Of late, I have been consciously trying to switch most of my household cleaning products over to those made by eco-friendly companies. After several month's effort, I've become so unused to "chemical smell" that on the rare occasion I do use something full of chemicals, I find the harsh aroma harder to endure than I once did. The difference is really notable. And while at one point in the past, I would have assumed that in order to go 'natural' I would have to lower my expectations for the creativity/enjoyability factor, the new line of household products by Seventh Generation says otherwise.
Seventh Generation has updated their line of products; there are seven scents, and they all sound quite tempting: White Flower & Bergamot Citrus, Blue Eucalyptus & Lavender, Lemongrass & Clementine Zest, Lavender Floral & Mint, Emerald Cypress & Fir, Green Mandarin & Leaf, and Ruby Grapefruit & Herb. Their website maintains that they use only 'whole and pure plant and flower essences' with aromatherapeutic effects. I like the innovation behind their concept as well — the underlying vision is that of a tree, with the fragrances each corresponding to one of seven parts: roots, core, wood, seed, leaf, flower and fruit.
Two of my new staples are the White Flower & Bergamot and the Blue Eucalyptus & Lavender liquid laundry detergents. The White Flower & Bergamot is lovely and sheer, with "bergamot, petitgrain sur fleurs, blood orange and nutmeg CO2". The petitgrain sur fleurs (oil distilled from both the leaves and flowers of the citrus aurantium) is very generous, giving the fragrance a predominantly light citrus floral effect that is soothing and uplifting — the primary aromatherapeutic properties of neroli. Subtle hints of bergamot add a little depth rounded out by the warmth and spice of a very minimal nutmeg. It's such a delightful scent for a detergent that I have on occasion wondered if I could use it for a bubble bath. I find it quite feminine and love it for linens, delicates, and other more refined laundry loads. The detergent does a fine job cleaning, although with most Seventh Generation products I find I need to use a bit more than I would with a mainstream product.
For loads that call for something more robust, I switch to the Blue Eucalyptus & Lavender detergent. This one contains "A blend of lavender vera, lavandin, eucalyptus dives (peppermint gum), eucalyptus radiata, eucalyptus polybractea (blue mallee), and pine". It combines the calming and centering effects of lavender with the fresh pungency of eucalyptus and pine, leaving an overall sense of cleanliness and well-being in the laundry room. I like using it for socks and towels and anything else that might benefit from the disinfectant properties of these oils. Neither of these detergent scents linger much on clothing after it's been through the dryer (perhaps adding the matching fabric softeners would strengthen the scent), but I actually prefer it that way. ($14.39 for 100 fl. oz)
In the kitchen, I have come to appreciate the Lemongrass & Clementine Zest dishwashing liquid. This not-so-humbly scented dishwashing liquid contains "clementine, bergamot, blood orange, lemongrass, and elemi". It's very subtle; I can't smell much unless I'm right in the middle of doing the dishes standing above the steamy sink, and what I do get from it is the stalky green-ness of lemongrass combined with the particular peppery warmth of elemi. It's friendly and inviting, and easy to appreciate for not competing with the smell of cooking in the kitchen, nor adding any imposing synthetic overtones to the air around it.
The Lavender Floral & Mint version of the same product is also unusually scented for a dishwashing liquid, boasting "lime, lavender, ylang ylang complete, peppermint, and spearmint." The primary impression I get from this one is the unexpected combination of spearmint and ylang ylang. The lavender adds a bit of texture, and possibly the lime a tiny bit of zest, but it is primarily a floral mint with the characteristic sweet opluence of ylang ylang. It is as subtle as the other scent, quite easy to miss unless you are close up, but I still find the deep richness of the ylang ylang surprising in this context. That's not to say it's bad, but just surprising every time I catch it! ($2.99 for 25 fl.oz.)
Finally, in the bathroom, the Emerald Cypress & Fir Toilet Cleaner (balsam fir, lime and emerald cypress) is an unabashedly 'green' scent, with the strong refreshing lime enhanced by the slightly resinous wood notes of the fir and cypress. It's clean and cooling, and works very well. ($5.39 for 32 fl. oz)
I have yet to try anything in their Green Mandarin & Leaf range (which sounds lovely with green mandarin, petitgrain and spearmint), or in the Ruby Grapefruit & Herb (grapefruit, geranium and basil) but I am willing to wager they are as good as the others. Clearly, I am really thrilled about this line! All the products are non-toxic and biodegradable and, with this added addition of beautiful whole plant oils and essences in creative and enjoyable blends, this is fast becoming my favorite way to be eco-friendly in the house.