Tested: Seventh Generation’s Green Bathroom Cleaner

I’m unquestionably biased against environmentally friendly cleaners. In my mind, there’s no real replacement for good ol’ bleach when needing a heavy-duty cleaner.

At the same time, I’m more than willing to be proven wrong. Cleaning with bleach-based cleaners smells, especially in enclosed spaces like the bathroom. If I had something that worked just as well , I’d quickly switch products.

Enter Seventh Generation’s Disinfecting Bathroom Cleaner. The company has been making green cleaning products since 1988, and I wanted its most potent product. This bathroom cleaner uses thymol, an extract of thyme oil, to disinfect.

The first time I used the cleaner, my results weren’t very satisfactory. Bleach-based cleaning products cut through fat residue on tubs and sinks almost instantly, and the Seventh Generation cleaner just wasn’t performing the same way. Even when I scrubbed hard, there was still a film on the kitchen sink I was cleaning.

Before (top) and after.

I didn’t want to give up on the cleaner after just one test, so I gave it an even tougher challenge – my tub. I had intentionally avoided cleaning my tub for the past few months to let it build up a nice level of scum. There was a ring around the edge, and pink stains (or was that mold?) were spreading.

I marked an area to test in masking tape, sprayed the cleaner and waited.

Before (top) and after.

The directions say to let the cleaner sit and soak for 10 minutes to disinfect. After the alloted time, I returned to the tub and scrubbed, and to my surprise, the cleaner worked! I did have to scrub harder than I would with a bleach-based cleaner, but all the grime came off.

Emboldened, I sprayed the rest of the tub, let it sit again, and scrubbed. Once again, I had success. The tub, once various shades of black, brown and scary pink, had returned to a uniform shade of white.

There was no question the Seventh Generation Bathroom Cleaner worked – but was it worth it? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons:

Con: It’s notably more expensive. A bottle of cleaner costs $.50-1.00 more than your typical bleach-based cleaner, and you’re getting six fewer ounces (26 ounces vs. 32 ounces). Plus, it takes much more cleaner per cleaning job compared to traditional products.

Con: More elbow grease is necessary. I had to scrub harder to get my tub clean. Was it impossible? Of course not. Was there a difference? Yes. With traditional cleaners you can practically see the dirt melt away, and this didn’t happen with the Seventh Generation cleaner. But with enough scrubbing I did get the same results.

Pro: The smell isn’t overwhelming. This is an important point for me, especially when working in small spaces. I hate how I’ll be scrubbing the tub and can barely breath because of the noxious bleach fumes. I don’t like how the smell lingers, either. When I sprayed the Seventh Generation cleaner it smelled pleasantly of thyme, but not in an overwhelming or artificial way. Best of all, once I finished cleaning and had rinsed the tub, the smell was gone.

Pro: The cleaner is easier on your hands. I always wear gloves when working with bleach-based cleaners because otherwise they’ll destroy my hands and make them stink. I cleaned my tub without gloves, just to see if the Seventh Generation cleaner would behave differently. It did. My hands didn’t dry out and burn the same way, and best of all, they didn’t smell at all (even right after I finished cleaning).

Pro: It’s better for the environment, and the bathroom. This is the no-brainer. The Seventh Generation cleaner is made primarily from plant extracts. It won’t harm hard surfaces (like sinks, tubs or counters).

The Disinfecting Bathroom Cleaner is more expensive and requires more scrubbing effort when compared to a traditional bleach-based cleaner. Even so, the pros outweigh the cons. I’ll keep a bleach-based cleaner on hand for truly heavy-duty jobs, but for everyday cleaning, I’m switching to Seventh Generation.

  • Daniel

    Good to know.

  • randeegf

    Great recommendation!  Thanks for doing the hard work of figuring this out.

  • Linda M.

    The before and after pictures of your tub inspired me to try Seventh Generation Bathroom Cleaner.  The fragrance of the cleaner is very pleasant.  Fragrance is important to me; I enjoy a fresh smell after I have worked hard to clean a bathroom.  Simple Green, for instance, just doesn’t do it for me.  One thing to note about the Seventh Generation product is that you need time.  As you wrote, Manly Housekeeper, it is important to let the product sit for 10 minutes before you begin to scrub and rinse.  Spray the tub and then move on to cleaning the mirrors, emptying the trash, and cleaning the toilet before giving the tub a good scrub.  I also continue to be very happy with Bar Keepers Friend for soap scum and kitchen sink cleaning. 

  • Deb

    In the last picture it looks like you have marble shower tiles… What product are you using on them, given your very hard water and the soap scum that generally follows it? Help!

  • Char

    Good to know–I am currently using up a variety of cleaners I have bought over the years. Cannot believe I have so many hanging around. After that I will have decided to only have eco-friendly cleaners on hand (straight bleach for beastly jobs). I also anticipate extra closet space once these cleaners are gone. Because of the expense, I will be muddling through DIY eco-friendly cleaners. Have you used/tested any DIY eco-friendly cleaners? What are your thoughts?

  • http://www.facebook.com/jasi.lee.7 Jasi Lee

    It’s crazy but I put dish soap in an icing squeeze bottle and use it to clean everything. I use an eco friendlier version. I still use windex though. =(

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