Welcome to Safe Household Cleaning, where our mission is to review and promote household cleaning products that are safer for your home, your family, and your environment.
All the products we review have a fully disclosed ingredient list from the manufacturer, so you can know exactly what is going into your home and surroundings. Without ingredient transparency, there’s no way to know what sort of chemicals you’re using for cleaning.
Along with the ingredients, we also test how well the product actually cleans. Let’s face it, its pointless buying a cleaning product that doesn’t clean.
In addition, we look into the companies making the products. We believe it’s important to understand the philosophy behind a product, test its performance, and carefully examine the safety and purpose of each ingredient.
This review is for Seventh Generation Free & Clear Glass & Natural Surface Cleaner. The Free & Clear range is Seventh Generation’s sensitive skin range and are typically clear of any fragrances and ingredients prone to cause contact dermatitis.
In this review, you’ll learn about the performance of Seventh Generation’s Free and Clear Glass & Surface Natural Cleaner and the safety and function of each ingredient.
About Seventh Generation
Seventh Generation, Inc., was founded in Burlington, Vermont, in 1988 by Alan Newman and Jeffrey Hollender. Unilever acquired the company in 2016. The company’s mission, to “inspire a consumer revolution that nurtures the health of the next seven generations,” is based on an Iroquois Native American concept. As a B corporation, Seventh Generation is “legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment.”
Seventh Generation makes laundry products, dish detergents, hand washes, disinfecting and household cleaners, baby care, feminine care, and household paper and trash products. They have obtained several impressive credentials and certifications for some of their product lines, including:
- EPA Safer Choice
- USDA Certified Biobased Product
- PETA Happy Bunny (Not tested on animals, no animal ingredients)
The company is a popular and widely known entity in the green and safe cleaners market recently but recently Unilever, a multinational group with diverse holdings that are not 100% green, acquired them.
Here’s what Seventh Generation promises on the packaging:
- Streak-free shine
- A Clean You Can Trust
- Safe for use around kids and pets
- No dyes or fragrances
The claims sound nice, but you should never go off package promises alone. Unlike drugs, cosmetics, or food products, companies do not need approval to bring a new cleaning ingredient or product formula to market or to make a claim on the product packaging.
As long as the company doesn’t include prohibited chemicals from the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), they don’t have to worry about regulations.
The bottle is a 32 fluid ounce (946 ml) spray top. The sprayer has two positions: “mist” and “off.” The bottle is recyclable and made from 100% recycled plastic.
Seventh Generation’s Glass & Surface Natural Cleaner has no noticeable odor, which is a good thing in my world. If I wanted perfume I’d buy Dior.
The spray comes out uniformly as a mist with good coverage, meaning it only takes one pump of the sprayer to get enough product on your glass or another surface in need of cleaning.
To use the spray you hold the sprayer 6-8 inches from the surface, spray, and wipe. It’s septic safe.
Here are the recommended surfaces:
- Plate glass
- Porcelain-coated steel
- Stainless steel
Here are surfaces that are “safe for use with caution” (test on an inconspicuous area first): acrylic, ceramic, concrete, Corian, fiberglass, Formica, granite laminate flooring, marble, porcelain, satin nickel, travertine, vinyl sheet flooring, and wood-based oil coatings.
Real-World Performance Review
I love the idea of an effective glass cleaner that doubles as a multi-surface cleaner. If you’re cleaning windows or other glass, and you notice another surface in need of cleaning, it’s convenient.
First I put the glass and surface cleaner to work cleaning the bathroom mirror. One spray and two passes with paper towels, and I was satisfied with the job. The mirror was shiny once more, and no small fibers remained from the paper towels.
After I cleaned the bathroom mirror it made sense to use my relatively clean paper towel and the spray I already had in hand to clean the lavatory counter and the sink. One spray, one pass, done. The counter and sink were shiny and clean.
Next, I chose a difficult task: the back windshield of my car, which was covered in mud, salt, and pollen.
It took me several sprays and passes with paper towels, but as you can see, the windshield got clear and shiny again. Afterward, I tested the spray on the car seats and console, with good results.
Then I tried the Seventh Generation Glass & Surface cleaner on a dusty piano.
As you can see, it took the piano from dusty to shiny and clean. I am impressed with the performance of this spray on wood.
Finally, I used the spray on a dirty marble kitchen counter.
Once again the surface came clean. Once again I was pleased with the performance and versatility of the spray.
The overall performance of the product was excellent on glass as well as on other surfaces. The mild surfactants in the cleaning spray work great. I don’t see a need for a more potent glass spray, and it even impressed me moonlighting in the role of a general purpose surface cleaner.
So what’s inside the bottle?
If you care about the environmental and health impacts of your cleaning products, the ingredients themselves are just as essential as the product’s performance.
We like simple ingredients lists. Usually, a simple ingredients list means a company has nothing to hide. Here’s what’s in Seventh Generation Free & Clear Glass & Surface Natural Cleaner:
- Caprylyl/Myristyl Glucoside are gentle, effective, plant-based nonionic surfactants
- Sodium Gluconate is an effective chelating agent often used to clean metal and glass bottles
- Benzisothiazolinone and Methylisothiazolinone are synthetic preservatives linked to outbreaks of contact dermatitis
The best way I can summarize the ingredients list for this “natural” Glass, and Surface cleaner is: it’s a Jekyll/Hyde situation.
On the one hand, there’s no fragrance, and the surfactants do the job adequately. I have no problem with sodium gluconate.
On the other hand, for some reason, Seventh Generation included two of the nastiest synthetic preservatives out there – benzisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone.
The Problem With Isothiazolinones
These synthetic preservatives caused an epidemic of contact dermatitis, an outbreak considered unprecedented by many. The ingredient has the dubious honor of being named Contact Allergen of the Year in 2013. It’s also a volatile compound and even airborne exposure can cause severe allergic reactions.
Perhaps most ominously, isothiazolinones are weakly sensitizing allergens, meaning that if you don’t have an allergy to them yet, you could potentially become sensitive to them through exposure over time.
Dermatologists estimate that Allergic Contact Dermatitis (ACD) affects a staggering 72 million Americans each year.
Not everyone is sensitive to isothiazolinones like benzisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone – I’m not, thankfully – but I can’t imagine why Seventh Generation would include these ingredients in a so-called “Free & Clear” range.
It’s almost embarrassing.
Do I Recommend It?
The performance of Seventh Generation Glass & Surface Natural Cleaner is excellent. As good as any glass cleaner I’ve used before. So, in theory, I should be shouting from the rooftops about this product, but I cannot recommend it wholeheartedly.
The inclusion of isothiazolinones doesn’t lend itself to “A Clean You Can Trust,” nor is it necessarily “Safe For Use Around Kids and Pets.”
It deserves a passing grade for high performance and ingredient disclosure, but Seventh Generation should put more effort into delivering on their claims to receive top marks.
If you are choosing between this glass and surface cleaner and a regular supermarket product, Seventh Generation spray is the superior choice. However, there are far better choices out there.