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The fact that you’re even here tells me that you want to clean your home knowing that no animals were harmed in the making of your spring clean.
How do you do it without resorting to apple cider vinegar in water?
Is there a quick way to tell that a cleaning product is cruelty-free?
In 2018, 8 million of us signed a petition appealing to the United Nations for a full ban on animal testing for cosmetic products.
While the EU is miles ahead in cruelty-free regulation, the same companies who sell in the EU may still conduct animal testing on non-EU sold cosmetics.
A shocking fact.
And as consumers, we do not stand for this.
There’s one message we shout – do better, faster.
In this article, we’ll learn about current cruelty-free legislation, how to spot if a product is cruelty-free, the various kinds of certification available and we’ll list what we consider the best cruelty-free cleaning products on the market today.
What’s in this article
Table of Contents
What is the current regulation on cruelty-free cleaning?
Regulations for household products and the protection of animals in their testing has lagged behind.
Every year, the UK Home Office publishes a summary of statistics to show the number of scientific procedures performed on living animals in Great Britain.
Here’s what it tells us:
- In 2018 there were 3.52 million procedures carried out in Great Britain which involved living animals
- The kind of testing most often completed on animals for household cleaning products are called ‘regulatory tests’ – tests which are used to prove a product is safe for humans – this accounts for around 13% of animal testing completed in 2018
- And as you drill down into the detail you will discover in 2018 there were 397 animals used in experimental procedure which were completed for the testing of household product ingredients
- Of these 397 animals, 54 were subjected to severe testing i.e. testing which caused severe pain, distress and suffering.
Is testing on animals allowed for household cleaning products?
Animal testing of cosmetic products is shouted about. Animal testing of household products is not. However, cruelty-free regulations are catching up.
But be careful with wording. For example, in 2015 the UK banned animal testing of all household products. It’s worth noting that a ban does not mean all household products are free of animal testing immediately. Usually, there’s a period of compliance. And this can be years.
However, be aware, the wording of this regulation bans 100% of animal testing only on ‘finished household products’.
Translation – this means any individual ingredient used in a household cleaning product could contain individual ingredients that have been tested on animals.
The regulation scope goes on to cover this loophole… to an extent.
“…the testing on animals of ingredients primarily intended or expected to be used in Household Products will be prohibited unless;
- The proposed testing has a regulatory requirement…
- No other method or testing strategy for obtaining the results sought, not entailing the use of a live animal, is recognized under the legislation of the European Union”
Be aware of regulatory wording; ‘ingredient primarily intended to be used in household products’ is defined as;
“An ingredient for which, at the time that testing in animals is carried out, it is intended or expected, by the entity commissioning the testing, that at least 50% of the manufactured ingredient will be or is intended to be used in Household Products.’”
Therefore if a supplier manufactures an ingredient and 49% of their sales are made to companies who manufacture household cleaning products – they can still actively test this ingredient on animals.
The devil is in the detail.
It’s time to vote with your wallet. If you demand better, faster. Choose cruelty-free cleaning products and make them the only ones you use.
In this guide, you’re going to discover 4 easy ways to find them – plus we have a list of the best cruelty-free cleaning products pre-selected for you. We’re making your cruelty free switch easy.
How do you know if a product is cruelty-free?
What does cruelty-free cleaning actually mean? Here’s the kicker – the makers of your household cleaning products can claim their products are not tested on animals – even if the individual ingredients they use are.
This means, if you see the phrase “not tested on animals” printed on the label of your cleaning products – it does not mean the product you have in your hand is 100% free from animal testing.
Instead what you want to be looking for is a cruelty-free certification.
These certifications go above and beyond. They can mean any company bearing their logo is independently assessed and externally held to rigorous standards. Standard you can trust.
The 3 cruelty-free certifications you should be looking for:
- Leaping Bunny
- Beauty Without Bunnies
- Choose Cruelty-Free
Here’s a quick look at each;
Self-branded as the ‘gold-standard’ in cruelty-free certification for personal care and household products companies.
How to tell; any Leaping Bunny approved product will be stamped with this picture
What does the leaping bunny certification mean? This product and any of the individual ingredients used in this product have not been tested on animals.
Any company carrying the leaping bunny certification must implement a rigorous supplier monitoring system. Any company signed up for leaping bunny certification may be required to submit their monitoring system for independent auditing.
Where does it apply? International.
Beauty without bunnies (PETA’s)
This certification is the real deal. Companies certified by beauty without bunnies have a company-wide, global ban on animal testing. This means ALL of their products must be 100% cruelty-free.
How to tell; any Beauty Without Bunnies approved product will be stamped with this picture;
However – note – this certification is upheld by honesty.
“Company representatives interested in having their company’s name added to our cruelty-free list(s) must complete a short questionnaire and sign a statement of assurance verifying that they do not conduct, commission, or pay for any tests on animals for ingredients, formulations, or finished products and that they pledge not to do so in the future.”
While the Leaping Bunny logo which dictates that a supplier monitoring system must be set up and that this may be subject to an independent audit, Beauty Without Bunnies takes a more pragmatic approach –
“Companies are putting their integrity on the line when they respond to consumers. A company that has publicly announced an end to tests on animals and states in writing that it doesn’t test on animals would face a public relations disaster and potential lawsuits if it was caught lying.”
Where does it apply? International.
This logo certification goes one step further – a company bearing the Choose Cruelty-Free logo must either have halted all animal testing for at least 5 years prior or prove they and their suppliers have never participated in animal testing.
How to tell; any Choose Cruelty-Free approved product will be stamped with this picture;
As a cruelty-free certification, Choose Cruelty-Free is rigorous. The certification is often lost when smaller cruelty-free companies are brought out by larger companies who may still use ingredients that have been tested on animals.
Where does it apply? Australian based standard, however, is also international.
Which cleaning products are cruelty-free?
Want to vote with your wallet? Here’s our list of best cruelty-free cleaning products – we’ve got you covered.
Best cruelty-free laundry detergent
Our winner – Better Life Laundry Detergent
Certified by; Leaping bunny & PETA
A gentle biodegrade formula that’s cruelty-free too – plus cleans as good as traditional detergent. What more could you ask for? The Better Life formula is also 100% fragrance-free meaning it’s great for even the most sensitive of skin types.
|Better Life Laundry Detergent is on sale now|
|Better Life have done it again. This laundry detergent cleans as well as your regular detergent, but has a gentle biodegradable formulation that has been put together with a great deal of expertise. Outstanding.|
Best cruelty-free bathroom and kitchen cleaner
Our winner – ATTITUDE Kitchen Cleaner
Certified by; PETA
A streamline of just 7 ingredients including water. It’s simple and it works. Using natural antiseptic extracts of tea tree oil plus alcohol – your surfaces will be clean and sanitary.
|ATTITUDE Kitchen Cleaner is on sale now|
|ATTITUDE Kitchen Cleaner did the job I wanted it to do - clean the kitchen - and it did it very well. And it achieves this using a formulation chosen with a great deal of thought and attention. This one is a winner! Absolutely outstanding.|
Best cruelty-free all-purpose cleaner
Our winner – ATTITUDE All-Purpose Cleaner
Certified by; PETA
Attitude has done it again. A similar formula to their kitchen cleaner but with 1 less active ingredient i.e. their kitchen cleaner is best for a tougher stain.
|ATTITUDE All Purpose Cleaner is on sale now|
|Attitude All-Purpose Cleaner doesn't exaggerate when it says it can tackle multiple surfaces and it cleared a broad selection of stains and dirt from my home.|
Best cruelty-free dish soap
Our winner – AspenClean Natural Dish Soap
Certified by; PETA & leaping bunny
Smells great and washes great. With a combination of plant-based detergent actives which are also sensitive skin-friendly – we can’t recommend this dish soap highly enough.
|AspenClean Natural Dish Soap is on sale now|
|Quite outstanding. This dish soap smells great, washes great and has a low irritation potential for all but the most sensitive of skin.|
Best cruelty-free glass, window and mirror cleaner
Certified by; PETA, Biokleen also certified by leaping bunny
No more smudges! Both of these cruelty-free window and mirror cleaners use a combination of actives. First up there’s a solvent (either alcohol or vinegar) to cut through greasy smudge marks, next there are skin-friendly detergent actives for a sparkling clean.
|Attitude Window and Mirror Cleaner is on sale now|
|Attitude Window & Mirror Cleaner rescued my home's glass surfaces as well as or even better than any other brand-name, a commercial product that I've ever used, and my examination of the company and chemical formula behind this cleaner left me feeling pretty darn good.|
|Biokleen Glass Cleaner is on sale now|
|We can't recommend Biokleen Glass Cleaner highly enough. As well as cleaning exceptionally well (as well as the leading ammonia-based products according to our tests), it has been manufactured using renewable energy sources and is made exclusively with plant and mineral-based biodegradable ingredients. What else could you look for in a glass cleaner?|
Note – Attitude is fragrance-free, Biokleen is scented.
Best cruelty-free floor cleaner
Our winner – Aunt Fannie’s Vinegar Wash Floor Cleaner
Certified by; PETA & leaping bunny
A truly unique take on natural, cruelty-free cleaning, using vinegar, a plant-based detergent and multiple fragrant plant oils. If you’re looking for a floor cleaner that’s effective and natural – this is it.
|Aunt Fannie's Vinegar Wash Floor Cleaner is on sale now|
|Aunt Fannie's blew us away with their unique take on natural cleaning. By using ingredients that preserve good bacteria while eliminating the bad, Aunt Fannie's helps maintain a balanced living environment.|
Best cruelty-free dishwasher detergents
- Nellies dishwasher powder
- Puracy Dishwasher Packs
- <Better Life Naturally Crumb Crushing Dishwasher Gel
Certified by; PETA & leaping bunny
A certified dishwasher detergent for any and all of your needs. Whether you enjoy using powder, dishwasher packs or gel, we have you covered. All 3 of these formulas use a combination of cleaning actives. For example, there’s a detergent (like you’d find in shower gel) then there’s also enzymes for example protease – these act to break down specific stains.
Combinations of cleaning actives will 99% of the time give you better cleaning performance. This couldn’t be truer for all of the above.
|Nellies dishwasher powder is on sale now|
|There is so much to love about this product, from its clever branding and eco-friendly packaging to its no-nonsense formulation. At what equates to about 23 cents per load, it's well worth the price for some truly amazing cleaning power!|
|Puracy Dishwasher Packs is on sale now|
|Puracy Natural Dishwasher Detergent Packs are top quality. They've been formulated with vision and expertise. They clean well. They are gentle on you and your family. And they won't break the bank.|
|Better Life Naturally Crumb Crushing Dishwasher Gel is on sale now|
|Better Life Naturally Crumb Crushing Dishwasher Gel has been formulated with a great deal of care and expertise. It's fully plant-based, is gentle on you, your home and environment and actually works.|
The Best Cruelty-Free Cleaning Products
While we love every one of our winners, there’s far more choice available should you wish to look for an alternative.
Here are the best non-toxic, gentlest, cruelty-free cleaning products on the market today.
Better Life have done it again. This laundry detergent cleans as well as your regular detergent, but has a gentle biodegradable formulation that has been put together with a great deal of expertise.
The fragrance-free Baby Laundry Detergent from Attitude is a great option for new parents and their babies, moms and dads-to-be, and those who simply want a non-toxic option for their family and anyone with sensitive skin.
The few ingredients used in the formula are derived from natural sources, biodegradable, and appear safe and non-toxic. Attitude has taken a great deal of care and effort to come up with this formulation. The fact it washes so well is incredible considering how few ingredients are in there.
We definitely recommend giving it a try. Even if you don't have babies!
If you're on a mission to wash your clothes with a natural laundry detergent free from toxins and chemicals, then Buncha Farmers Country Fresh Laundry Detergent is just what you're looking for! This laundry soap boasts a short list of natural ingredients, and it leaves clothes clean and smelling fresh. It contains no fragrances and no harsh chemicals, so you can rest assured you are cleaning your family's clothes with a safe, natural product.
BioPuro baby laundry detergent is an eco-conscious sensitive skin friendly mixture of great washing ingredients with low to no irritancy. It's an easy to use liquid, in-drum formula also with natural wheat proteins to help add extra soothing power.
Excellent washing performance, good stain removal, high skin sensitivity.
This non-biological laundry powder from Molly's Suds is a great product, formulated with a great deal of care and thought.
It's a product that we definitely recommend, although those with highly sensitive skin may check that you don't react with sodium carbonate and peppermint oil. As long as you have no reason to be concerned about these two ingredients, we think you should definitely give this product a try. It cleans well, the ingredients are plant based, it comes in a concentrated formula and Molly's Suds laundry powder proves itself to be a cost-effective solution.
A superbly eco-friendly laundry liquid based on a kind to skin non-ionic surfactant called coco glucoside. A skin friendly laundry detergent with added softening qualities and in-wash lemon-scent. It's the lemon scent that sensitive skin sufferers need to be aware of - if you're sensitive to fragrances you'll probably want to look elsewhere.
A gentle, effective, fragrance free laundry detergent made by a company with a conscience.
Anyone looking for a safe yet effective laundry detergent should look no further.
If you want to make a fantastic choice for the environment and have slightly sensitive skin, we'd highly recommend Sodasan Comfort Sensitive washing powder.
It contains nothing particularly harsh, its cruelty-free, it's plastic free, the ingredients are biodegradable and it performs exceptionally well.
The only mystery is why they are so coy about the formulation. It's fantastic once you actually find it!
Sonnett Laundry Liquid has been formulated with a great deal of care and attention. If you suffer from contact dermatitis, this liquid should be on your short-list of laundry detergents to try.
Even if you're not sensitive to detergents, the environmentally-responsible formulation and lack of carcinogens make the Sonett laundry liquid an attractive purchase. Of course, a laundry detergent must do a good job of actually cleaning laundry, which we're happy to say this one does.
This does come with a caveat - it doesn't clean microfibres. This can be hugely annoying if you like cycling or are of an athletic disposition. For most of us, the annoyance is limited.
Nellies All-Natural Laundry Soda is a non-toxic powder detergent with a fun vintage design and packaging.
This powder is more concentrated, more cost-effective, and more eco-friendly than liquid detergent packaged in plastic.
It washes really well and there's only 4 ingredients!
Two of these ingredients may irritate if left on clothing so just make sure you rinse fully after washing.
The fragrance-free laundry powder from Grab Green is certainly a better option for individuals and families wanting a safer, non-harming and non-toxic detergent. For those who don't have sensitive skin or strong reactions to cleaning products and detergents, it should be just fine and not cause any irritation whatsoever. But for those with sensitive skin or who tend to react to personal care products, you may want to use caution when trying this product. If you want to give it a try, first test it out on a towel or rag and wear it on the skin for a bit to see if it causes any reactions. If you don't want to take any chances, look for a simpler non-toxic laundry detergent, like Molly's Suds, that has a far fewer chance of causing any sort of reaction.
If you suffer from skin irritation associated with dyes, fragrances, and other ingredients in most traditional laundry detergents, Presto! Laundry Detergent Powder should be on your short-list. Unlike many other more 'natural' laundry detergents, Presto! Is also affordable and easy to acquire - it's an Amazon product.
There are one or two less-than-ideal ingredients in the powder, but seeing as how the powder is safer than most in terms of both the environment and human health, this one is worth a try. It cleans well, and with very little powder required per load, a canister goes a long way.
Savvy Green Laundry Detergent is a top quality, high performing, well-formulated detergent. Just be careful when handling the ingredients, keep it away from kids, use the recommended amount, and make sure your clothes are fully rinsed.
I just wish they used cardboard instead of plastic packaging!
Charlie's Soap Liquid Laundry is a safe and eco-friendly alternative to conventional laundry detergents on the market that contain harmful sulfates, fragrances, and brighteners.
Made with an incredible 3 ingredients, it is formulated for working on all types of stains, and on both soft silks and hardy rags. Made for all washing machines, the Liquid Laundry leaves clothes feeling and smelling clean.
While it is a generally safe and non-toxic product, we recommend very sensitive skin users take caution due to the sodium carbonate and C12-15 Pareth-2 surfactant used in the formula.
Ecoegg's Laundry Egg is a fantastic revolution in affordable, natural, sensitive skin friendly washing detergent. Approved by the National Eczema Foundation and Allergy UK our analysis of Ecoegg's ingredients supports the Ecoegg Laundry Egg as being great for sensitive, allergic and reactive skin types.
However, it should be noted a separate stain remover is a necessity for heavily soiled clothing - read our full review for details.
Dropps Unscented Laundry Detergent Pods are great for people who are environmentally-conscious. The use of biodegradable, plant-based ingredients plus 100% recyclable packaging makes this product an earth-friendly choice.
The detergent cleans gently, yet effectively and the unscented, dye-free option also makes it a great option for users with sensitive skin.
I absolutely love the premise behind this company and the man who began it. This detergent washes well and smells great. The ingredients are all plant-based and biodegradable. While it's gentle on the environment, there are one or two questionable surfactants, and this particular edition isn't fragrance-free.
If you're not sensitive to fragrances, I highly recommend checking this product out for yourself. If not just to reduce your carbon footprint and waste, than for the pure fun and effectiveness of the product.
Just make sure to rinse your clothes properly!
Puracy's natural laundry detergent is a great step towards using natural, environmentally conscious products in your home. This detergent is uniquely formulated with many plant-based cleansers, and it does an amazing job of cleaning the dirtiest of laundry loads. However, the product does contain some harsh synthetic chemicals as well, which conflict with the company's 'free and clear' promise.
ECOS Laundry Detergent isn't a one-size-fits-all green laundry solution. It'll produce great visual results with certain fabrics, but it won't impress your guests when they're presented with rough bath towels.
With one or two tweaks, it could be a great detergent. They need to improve its washing ability as well as replace one or two preservatives to be truly considered a great product.
But, if you want to take a small step towards achieving a greener lifestyle, feel free to road test it yourself.
Seventh Generation are a company with fine principles. This fragrance-free laundry liquid certainly cleaned well. Even heavily soiled and stained clothes come out looking fresh. In addition, we appreciate the lack of fragrances and dyes in the formula and the company's transparency.
It's the inclusion of known allergens and potential carcinogens should make you think twice before buying. If you suffer from skin irritation, there are enough potential problems here to prompt looking elsewhere.
Mrs Meyers Laundry Detergent smells good, it washes well and despite being slightly more expensive than supermarket detergents represents great value for money.
Unfortunately,it contains two preservatives that can have such an extreme allergic reaction in sufferers I'm at a loss to explain their inclusion. Especially considering how much care and attention they applied in choosing the other ingredients.
How We Chose The Winners
Left staring at a shelf of the cleaning products in the world – how do you decide? When many companies do not disclose ingredients – how do you choose? Imagine looking at 5 different bottles of tomato ketchup without an ingredients list. All look red. All tell you they’re tomato ketchup and all promise you to be extra tasty.
This is the challenge in choosing the best cruelty-free cleaning products.
Here at Safe Household Cleaning, we use science to help make this decision with you.
We review only products that will disclose their ingredients list.
We then dig into the safety of each and every active ingredient used in a formula. Why is it there? What benefits does it have? Is it safe? Is it gentle? Can children be near it? Are you risking your health when using it?
We pair this most important fact up with in-use performance.
Safety first. Cleaning power a very close second.
Thousands of hour’s worth of research tells us you do not have to compromise on either. We’re here to help make sure you don’t have to.