Are Concentrated Cleaning Products Better for the Earth?

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, paper, ink and plastic, then less material 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

Remove the water from a cleaning product or detergent, and the product actually works better in most cases. With concentrates, you clean more clothes with less detergent. The bottles take up less space and are easier to handle. Many new concentrated detergents are being formulated for greater removal of stains and grease. However, it's important to read the labels and use the suggested amount. You might 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, read the directions carefully.

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

In 2007, Walmart and its subsidiaries made the decision to sell only 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 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 bottles or other types of 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. Simply 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:

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 writes for

Updated July 18, 2018.

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