Are Concentrated Cleaning Products Better for the Earth?

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Jun 04, 2011 | Cris Carl

netean/stock.xchngThere are few downsides to using concentrated cleaning products, especially if you want to reduce your carbon footprint. The use of concentrated products is generally a money saver, and the environmental effects are even greater.

The benefits of concentrated products boil down to a mathematical equation: If the product is manufactured with less water, less paper, ink and plastic, less ends up in landfills and more space is freed up in shipping. More product can be shipped at a time to distributors and less fuel is needed to move the product. Less fuel being used means fewer emissions in the atmosphere and less greenhouse gas being produced. If you purchase concentrated cleaning products they will last longer, saving you trips to the grocery store or wholesale club.

Other benefits of concentrated detergents

If you remove the water from a cleaning product or detergent, the product actually works better in most cases. With concentrates, you can clean more clothes with less detergent. The bottles take up less space and are easier to handle and carry.  Many new concentrated detergents are being formulated for greater removal of various types of stains and grease. It is important to read the labels and use the suggested amount. You may think you are good at “eyeballing” a measurement, but you may be wasting enough detergent for a load or two of laundry over the life of the bottle. Concentrated detergents also come in varying degrees of concentrate such as 2X or 3X. Again, it is important to read the directions for use carefully.

Effects of one company’s decision to only sell concentrated detergents

In 2007, Wal-Mart and its subsidiaries made the decision to only sell concentrated liquid detergent. To illustrate the environmental savings related to the purchase and sale of concentrated detergent alone, the company states on their website that in three years they saved “more than 80 million pounds of plastic resin, preserved more than 430 gallons of water, and reduced more than 125 million pounds of cardboard.”

Buying in bulk

When you purchase concentrated cleaning products in bulk, you also reduce negative effects on the environment. Wholesale clubs have inherently promoted the use of concentrated cleaning products. If we can make ourselves side-step a bit of laziness, we can refill those shampoo, or all-purpose cleaner bottles -- or add water to a concentrated product. You will need to invest in spray or other types of bottles or dispensers, but you will cut way back on plastics being used and ending up in landfills, oceans and other bodies of water. Some time ago, I bought a pretty glass bottle soap dispenser and a gallon jug of hand soap. It took me years to use up the entire jug of soap.

Some products are being developed as “super” concentrates.  One example is G-Clean concentrated products, which come in gallon-sized collapsible bags. Just add water and you end up with 21 gallons of cleaning product and very little waste.  Just a few more concentrated products you can easily purchase include: Soaps, glass cleaner, floor/carpet cleaner and fabric softener.

We live in a society that thrives on the concept of “bigger is better,” but when it comes to concentrated products less truly is more, especially for the environment.

Cris Carl is a Networx writer. Read more articles or get help with your home projects on

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