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iQ Cleaning Products: The Sweet Spot of Green, Convenient & Cheap?

| Friday July 23rd, 2010 | 3 Comments

In recent years, greener cleaning products have become increasingly popular. Whether it’s long time torch bearer Seventh Generation getting mainstream acceptance or big brands like Clorox with Green Works it’s clear that there is an enduring interest in a broad section of the population.

But there’s a missed opportunity here. In reality, the major ingredient of cleaning products is water. What if there was a way to ship cleaning products without all that water?

Sure, there’s long been the route of concentrated cleaners such as Dr. Bronner’s and Simple Green, but you need a degree in mathematics to get the dilution levels right.

Canadian based iQ cleaning products looks to have hit the sweet spot of sustainability, convenience, and price with a simple idea:Package everything but the water in a 3 1/2” REFill (Reduced Environmental Footprint) cylinder. Fill the original spray bottle with tap water. Slide the REFill in the top of the spray bottle, it mixes with the water, and you’ve got a bottle of cleaner.

The clincher here to reaching beyond the committed green minded consumer is that iQ passes shipping cost savings onto consumers. This sidesteps the most common objection people have about green products: their price. In this one small move, iQ has the potential to reach price/value focused consumers that would have paid no attention to a green option such as this before.

For those that do care about the sustainable aspects, the impact is substantial: 95% reduction in plastic use, and according to iQ, a carbon footprint reduction of over 70% compared with conventional cleaners. The concentrate in the REFill cartridges is plant and other natural sources based (though I question what “natural” signifies, given the questionable use of the term elsewhere.)

However, in a nod to a more mainstream audience, the products are scented, the language on the site sounding a bit evasive as to what the scents are made of, saying, “…each fragrance is carefully screened for environmental impact and safety like all iQ ingredients.” The vivid colors of the cleaners seem to be of artificial hues, and the site doesn’t say otherwise.

Still, these products are a big step forward to reducing the impact of something which many people may overlook, not aware of the collective negative impact their choices in this arena may have.

Readers: Have you used iQ products? Where else are you seeing an effective meeting of sustainability and mainstream acceptance?

Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations about, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media.


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  • Stephanie

    I found IQ cleaners at my local health food store and thought I'd try the bathroom and kitchen cleaner. Both of them are really effective at doing what they are supposed to do, especially the kitchen. Normally, I actively avoid scented products- I can't stand that sickly sweet smell but these ones are ok. What I really love, is I'm buying cleaner not water and of course the limited waste! This is a really smart product. I'm impressed.

  • Ian

    This is good news but this product is not new. Otto cosmetic had this product on the market approx. 15 years ago. Its difficult to undersatnd how iQ is patented when the Otto product is the same and 15 years old and works.

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  • mrs._lioness

    I really wanted to like this product, since it only had the cartridge and not a huge spray bottle to purchase every time. I bought the all purpose cleaner and the window cleaner. While they work just fine, they STINK! They smell so chemically it is disgusting! You would think a product trying to appeal to those who want more natural products would make natural smelling products. I will use up what I have bought, but I won’t be buying it ever again. Really too bad, I had high hopes for this product :(