When choosing cleaners for my health-based cleaning service, I go with the least-toxic products that work. Among these, I prefer products made primarily with plant-derived ingredients. Mostly, because these products often work. And to promote healthier environments, indoors and out.
Plant-derived versus what?
There are differences between plant-derived, plant-based, animal-based, mineral-based and synthetic ingredients. Here’s how I understand and compare each, as a non-chemist.
- Plant-derived. Derived from plants, and unmodified by petrochemicals.
- Plant-based. Derived from plants. May be modified with petrochemicals.
- Mineral-based. Made with naturally-occuring minerals. Examples are scouring ingredients like baking soda, limestone and feldspar.
- Animal-based. Made with the fat of animals like cattle, sheep or horses.
- Synthetic. Made partly or purely with petrochemicals, which are made from petroleum or natural gas.
Why I prefer plant-derived ingredients
- Plant-derived ingredients work at least as well as ingredients from animals or petrochemicals, for most of my cleaning. Not only on the job. But at home, too.
- The plant world is a renewable resource. The petroleum and fossil world is not.
- Producing plants creates a lower carbon footprint than producing animals or petrochemicals. Every bit helps!
- I’m thriving on a mostly plant-based diet, with an occasional pasture-raised egg thrown in. So using plant-derived cleaning ingredients for cleaning is a natural. 🙂
- Producing plants is more compassionate. If I needed animal ingredients to satisfy my customers, or to have a healthy diet, I’d use them in a heartbeat. But neither is the case.
All the products I use are free of animal testing. The commercially formulated products are certified by Leaping Bunny, PETA, or both. If you can have a safe product without cruelty, why go any other way?
Products and brands I use
Here are the products I use most, and the types of ingredients they contain.
- I use Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap for almost everything. According to the company, “No animal products or petrol derivatives are used to make the castile soaps. The castile soaps are entirely vegan, and made with organic vegetable oils”. Read the company’s ingredients statement.
- Spectrum Organic Distilled White Vinegar comes in handy for rinsing baking soda. Made from beets.
- Baking soda, my go-to scouring powder, is made from trona, a naturally-occuring mineral. I’m including baking soda here because I often use it with castile soap. I use any brand that’s handy. Discover my simple tricks that make baking soda actually work!
- Bon Ami Powder Cleanser is my back-up for scouring, when I need something stronger than baking soda. Made with “plant-based cleaning agents”. Added are limestone and feldspar, from naturally-occurring minerals.
- Ecos Free & Clear Liquid Laundry Detergent is my go-to laundry product. Contains “coconut-based” ingredients I’ll be researching further. I’ll also be looking into soap nuts.
And here are the products I use sometimes.
- 3% Hydrogen peroxide is my go-to disinfectant. Made from sulfuric acid and ammonia, which I’ll be researching more.
- Seventh Generation Disinfecting Multi-Surface Cleaner disinfects when peroxide can’t be used. Made with plant-derived ingredients.
- Seventh Generation Free & Clear Dish Liquid, for serious grease. Made with plant-derived and plant-based ingredients. Read the company’s ingredient glossary.
- Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds, for extra-serious grease. Made with plant-derived ingredients, and at least one synthetic.
Yours FREE— How to Make Baking Soda and Vinegar Actually Work! When you sign up for my email list. You can hit “unsubscribe” at any time.
Have you tried cleaners made with plant-derived ingredients? How are they working for you?
And if you’re a chemist or biochemist, got better definitions than the ones I’ve used here?