Eco-friendly, plastic-free cleaning products from Seep in packaging against a white tiled wall

Plastic-free cleaning products from Seep (affiliate) are compostable or easily recycled

Sustainability in the home cleaning industry is not really a new topic as the first eco-cleaning brands appeared back in the 1970s. However, the past few years, thanks in large part to the Pandemic, have seen an enormous surge in interest in eco-friendly home cleaning products.

Pandemic Fuels Home Cleaning Industry

As we all sought to keep our homes clean and hygienic sales of household cleaning products have soared. Spending more time at home and working from home has also led to an increased need for a clean and tidy space in which to live and work productively.

This interest in home cleaning has been further fuelled by the likes of celebrity ‘cleanfluencers’ Mrs Hinch, Courtney Cox and Kris Jenner championing the home cleaning industry and the advantages for our mental health and wellbeing of living in a clean home.

Eco-friendly, plastic-free cleaning products from Seep in a Joseph Joseph kitchen caddy

The Eco Cleaning Starter Kit (affiliate)

Environmental Concerns Boost Plastic-Free Cleaning Products

The increased consumer engagement and the elevated spending on home cleaning products brought about by the Pandemic may be starting to wane, but concerns about the environment and sustainability are stepping in to fill the void. We are seeing consumer behaviour and attitude changes as people realise the impact of their purchasing decisions

The Impact of Non-Recyclable Plastic Sponges

As we realise how damaging our cleaning equipment is, it’s easy to see the need for eco-friendly alternatives. Some of the statistics are just mind-blowing. For example, every minute of every day we bin 1,000 kitchen sponges, the majority of which are virgin plastic.

A recent survey and found that on average people in the UK change their sponges at least once every month, with some changing them after every use. A quick calculation puts this at roughly 600 million sponges being thrown into landfill in the UK each year and that’s only from domestic use.

These non-recyclable plastic sponges are made with polyurethane and do not biodegrade. Sponges that promise anti-bacterial properties are also often coated in toxic chemicals which pollute our water and are deadly to marine life.

Eco-friendly, plastic-free cleaning products from Seep behind a sink, in front of a window

The Eco Cleaning Starter Kit from Seep (affiliate)

Microplastics in our Blood

Then there are the microplastics that are shed from these sponges which are often too small to be removed by the filtration system. They end up in our rivers and oceans and are then eaten by fish and other aquatic animals. These microplastics have now been discovered in the human bloodstream which is quite frankly petrifying.

And that is just the plastic sponges and doesn’t take into account plastic brushes or all the various synthetic cloths that are being used and disposed of. It really is no wonder that more people are waking up to the urgent need to adopt more eco-friendly, plastic-free cleaning products.

Consumers Want More Plastic-Free Cleaning Products

According to the UK Household Cleaning Equipment Market Report 2022, 55% of UK consumers agree that there should be more sustainable cleaning equipment products available. Furthermore, 35% of UK consumers agree that it is acceptable for sustainable cleaning equipment to be more expensive than regular equipment. Consumers are now actively seeking out brands that are highly engaged in climate and sustainability initiatives.

A close up of a plastic-free sponge scourer by Seep held in a hand wearing natural rubber gloves

Eco Sponge With Scourer (4 Pack Of Sponges) (affiliate)

Seep Offers a Plastic-Free & Biodegradable Household Green Cleaning Range

This is where brands like Seep (affiliate) come in. Seep is a female-owned B-Corp that supplies plastic-free and biodegradable household green cleaning equipment and is “on a mission to clean up the way we clean up”.

Seep Founder Laura Harnett had become frustrated with the fact that whilst eco-friendly cleaning liquids were readily available, there seemed to be a distinct lack of plastic-free, non-polluting cleaning equipment with which to apply them.

Laura, who had grown tired of waiting for someone else to solve the problem, decided she needed to be part of the solution and not part of the pollution. She set up Seep, which stands for Sustainable Everyday Essential Products, to offer products that are designed to look good in your home and be better for the planet.

The products, which include sponges, scourers, dish brushes, rubber gloves, washing up cloths, tea towels and bin bags, are designed to be plastic-free, compostable or easily recycled. They are also designed to provide a quality clean.

A copper scourer by Seep being used to clean a large steel saucepan. The hand wears natural rubber gloves by Seep

Recyclable Copper Scourer (3 Pack) (affiliate)

Are Plastic-Free Cleaning Products Any Good?

Now, this was one of my main concerns when I agreed to work with Seep to try out their plastic-free cleaning products. Will they clean as well as synthetic products? My other concern was of course the cost. But since we got a dishwasher, we don’t wash up by hand very much so the increased cost of such products is less of a worry these days as they will last a lot longer.

Eco Cleaning Starter Kit

I was sent the Eco Cleaning Starter Kit (affiliate), which is basically a plastic-free washing-up bundle. It is quite pricey at £32 but what you get for your money is really good value. Let’s take a look at what is included in the bundle.

1 Pack of 4 Sponge Scourers

A packet of natural cellulose sponges with loofah scourer on a white work top with white tiles behind.

Eco Sponge With Scourer (4 Pack Of Sponges) (affiliate)

Firstly, these sponge scourers are a hell of a lot more attractive than those hideous-looking yellow and green plastic sponges and they are much nicer to touch. They are made from sustainably sourced and renewable cellulose wood pulp and raw loofah fibre. Both cellulose and loofah fibre are natural materials making these sponges fully compostable and biodegradable as they break down into harmless organic waste.

They contain no harmful toxins and because they are plastic-free cleaning products, they won’t shed any harmful microplastics.

There are also practical benefits to using these sponge scourers. Not only are they non-scratch which is important for all our non-stick pans, but these sponges also require less washing-up liquid as they retain more of the soap.

When I first started using the sponge scourers, I did worry that they weren’t as durable as synthetic sponges, but my worries were quickly dismissed. They can stand up to heavy scrubbing and do last for a month as Seep claims. I’ve been using mine for over a month now and it is still going strong.

1 Pack of 3 All-Purpose Cloths

A hand wearing natural rubber gloves by seep uses an all purpose cloth by Seep to wipe down a black granite sink

Eco Washing Up Cloth (affiliate)

These cloths are made from a blend of loofah and wood pulp fibres and a trace amount (1.5%) of polyester which is needed to bind the fibres. Sadly this means that the cloths are not compostable or fully free of plastic. However, Seep says that they will be discontinuing this product and replacing it with a more sustainable alternative once they have found one.

They are great for everyday cleaning around the house and I really like that they can be popped in the washing machine at 30c once they get dirty. Because they are white, they do tend to get dirty quite quickly but they are much easier to keep clean than the poly-cotton cloths I was using previously. I’m not yet sure how often they can be washed in the machine but so far after two washes, they are still holding up well even if they are a little discoloured.

1 Pair of Natural Rubber Gloves

A pair of natural rubber gloves from Seep on a white worktop with white tiles behind

Eco Rubber Gloves (affiliate)

These come in medium or large and are made with fair trade, sustainably sourced rubber from responsibly managed plantations in Sri Lanka. The lining is 100% natural cotton flock and when I was using them my hands felt a lot less sweaty than when wearing other gloves.

I have really small hands so these were a little on the large side for me and kept rolling down. However, I don’t wear rubber gloves often so not a huge inconvenience for me.

1 Pack of 3 Copper Scourers

3 recyclable copper scourers from Seep on a white worktop with white tiles behind

Recyclable Copper Scourer (3 Pack) (affiliate)

Firstly, how much prettier are these than the steel ones? I do love copper as it has the added advantage of being naturally anti-bacterial. Also, as it is a non-ferrous metal, it doesn’t rust, so no dirty brown puddles on the worktop. They are also endlessly recyclable. I need to check if my local council will take copper in my recycling box, otherwise, I will need to take them to the local recycling centre to dispose of them.

At first, I thought they were a little more flimsy than the steel scourers I am used to, but they can be reshaped quite easily and have enough flexibility to shape them into what you need them to be to get the job done. They are great at tackling those hard-to-clean, crusted-on stains that the sponge scourer can’t handle. They cannot be used on non-stick pans though.

1 Bamboo Washing-Up Brush

A bamboo washing up brush by Seep is used to clean a blue Denby plate over a black granite sink

Bamboo Dish Brush (affiliate)

I think this is by far my favourite product of them all. The washing-up brush is made from sustainably sourced bamboo with bristles made from sisal and it is finished with biodegradable varnish. Not only does it look much better than equivalent plastic brushes, it is a lot nicer to use.

 It feels really durable and hard-wearing and actually, it cleans so much better than the plastic brush I was using. According to Seep, it may start to show signs of mould after six months but I’m hoping that because I rarely wash by hand it will last a lot longer than that.

A final bonus when investing in these plastic-free home cleaning products is that they all come in sustainably sourced, recyclable packaging using natural inks.

Plastic-free cleaning products from Seep used to wash a blue Denby plate over a black granite sink

Eco Sponge With Scourer (4 Pack Of Sponges) (affiliate)

Plastic-Free Cleaning Products: The Verdict? 

Now I definitely do not class myself as any kind of eco-warrior. I subscribe to the approach that millions of people doing zero waste imperfectly is still going to have a massive impact. So for me, it’s all about making those small incremental changes and staying consistent. Things like no longer using single-use plastics where possible, taking a water bottle with me wherever I go, taking homemade lunch to work in plastic-free lunch boxes bags and accessories, and now using plastic-free cleaning products.

This feels like progress to me and whilst it’s not world-changing, maybe if we all make these tiny steps we could make massive change together.

I realise that these plastic-free household cleaning products are more expensive than plastic alternatives so they may not be within budget for everyone, but if you are able to pay slightly more for something that does less harm to the planet and the people and animals who live on it, please do.

The experience of using eco-friendly, natural cleaning products was a really positive one for me, and because I mostly use a dishwasher, I anticipate that these products will last as long, if not longer than the plastic alternatives I was using before. The performance is comparable if not better and my conscience feels a lot better knowing that these products can either be composted at home or recycled.