Plant-based Household Cleaning Products
Biokleen Home is a brand on a mission: to convince people that they don’t have to use chemical cleaners to get the pristine homes they see in commercials. The Washington-based company maintains that its gentle yet effective plantand mineral-based products can do an even better job.
Conceived in the garage of a chemical-supply company sales executive named Jim Rimer, Biokleen comes from humble beginnings. After getting fired for his attempts to implement safety measures and educational training to help reduce the harmful health impacts of the chemicals he and his colleagues handled, Rimer decided to change the system. He mixed his first product, an all-purpose cleaner, using a metal drum and a wooden oar.
With his background in the industry, Jim understood what kinds of green cleaning products could compete with traditional toxic cleaners. Through his research, he was able to create natural alternatives that didn’t compromise effectiveness. According to managing director Barry Firth, Rimer’s original formula is “very similar” to Biokleen’s current All Purpose Concentrate Cleaner, which contains nontoxic plant-based detergents.
Over the years, Biokleen has become a trusted brand, with Jim’s daughter Cindy Rimer in charge of sales and marketing, working alongside Firth, her husband. Since its first sale in 1989, the company has earned product-quality awards from several green publications such as TreeHugger. com, and it sells almost 50 products to hundreds of independent and chain stores and online shopping sites, including Kroger and Amazon.com.
Marketing director Ted Morgan says that Biokleen makes sure its products meet three main criteria before entering the market: “The bottom line is that it has to be safe for families, pets, and the home environment; it has to use plant-based and mineral ingredients; and it has to work. When we identify an opportunity and apply the criteria, we know that we will have a successful product.”
Think of anything in your house that might need cleaning, and Biokleen probably has a solution. It offers liquids and powders for laundry and dishes, produce wash, odor and stain remover for pet lovers, drain and septic care, solvents and lubricants for the bathroom, and multi-surface cleaners. Take a look at the ingredients, and you’ll be relieved to see words you actually recognize, like lemon oil, grapefruit, and orange extract.
One of Biokleen’s most popular products lines, Bac-Out, won the 2013 Eco-Excellence Award for Child Gear Cleaners, and the Pet Products News Editors Choice award. Like all of the other Biokleen products, Bac-Out formulas do not contain phosphates, chlorine, ammonia, petroleum solvents, butyl glycol ether, brighteners, artificial colors, or artificial fragrance. They’re also free of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) priority pollutants, and materials listed by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygiene as hazardous.
According to Morgan, the Bac-Out line is unique because each product is a proprietary blend of enzyme cultures and plant extracts.
“The cultures do the heavy lifting,” he says. “They work to break down organic matter—anything from wine stains to human fluids. We use other citrus extracts that work as a cleaning vehicle.”
Biokleen’s commitment to sustainability and generally humane behavior extends beyond its product ingredients. None of its products are tested on animals. All powders are 3x concentrated, meaning that a small amount of Biokleen has the same cleaning capabilities as a lot of conventional cleaner. Less volume means smaller and fewer bottles, which cuts down on plastic and saves water.
In addition, Biokleen offsets all of the water and energy that it uses during the manufacturing process through windpower energy credits. It also participates in the Bonneville Environmental Foundation’s Water Restoration Certificate program. Through the program, Biokleen has restored 6 million gallons of freshwater resources to offset its company water use.
“We have kind of a less-is-more philosophy,” says Morgan. “The smaller the footprint we make, the more we know we are being as efficient and sustainable as possible.”