Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Why Ingredients Detergents Matter and My Review of Branch Basics System (and a giveaway)

The Owners of Branch Basics who recently reformulated and relaunched their non-toxic cleaning brand:  but does it work?

I am still always slightly taken a back when I look at a client's laundry room and find a .... well an arsenal, of different products. Products with strong fragrances that linger well beyond the moment you clean and with suspiciously absent ingredient lists- what is in there?

As a category, cleaning products are one of the biggest sources of chemical exposure in our homes. So very ironic, considering that we trust these products to clean our homes, and yet many of them actually leave behind some pretty potentially ‘dirty’ (ie: harmful ) chemicals.

What do I use to clean my home with?

 Truthfully, very few products. I use vinegar and water for almost everything. The only products I actually purchase are Bon Amie, (for my scrubbing needs), dish soap (for plates and beyond) and a laundry detergent (which I am constantly trying different ones out ). That’s pretty much it.

I don’t often try new cleaning products because I really like the safety and purity of vinegar and water. It’s edible, cleans well, I dont have to stress if the kids drink it and it is inexpensive.

When Branch Basics contacted me, however, I decided to try them out. I liked the concept of their system (more on that later), had heard a good review from a respected blogger and they offer a laundry detergent which I do always like to switch around.

After researching their ingredients, I agreed to try the products out but was clear that I made no promises on what I would write about them- if I felt they weren’t great I would write just that.

But first, let’s talk about ingredients: why do ingredients matter?

Your exposure to the ingredients in any particular cleaning product are not limited to the moment you use the product and clean. A floor cleaner’s ingredients will remain on the floors that your young children will lay on or crawl on. The glass cleaner that leaves behind a scent will give off chemicals that will decrease the quality of your indoor air quality. And the lingering fumes of the mold and scum removing product you use in your shower will be absorbed by your entire body when you shower or take a bath (especially if you like showering in hot- pore opening water). Similarly, what you use to wash your clothes matters because conventional detergents leave behind residue on your clothings. Chemicals used to “fight stains’ and “add that fresh scent” or ‘soften towels’ are then absorbed by you through your skin.

Companies that make cleaning products, including laundry detergents, do not have to disclose their ingredients. The problem is that what you dont know can hurt you, can cause allergies and can even accumulate and lead to long term heath effects. Non disclosure of ingredients should always be a BIG red alert that something is off. Companies with nothing to hide are always proud to show their all natural and safe ingredient list. IF a company is hiding something there is probably a reason for it.

This is a lesson that the owners of Branch Basics learned the hard way.

They actually launched Branch Basics originally based on a pre-made formula. The original manufacturer and inventor of that premade formula assured them it was a non-toxic and natural formula and it was so efficient that they decided to launch Branch Basics with that recipe. After launching, knowledgable customers started asking question, and long story short, the formulator confirmed that the cleaning concentrate actually contained synthetic surfactants- something which they had not disclosed before and something that went against everything the company had claimed.

Branch Basics, faced with the harsh reality that they had- pretty much misled their customers by promising a completely non-toxic formula that actually contained surfactants decided to close. The owners, still felt committed to launching a non-toxic cleaning line and decided to move forward with what was essentially the long process of reformulating. They worked with chemists and went through over 100 reformulations until they came to the product they have today- this time they are the owners of the formula and disclose every single ingredient to the public.

Fast forward a couple of years. I was contacted by Branch Basics about a month ago and asked if they could send me a sample to try. I did some digging and read up on their history , along with their (new formulation's) full ingredient list and good score on by the Environmental Working Groups Cleaners Database (the concentrate and boost both receive a '1' score (very good) ). All of this made me agree to give it a try.

Today Branch Basics is not just for laundry. It is a cleaning system; the main concept being that one basic product (the Concentrate) can be mixed with water in different concentrations to create cleaners for your entire house: laundry, bathroom, kitchen, glass, wood floors, stains. It should replace all the cleaning products in your house.

What ingredients are in it?

Their new formulation is all plant-derived and all-natural

Purified Water,

Coco Glucoside (a vegetal foaming agent (surfactant) derived from coconut oil, combined with glucoses (sugars).

Chamomilla Recutita (Chamomile) Flower Extract (certified organic)

Decyl Glucoside (Sugar-Based Cleanser),

Sodium Citrate (Food-Grade Emulsifier),

Lauryl Glucoside (Sugar-Based Cleanser),

Sodium Bicarbonate (Food-Grade Baking Soda),

Sodium Phytate (Plant-Based Antioxidant)

*certified organic

Does it work?

I felt confidant it was safe, but would it work?

The company sent me their starter kit and I tried it over two weeks around the house.

Step one
The first step is mixing all the different 'cleaners'. The started kit arrives with three empty spray bottles (for an all purpose cleaner, a bathroom cleaner ad a glass cleaner), one Foaming Wash bottle and one Laundry bottle (yes they are plastic, I would prefer glass- and perhaps you could use your own glass sprays bottles at home and skip the starter kit? You would have to reach out to the company and ask for a 'recipe' of sorts for you to know the water to concentrate ratio for your glass spray bottles). They were so easy to fill that my 5 year old did it on his own (with my supervision) ; literally you fill the bottle with water until the marked line and then fill with the concentrate and then top pff with water.

Glass Cleaner
I cleaner windows and glass stair panels and the cleaner worked as well as our usual vinegar mixture. We personally use a soft rag in lieu of paper towel and would recommend as it absorbs more than paper towel and is, of course, more eco friendly!

Bathroom Cleaner
Our go to bathroom cleaner is Bon Ami powder and vinegar (sometimes we use dishsoap for soap scum). I had our housekeeper - who is super picky about what she uses to clean and has even stricter standards than I do to clean the boys and master bathroom and we were both pleasantly surprised. The cleaners did well. The company suggests using the oxygen boost of a scrub is needed but she did not need it this week .

Laundry and Oxygen Boost
We started washing a couple of loads of normal soiled clothes and towels and the laundry system worked well. One afternoon my son arrived with VERY dirty sweatpants - with some impressive mud stains in the knee area. I quickly decided to try out the BB laundry system- I sprinkled some oxygen boost and saturated the area with their all purpose cleaner and let it sit for under 10 minutes. Then into the washing machine it went. The results were pretty amazing.

Overall, we were very happy with how Branch Basics preformed. I love the fact that you mix your own individual cleaners- I feel like, ultimately, you are using less packaging and, if you want or need more 'strength' you could probably just increase the percentage of concentrate in your mixture.  


Want to give Branch Basics a try? 
I am hosting a giveaway over at my Instagram account @nontoxicmunchkin .  Head over to enter to win your own Branch Basic Starter Kit! Giveaway starts Friday 02/22/2019 and ends on Monday 02/25/2019 at 12 noon PST. Winner will be announced via Instagram stories.  Offer valid only in the continental USA.

No luck (or are you reading this after the giveaway closed?) You can still try our Branch Basics and get $10 off by clicking here

Tried & Tested Non-Toxic Cleaning Guide


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