Earth Day Test Lab: Best Green Toilet Cleaners

By Kate Arcieri

Many eco-friendly renovations call for a hefty outlay of green. But there’s an easy, quick change you can make at home to get your house healthier and please the planet. Even if you buy other eco-friendly cleaners, chances are the bathroom’s one spot where you still pull out the big guns. And who can blame you for not wanting to risk using a cleaner—no matter how altruistic—that might wimp out when faced with eau de toilette. A bumper crop of natural toilet cleaners, however, means you no longer have pick between green and clean.

We were skeptical about these shiny happy products doing the hard time our toilets require. But their benefits made them worth a try. For starters, while you still don’t want to use these cleaners around kids or pets, their low-toxicity formulas with slim-to-no acids and caustic chemicals make them safer to have around. And of course they’re gentler on the environment, free of petrochemicals and hazardous solvents, making them readily biodegradable and limiting negative effects on rivers, streams, plants and wildlife. That’s especially key for a product you are literally pouring down the drain.

Clorox Greenworks Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner is the most widely available of the green cleaners and the first entry into the category from a large mainstream-cleaner brand—meaning you can stock up on the stuff right at the grocer’s. Greenworks looks just like a traditional toilet bowl cleaner; it’s still got that same angled neck you count on to get under the rim, and the cleaner itself is a thick, more pleasant-smelling twin of the cleaner you use now. And it works the same too—no small feat when you’re made of 99 percent natural ingredients.

The inventive folks over at Method also take a stab at a kindler gentler toilet-bowl cleaner with Lil’ Bowl Blue which uses lactic acid from corn, potatoes and sugar to do a nice job of cleaning that bowl. It smells like none of these ingredients though, just pleasantly pure and fresh. And like all Method products the packaging’s hip and adorable.

The biggest surprise in the pack? Biokleen’s Soy Toilet Bowl Cleaner. Our test lab served up some pretty punishing rust stains, but Biokleen tackled them all. The directions suggest that the lotion-like cleaner need not sit before flushing. For most stains this was true, but for a few of our hardier marks we found that an hour or so of sitting turned Biokleen into a green machine, leaving behind sparking porcelain. The bonus: the whole bathroom smelled fresh and grapefruit-y. It’s tough to believe the stuff’s not really body lotion.

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