Thursday, March 12, 2009

Arm & Hammer Essentials Cleaner & Degreaser | Natural Cleaning Product Review

Arm & Hammer Essentials Cleaner & Degreaser Natural Cleaning Product Review
The Cleaner & Degreaser is just one of a set of 3 color-coded cleaners in the recently released Essentials Line of Arm & Hammer's, the well-known brand name of baking soda. Great product packaging design with cleaner concentrate in a small bottle sold in packs of 2 for approximately 4.00 each is equal 2 regular-sized cleaner spray bottles. This saves on storage, transportation costs, and plastic--reducing their plastic packaging use by 93% according to Arm & Hammer.

Arm & Hammer's Essentials Cleaner & Degreaser is a versatile, natural cleaning product; an all-purpose cleaner good for multiple surfaces and usage in kitchens, bathrooms, floors, and garbage cans and as they state on their packaging they are "harnessing the power of Nature....and [are] sensible for the environment."

Arm & Hammer, around since before the American Civil War, has a long history of recycling and working towards eco-friendly business practices. They state on their website that they have been using recycled cardboard containers since 1907! They also were the producers of the first phosphate-free detergent and the first corporate sponsors of Earth Day, both in 1970.

In the News
Currently, though Church & Dwight Co., Inc., the owner of the Arm & Hammer brand name is being sued by the Earthjustice, a non-profit, environmental, public interest law firm dedicated to protecting the earth and to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment. The lawsuit is brought against Church & Dwight Co., Inc. and some of the other major manufacturers of cleaning products, who have refused to abide by or ignored a New York State law which requires manufacturers to report their ingredients. According to Earthjustice, "independent studies into chemicals contained in cleaning products continue to find health effects ranging from nerve damage to hormone disruption. But ingredient disclosure requirements are virtually non-existent in the United States." This litigation could have a nationwide effect.

The package states that Arm & Hammer's Essentials Cleaner & Degreaser "contains powerful plant-based cleaners" derived from coconut and palm kernel oil. Plant-derived can be very good for the planet, usually implying biodegradability and naturalness, but we need to read between the lines. Lots of chemical changes can occur through the manufacturing process and chemical derivatives of plants can be toxic in themselves, both before and after various chemical changes.


To protect a company's patented formula, the ingredients in household cleaners do not need to be spelled out in most States, except as ratified, but unenforced, in that New York State law, consequently, on the Material Safety Data Sheet or MSDS for Arm & Hammer's Essentials Cleaner & Degreaser the ingredients are listed as merely "proprietary".

Note from me: I am much more comfortable knowing the ingredients in detail of the household, natural cleaning products that I use, so that I can make informed choices on the safety of specific ingredients. I want to see any product that consumers eat, drink, breath, or slather on their bodies to be transparent by listing their ingredients!

MSDSOn the MSDS sheet for this product there are warnings that "toxic fumes [can occur if] mixed with products containing chlorine and other sanitizing ingredients", namely "acids or ammonia". In other words, do not mix this cleaner with products containing chlorine bleach, ammonia, or acids like, vinegar.

My Natural Cleaning Experience Using Arm & Hammer's Essentials Cleaner & DegreaserIt is a very powerful all-purpose cleaner and degreaser! I tried it on an old plate that had sat outside all winter under a plant, this cleaner did quick work of the dried on dirt and grime and some rust. It also works well against grease.

For my experience, that's the good news, the bad is that I think the fumes from this cleaner are very strong and unpleasant! I would rather use a natural cleaning product that needs a little more of my "arm power" and smells "healthy" than avoid fumes that may be toxic for me!


Thumbs Up for the recycled cardboard packaging and for the ingenious bottle system to cut down on plastic. And thumbs up for seeking to have a plant-based cleaner....but.....
Thumbs Down for the strong fumes, the unpleasant aroma, and for not divulging their ingredients. It has a strong yellow color, but no lemon scent--where's the yellow color from?? You know it has to be something artificial dye it yellow, and I'd rather not inhale that, when I am trying to clean with a natural cleaning product!


  1. It is really sad to know that manufacturers do not have to state all the ingredients. As a concerned mother of two, i like to know what i am exposing my family to and what i can avoid exposing them too.

    I am using basic household ingredients to make my own cleaning products , which is really easy to do, and in the end it also saves you money.

    Great article, by the way!

  2. Angela: I feel the same way! I feel like "How DARE they not tell me what I'm putting on my body and my children's bodies!" It is a health concern!! I fully support Earthjustice's suit in New York State trying to get legislation passed and enforced to make cleaning labels transparent. See my article about it at this link:

    Take Care, GreenKeen aka Pam :)

  3. Pam continues:

    That article link is:

    Check it out! :)

  4. Good job with all your suite101 articles Pamela.

  5. I have been using the Arm & Hammer Essentials Degreaser for the past year and have "never" found anything comparable to its ease of cleaning almost anything. I have to differ on the "fumes" comment - I detect no disagreeable odor.

  6. where can I buy essentials multi surface concentrate cartridges

  7. Alvia:
    I bought it for reviewing at my local grocery store chain (Weiss) but I also saw it for a 12 package for a bulk price on Amazon (see link on sidebar). Hope that helps, plus you could email Arm & Hammer.

  8. It is not user-friendly. Usage does not specify if we should leave product on surface for a certain amount of time before wiping off or if we should wipe off product immediately with damp cloth right after spraying.

  9. i love arm and hammer essentials they smell clean and fresh I have my own house cleaning business ans specialize in green cleaning my customers rave how wonderful there homes smell unfortunatly I cannot find them any longer HELP

  10. Hi, Anonymous:
    You can find the 2 pack refill for @$8.50 at Amazon. See the Amazon link at the top of my side bar. Glad you clean green! :)