Reviewing products by the Australian eco-friendly cleaning company
More and more of us are using our buying-power as a declaration of the need for a more eco-friendly economy. From vegan swaps to using more public transport, to bamboo and recycled loo paper and growing our own plants, every part of our lives can be transformed to express our belief in the need for planet to be placed over profit. How we keep our homes clean is no exception. There is a growing variety of environmentally products to choose from, with each brand making varied claims about why they are good for the planet. One of the newer contenders in this fight for a green home is Koala Eco.
Founded in 2017 by Jessica Bragdon and Paul Davidson, the company declares its mission as being ‘To create safe, powerful, plant-based products using natural, sustainable ingredients, while aiding people’s wellbeing by connecting them to nature.’ Their products champion the cleaning power of natural, often Australian native, ingredients. They pride their products on being ‘Vegan, all natural, environmentally friendly, no synthetic fragrance, effective, anti-fungal, disinfectant, no dyes, no masking agents, no SLS, no phosphates’. They also use 100% recycled and recyclable materials for their bottles. So there’s a lot to recommend them! It’s also appealing to be able to support a small, Australian company, rather than giants like Method or Ecover.
But do the products actually work? I’ve tried out a few of their different offerings, so let’s take a look.
A generic kitchen spray is probably the cleaning product I use most often. Every day, after cooking supper, the surfaces get a spray, and usually several times across the day as well, so I’m keen to find a product that doesn’t harm the environment, but can still cut it when it comes to keeping my kitchen clean and safe. That doesn’t necessarily sound like the easiest ask, but this Koala Eco spray seems to tick the boxes. It has a lovely bright scent from Lemon myrtle and mandarin, and claims, like its more mass-market rivals, to kill 99.9% of germs. This is in spite of only having six ingredients, two of which are the plant essential oils. Basically an alcohol, a vinegar, a surfactant and a solubiliser (these are two of the basic building blocks of many cleaning solutions), there’s really not much to this product, but it seems to do the job. It’s does smear a little bit – you need to put a bit of elbow grease in if you want to get shiny surfaces really spotless – but for everyday tasks it works a treat.
Even if you’re trying to reduce the number of products you use, I think it is reasonable (and hygienic) to have separate bottles for the kitchen and bathroom. There isn’t much between this product and the kitchen cleaner, bar the choice of essential oil, which in this case is eucalyptus. However the experience of using them is quite different, although they work just as well. I don’t know if its just an effect of the eucalyptus but there is a really strong alcohol scent from this cleaner. I almost feel like I shouldn’t drive when I’ve used it! It’s fair to say that a little goes a long way with this one, and you won’t need that much to get a good clean. If strong scents aren’t your thing, then this is definitely one to avoid, but if you don’t mind a bit of oomph then this is a great product.
Despite having a dishwasher I still do a fair amount of washing-up by hand, so I’m keen to find a product that is truly safe to send down the drain and into the water system. I’ve been using EarthChoice for a long time, but I thought it was time to try something new. The lemon myrtle and mandarin scent of this is great, more subtle than your standard dish soaps, but still with enough strength to handle life in the kitchen. Overall I’d say its cleaning power is pretty good. I think that it is a little bit more temperamental than ‘standard’ dish soaps. My normal method of washing up is to dilute the soap with water in a bottle, so that instead of having to fill a big sink of water, I just use what I need directly with the sponge. One potential downside of this is that the soap will be in cold water (even if you use hot to dilute it in the first place), but I haven’t really had any problems with this. However the Koala Eco dish soap doesn’t seem to be too happy with this treatment. For want of a better word, it sort of curdles in the bottle, separating into weird little chunky bits and clear liquid. This doesn’t seem to have had any impact on how well it actually works, but it looks pretty gross. I also get the slightest feeling of greasiness when I use the soap undiluted, and that perhaps I’m having to rinse more than I would otherwise. So it definitely takes some getting used to, and I don’t think I’ve quite worked out the best way to use it yet. Perhaps if you use it in the classic way of just a bowl of hot water and a few dashes it works perfectly. But in spite of my hiccups with it, overall it still cleans well, and the fact that it’s biodegradable is a big bonus.
Back in the dim and distant past I was a big fan of Cif Stainless Steel – I used to find it very satisfying to use, getting some really satisfyingly sparkling results. However I’ve come to realise, like many of us, that we don’t actually need a different product for each separate task or surface in our homes. What you use to clean your kitchen sink will almost certainly clean your kitchen surfaces and your windows too. There may be slight variations in proportions of ingredients, but for the most part you’re just as well off using one, effective product, as you are filling your cupboards up with myriad bottles and tablets. So I resisted buying anything that specifically targeted stainless steal for a long time. Until I spotted this one on Koala Eco. On the surface the formulation of this product looks pretty similar to all their other ones, but it claims to be targeted specifically towards polishing stainless steel. I’d noticed my stainless steel sink was starting to look a little lacklustre (literally, I suppose!), so thought I’d give it a try. Having used it for a while I can confirm that it doesn’t really make that big a difference compared to their other cleaning products, but it does give my sink a slightly more polished appearance. It shines up a little better, and gives it a crisper look. It’s not a product I use everyday, but once a week or so when I’m giving the kitchen a more thorough clean I’ll break this out and go over the sink, just to keep things looking their best. If you’re not that much of a stickler and are aiming to have as few products as possible, this is one you can give a miss. If you’re a perfectionist, add it to your routine.
The formulation of this cleaner is so simple that you wonder if you could just make it yourself, with a mere four ingredients, two of which are peppermint essential oil and water. Despite this, it still works really well. There is a bit of a knack to it though – through experimentation I’ve found that you need to spray small areas at a time, and put your back into wiping it down. If you don’t, then it does get a bit streaky. Because of this I’ve found it works best on surfaces that aren’t going to be backlit – the bathroom mirror or the glass backsplash look great, but on the glass bannister I notice every tiny smear. The scent is a little on the strong side, but no where near as overpowering as the bathroom spray. It doesn’t cut through limescale, so you’ll need to just scrub for tougher areas like a shower door. But overall it does a pretty good clean, and satisfies my requirements 95% of the time.
This is probably my favourite of their products. The scent is strong without being overpowering, and while it won’t last all day, it still lingers pleasantly. I haven’t used it as a linen spray as this isn’t really something I’m in the habit of, but I use it as a room spray on a daily basis. Pink grapefruit and peppermint give it a pleasingly fresh scent, and despite having used it for so long I haven’t got bored of it. These ingredients are slightly bafflingly called out as classic Australian scents, even though I don’t think either of them are native – perhaps there’s some history there I’m missing. The 250ml bottle comes at a cost of $16.95, and has lasted me a long time. Perhaps even a year – I made my first purchase back in November 2021 and only bought another bottle towards the end of last year. If you subscribe you can get 30% off, but I don’t think I’d get through it quickly enough to require a subscription. A little spritz of the spray goes a long way. My only complaint with this product would be that they don’t seem to do a refill – so each time you buy you get a new spray top. If it would be possible to just get the bottle that would be perfect.
Value for money
Across all of the Koala Eco products I’ve used I’d say they’re all pretty good value for money. They may be slightly more expensive than your average supermarket option, but they are competitively priced for the eco-friendly market. What’s more, I’ve got a good amount of use out of all of them, with a little product going a long way. $12.95 is about their standard price for the more everyday products, for a 500ml bottle. If you opt for the subscription service, you can save 30%, but as noted above, I haven’t found myself getting through products quickly enough to require replacing them that often. This relatively low price means you’re not too worried about giving them a go either. Some eco-products are so expensive or come in such large quantities that I’m a little hesitant to invest in them, but with these convenient sizes and reasonable prices, that’s not something I worried about with Koala Eco.
Have you tried any Koala Eco products? How have you got on with them? So far I’ve really only used the cleaning products, but based on how good I’ve found them, I’m going to branch out and try the body and laundry products too. I’d love to hear your thoughts on them, or any recommendations for alternative brands I could try, so please do share them in a comment! Thanks very much for reading, and best of luck with your eco-friendly journey!