By Barbara Kessler

Cleaning our bathroom presents a special challenge with its white shower tile, white tub and white floor. What were we thinking? On the other hand, dirt can’t hide and it’s a great place to test cleaners. Here are our favorites:


After rolling up our sleeves, we pulled out the all-purpose cleaners. We really appreciated Shaklee’s H2 Organic Super Cleaning Concentrate because it worked and was both environmentally and cost efficient — $11.95 for a 16 oz. bottle that makes 48 gallons of cleaner. Shaklee’s concentrate can be diluted and mixed in sturdy, pre-labeled bottles ($7.95 for three) designed for three cleaning dilutions—one for windows; one for multipurpose use and one for degreasing (which we sent to the kitchen).clean-shaklee-basich2-3.jpg

The dilution directions gave us a laugh. We used an absurdly small amount of cleaner, just two drops, to mix the window solution. The all purpose solution required a ¼ tsp. plus 16 oz. of water, leaving us to wonder if the company’s profitability plans call for us to either spill several bottles or become extremely loyal repeat customers — probably the later.

The glass cleaner left the mirrors streak less; the all-purpose dilution got the tub suspiciously shiny and white. Rust stains required some scrubbing. The pleasing light scent (from the cleaning solution itself — not added fragrance) was a bonus.

How do we know that the germs were gone? We don’t know for sure. But there are few guarantees on the market short of using bleach at your own peril or buying registered disinfectants, which also include onerous ingredients. Shaklee doesn’t reveal the ingredients in its green cleaners, but promises that they are nontoxic, hypoallergenic and biodegradable and do not contain offending ingredients found in some other cleaners, such as phenol, cresol, lye, petroleum distillates, ammonia and phosphoric acid. So we felt pretty good about their green credentials.

(The company also sells germ wipes that promise to kill salmonella and e coli germs, but at 30 wipes per plastic container, the packaging is on a fast track to the recycle bin. A Shaklee representative says the company is developing a refill package for the wipes.)

Next clean-planetallpurpose.gifon our list of hits, Planet All Purpose Spray Cleaner. Created by a green cleaning company founded in 1989 by a fisherman worried about pollution, this multi-use cleaner is a “Certified Biodegradable Product,” which according to the Consumers Union is one of the few “highly meaningful” labels on cleaners. It means that Scientific Certification Systems has verified that the product will break down into carbon dioxide, water and basic minerals and that 70 percent of the degradation will occur within 28 days. The Planet cleaner also is hypo-allergenic, fragrance- and dye-free and contains no phosphates, making it safe for septic systems and non-toxic to aquatic life. That’s a mouthful, but it’s worth mentioning because it does set this product apart.

Planet’s All Purpose cleans quite well. It was a little unsettling at first, working with something that has no scent or color. For some reason, we’re emotionally attached to bathroom cleanser aromas. But this is hardly a problem, considering the environmental relief afforded by this no-additives policy. Planet’s All Purpose is not suited for mirrors. It left a filmy coating, just like the label said it would. But true to the label’s suggestion, it’s an excellent oven cleaner. It turned the encrusted corona inside our oven into a wipe-away jelly.

One nit with Planet, this product is not concentrated and not available in larger containers that reduce packaging. The company cites price sensitivity and its status as a small-company and has posted an essay on this topic on its website.

Another concentrate worth mentioning is Biokleen’s All Purpose Cleaner. This super thick cleaner is a cross-over by a brand that’s been in commercial use for many years. A bonus: With grapefruit seed and orange peel extract, it smells delicious, but its not too strong.