning product industry.  They understand that, at its most irresponsible, the industry is causing e.g. asthma or respiratory issuescontact dermatitis, numerous long term environmental issues, hormone disruption and even cancer.  Like many companies we review they choose their ingredients with care and attention,  avoiding phosphatesfragrances etc etc.  But balancing their ingredients at a microbial level.  I personally haven’t seen anything like this.

And I’m sold…

First Impressions

Aunt Fannie’s Floor Cleaner comes in a cute little 32 ounce pour bottle. The back label was a little confusing—many of us can’t readily define what a microbiome is or why we should care—and Aunt Fannie’s website doesn’t do a great job of describing it, either.  (For the record, it’s a group of good microorganisms that fight against bad bacteria).

The liquid is cloudy, but the bubbles were very promising!

The cleaner comes in four different scents, and I got the Fresh Lime Mint. Since the main cleaning agent is white distilled vinegar, it definitely smelled of vinegar. A few notes of peppermint and lime came through, but I had to pay close attention to detect them.

On with the cleaning!

The directions say to use ½ cup of cleaner to 2 gallons of water. Soak the mop head in the solution and repeat as necessary. I typically clean my kitchen floor with a cleaner in a spray bottle (I like to apply cleaner directly to trouble spots) and a flat mop, so I hadn’t done this method in a number of years!

The Kitchen Tile

Although I have a big messy kitchen floor, two gallons of cleaning solution felt excessive. I halved the amount (1/4 cup of cleaner to 1 gallon of water) and soaked the mop head as directed.

Ready and optimistic, I began to mop my white kitchen tile. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the cleaner did at immediately getting rid of most trouble spots. I also pleased that the cleaner dried very quickly; I could walk over it within seconds of mopping!

I did have to scrub extra hard around my children’s chairs to get up the crusty bits of food—this is why I like the direct application of my spray bottle!—and sometimes I still had to bend over and pick away the remaining bits of food. You can see in the picture on the right that there is still some dried food around the table leg.

As I continued to mop, my kitchen definitely smelled of vinegar. The peppermint was barely noticeable and the lime was undetectable. However, it wasn’t an unpleasant smell and it was hardly perceptible within an hour. Aunt Fannie’s describes this as “smelling clean” instead of smelling like chemicals.

The cleaner worked great! It worked so well, in fact, that I only had to soak the mop head once in the cleaner; the rest went down the drain. While it was nice to have such an effective cleaner, I felt like I was wasting it. Next time I’ll know to use even less (or maybe put it in a spray bottle!).

The Bathroom Vinyl

I also tried the cleaner on our patterned bathroom vinyl floor. It cleaned fine; the same as the kitchen. However, the floor stayed wet for longer (about a minute) and the smell of vinegar in the smaller enclosed space was less forgivable.

But overall, it worked well on vinyl.

It works great!  What’s in it?

Although I was excited about the results of the cleaner, I got even more excited after seeing the ingredients!

Aunt Fannie’s is all about keeping the good bacteria present while eliminating the bad. They definitely follow through on this mission with the ingredients that they’ve chosen!

The cleaner contains two primary cleaners: white distilled vinegar and myristyl glucoside.

Vinegar is natural cleaner and disinfectant that has been used for thousands of years. Because it is acidic, it can dissolve mineral deposits from stainless steel, glass, mirrors and other smooth surfaces.  It dissolves grease and grime and is safe for those with sensitivities to use.  It also displays potent anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory activity against E coli and C albicans

Myristyl Glucoside is a mild sugar surfactant derived from plants like coconut, corn, and potatoes, and is also safe for those with sensitive skin.

The blend of oils for this particular scent includes lemon, litsea cubeba, orange, peppermint, and spearmint. Note, these are fragrant essential oils and extracts, these can cause respiratory effects and skin irritations. Since this product is a concentrate, be sure to follow the instructions for dilution and make sure the room is well ventilated when using.

That said, these oils haven’t been chosen at random.  Litsea Cubeba has known health benefits, while orange and peppermint have antibacterial and antiseptic properties.   Spearmint has been shown to kill bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses, including E. coli and Listeria.

Overall, I was super pleased with the ingredients! There are no preservatives, the surfactants are gentle, the vinegar helps preserve the good bacteria while the oils and vinegar have proven antibacterial and antiseptic properties.

Would you recommend this product?

I would absolutely recommend this product! Aunt Fannie’s mission to preserve a balanced living environment makes tons of sense. But unlike some companies who claim to keep things natural while sneaking in some harmful conventional ingredients, Aunt Fannie’s follows through with their promise.

Their ingredients are well-chosen, non-disruptive, and effective. I could see myself trying a number of Aunt Fannie’s products!

The biggest downsides to the product are it does smell strongly of vinegar and the blend of oils may cause effects for those with sensitivities.

I did have to scrub extra hard to remove tough spots and dried foods, but this was expected with the recommended mopping technique.

Well done, Aunt Fannie’s!

Originally published at Safe Household Cleaning.

Review:: Better Life Floor Cleaner

Winter brings a host of messes to sealed floors. White snow tracks turn a sour gray as they dry, salt leaves a crusty residue, and wet muddy shoes worn by little feet wander too many steps past the doormat.

Where I live, we just got our first big snowstorm, so this cleaner came at the perfect time to save me from the mess! Let’s get started!

Who is Better Life?

Better Life was the brainchild of long-time friends Tim Barklage and Kevin Tibbs. When they became parents and started reading labels more carefully, they were alarmed by all the chemicals they were using around their children and spraying on their toys. Determined to provide a better alternative, they began a company that utilized plant-derived ingredients to provide the safest, most powerful clean.

Better Life has achieved lots of success and is quickly becoming a household name. I loved their first product I tried so much that I have been slowly testing and trying all their product options.

Let’s see how well Better Life’s Floor Cleaner works!

First Impressions

The Floor Cleaner comes in a plentiful 32-ounce bottle with Better Life’s trendy colors, wit and humor on full display.

It has a squirt spout (four little holes on top instead of a spray bottle) for an easy squirt-and-mop feature—no need to drag out a bucket and measure out a cleaner.

That sounds great to me!

It only comes in a Citrus Mint scent, which is definitely noticeable but not overpowering. This might be because the cleaner comes in the squirt bottle and lands straight on the floor instead of aerating. (But more on that later)

How well does it clean?

Between muddy snowy shoes, messy eaters, and my clumsiness, my kitchen floor is always in need of a really good cleaning. And they happen to be white! I was more than ready to give this cleaner a try!

The directions say to squirt directly onto any floor type—a little goes a long way. Then use a damp mop to wipe clean. Thankfully no rinsing is required!

I appreciate the variety and versatility of this product. The label says you can use the cleaner on hardwood, tile, marble, bamboo, vinyl, laminate, and other sealed floors. Additionally, you can use a string, steam, sponge or flat mop.

For this review, I used a flat mop on white tile and patterned vinyl.

The Kitchen Floor

Ok, here we go!

My sweet messy eaters aren’t food-throwers, but you wouldn’t know it from looking under their chairs!

Dried and crushed broccoli florets, yogurt splotches, and pasta sauce litter the floor around the dinner table. Over the rest of the floor, there are muddy footprints and dozens of little spills and sticky spots.

I prepared my flat mop by dampening the cloth and then began squirting the floor cleaner. I was shocked at how quickly it came out! Even though I was trying to use only a little, I could barely control the large drops of cleaner spilling out. I felt like I was wasting cleaner and not getting an even application.

The cleaner quickly picked up many of the easy stains and stickiness but didn’t work as anticipated for the dried-on bits of food. The cleaner did better with removing tough stains if I squirted cleaner directly on the stain and left it to “soak,” but there were times I still had to bend down and scrape the crusty food off my floor.

The good news is… it worked pretty well! The scent was pleasant and it left behind a nice shine. While I wish it was a bit easier to get up the hard stains and easier to control the stream of cleaner, I could see myself using this product often.

The Bathroom Floor

Our bathroom floor is a patterned vinyl, which is great because it hides dirt well!  I was very pleased with the finishing touch—and smell—it gave to the bathroom. It smelled and looked extra clean and took no time at all!

However, a word of caution for both surfaces: Better Life is serious when they say a little goes a long way! If you use too much, the floor becomes very slippery. If you’ve accidentally sprayed furniture polish on a sealed floor, you know what I mean! Try to use as little as possible and leave time for it to dry (about 20 minutes).

Once your mop absorbs enough cleaner, you may not need to squirt anymore.

What’s in it?

So the cleaner works well! Hooray! But are the ingredients as great as Better Life claims they are?

Out of all the Better Life products I’ve tried, this one has the longest list of ingredients—and they’re mostly scents, which may cause irritation for those with sensitivities.

Decyl and lauryl glucoside are the main cleaning agents. These are non-ionic, gentle surfactants derived from corn, coconut, and palm kernel, and are friendly to those with skin irritations and allergies. Vegetable glycerin is also used as a conditioning agent.

Then begins the long list of extracts for fragrance: peppermint leaf, lemon peel, spearmint, orange peel, grapefruit, cardamom seed, lime peel, bergamot fruit, tangerine, and mandarin orange.

Wow, that’s a lot of citrus!

Now, we love companies who give full ingredient disclosure and choose natural sources for their scents. Better Life does this well, even giving explanations for their ingredients online. This is a step above many competitors who try to hide their harmful ingredients.

Unfortunately, and often forgotten, scents are often volatile compounds.  All of the scents in this cleaner chosen have a bad track record of having respiratory side effects and skin irritations.  When used in high quantities, the effects can be even more severe.  Make sure the room is well ventilated when you use this product.  And unfortunately, if you’re sensitive to fragrances, this product is probably best avoided altogether.  Don’t get me wrong, it smells amazing and the fragrances are naturally sourced.  But there’s no getting around it – this is a fragrance heavy product.

Which brings me to the synthetic preservative in this formulation – Methylisothiazolinone (MI). This is the only ingredient that irks me about Better Life, who claim to leave all harmful ingredients behind. MI has been shown countless times to be a known—and dangerous—irritant. Australia had a contact dermatitis epidemic in 2013 due to MI. Sufferers even have a Facebook group to share their experiences and receive support. Awareness is growing, but MI remains a preservative of choice in countless products.

Better Life does follow the EU requirements for the use of MI of less than 0.01%, but it’s a shame to see a great company use MI to preserve their products, especially when it goes against the mission of the company.

Do you recommend this product?

I would recommend this floor cleaner even though it has several low marks. It has great versatility, cleans most dirt and stains well, and leaves behind a pleasant shine and scent. Unfortunately, the mix of many fragrances may be an irritant to those with sensitivities.

While I wasn’t extremely pleased with how well it cleaned tough stains, the results could vary greatly depending on the mop I used. The inconsistent application due to the squirt spout could also be a factor.

The most offensive mark is the frustrating inclusion of MI. In a world of many natural preservatives, it seems very unnecessary.

Overall this is a good product, but with a few unfortunate missteps.

Originally published at Safe Household Cleaning.