Goodbye, Windex: There’s a New $2 Chic (Nontoxic!) Cleaner in Town
It really works, too.
Updated Sep 29, 2021 7:08 AM
As I stared at my reflection in the dirty vanity mirror, I realized it wasn’t dirty from lack of scrubbing. The problem was ineffective glass cleaners. What I wanted: A nontoxic window and mirror cleaner that actually worked. What I got (accustomed to): A beautifully packaged bottle that left smoky streaks and debris behind, making it near impossible to see my own reflection. What I needed: A product that actually works without harming me or Mother Earth, preferably in a sleek, inoffensive bottle.
A useful window cleaner should be a fairly easy ask, right? It has a simple task, after all. It doesn’t need to kill bathroom bacteria or smell great; nope, the job description is in the title, and yet… no dice.
I’ve tried them all: The Goop-approved one that has pretty packaging but leaves a hazy film on my mirror, the Environmental Working Group–approved one that smells like straight-up vinegar and doesn’t clean very well. Unfortunately, none of them can compete with the unnaturally hued, yet effective Windex—Why is it so blue?! Do we even want to know?—despite the fact that the EWG gives it a D rating, citing its ingredients as harmful to the planet and your respiratory system. Still its popularity has persisted over the years. I have vivid memories of helping my father clean mirrors with blue-tinted Windex and day-old newspapers, a method he learned as a young boy. Surely, there must be another way.
Cue Blueland. The pitch email sold it as the cleaner that works *better* than Windex yet somehow costs less and is both nontoxic and better for Mother Earth. How? Why now? Could this be the one? I’ve been burned so many times before.
To start, the ombre-tinted, shatterproof acrylic bottle is both reusable and chic. I filled it to the top with filtered water (fun fact: Conventional cleaning sprays are usually about 90 percent water) and dropped in a single Alka-Seltzer-esque tablet. It fizzed for a few minutes, as the formula penetrated the water. And that was it. I had myself a window and mirror cleaner from a single tablet, a few liters of water, and a reusable “forever bottle.” Testing, testing, one, two, three (and more) mirrors, and… it worked. It worked really well—Windex-level well. It’s not surprising considering that in independent lab tests, Blueland’s version beat out Windex and Method glass cleaners in all three categories—cleaning, streaking, and smearing. Blueland is psyched about how well it works, but it seems to be even more passionate about the accessible price and eliminating single-use plastic bottles. The bottles are designed to last a lifetime, without leaching or breaking down. “We hope that these bottles will help shift the consumption mindset from single-use to reuse, from cleaning products to other categories as well,” says founder Sarah Paiji Yoo. In fact, the forever bottles are the first and only cleaning bottle to be certified platinum by Cradle 2 Cradle, a comprehensive product assessment program for human and planet health. The chemical-free tablets even come packaged in recyclable and compostable paper. The Clean Up Kit, which includes all three forever bottles with tablets (window/mirrors, multipurpose, and bathroom), costs $29 to purchase. That’s a comparatively low price, but it’s still a financial commitment. But once you’ve run through an entire bottle, you’ll simply order refill tablets, which come in plastic-free packaging for $2 a tablet.
Setting the price at $2 a pop is intentional for the brand. “Eco options have traditionally been viewed as more expensive, and we wanted to make sure that we could provide an option that was cheaper than conventional products, making it easy to make the better choice,” says Paiji Yoo. “From the very beginning, we set out to build a company and products that could reach as many people as possible, as that is how we truly believe we can maximize our environmental impact.”
This forever-bottle concept with concentrated formulas that you mix at home is an emerging field that eliminates the need for single-use plastics and shelf-stable, chemical cleaners. Here are three other options we’re big fans of at the moment.
This organic set includes four glass bottles with countertop, glass/mirror, tile, and floor concentrates. It showcases the power of essential oils to produce powerful results for every surface in your home. The tile and floor cleaners are particularly great.
Featuring a glass, tub/tile, and all-purpose cleaner, this kit from Grove Collaborative has glass bottles and plant-derived formulations. The kit also includes a microfiber cleaning cloth that can be reused hundreds of times, helping you eliminate excessive paper towel usage.
Plain and simple, this kit works. It includes a bathroom spray with a slight eucalyptus mint scent that can tackle bacteria, the award-winning (at least in my competition) unscented window cleaner, and a lemon-scented multipurpose spray that can be used on countertops and floors.
Here’s to spring-cleaning: This $75 Floor Cleaner Sold Out in Two Hours 10 Cleaning Hacks We Learned From Professional Housekeepers These Cleaning Supplies Look So Nice That You’ll Actually Want to Clean