A recent NY Times article discusses whether "green" cleaning products actually do the job of getting things clean; it gives opinions on both sides of the issue, but most of the quotes agree that "green" does not equal "clean".
I have to disagree (me, disagree with NYT? whatwhat?). We switched to green cleaners two years ago and have had some very good luck. Yes, there have been bombs, but lots of what we've tried has worked at least as well as traditional cleaners. And while traditional cleaners, especially bathroom and floor cleaners, tend to make me sick (dizzy, head-achy and the like), none of the green cleaners have done so.
Here is a list of what has worked and some of what hasn't. As you can tell from the comments, I'm 1/2 about how it works and 1/2 about how it smells. I know: I'm weird. I've heard that before ...
Meyer's liquid laundry soap: It works and I love the lavender scent. It's just a little pricey, that's all. I'm giving Biocleen laundry liquid a try to see if I love it as much; it was $4 cheaper this weekend at Whole Foods.
Palmolive pure and clear dishsoap: this is my favorite dishwashing liquid. It actually works. And my dishwasher has been broken for over a year, so I should know.
Greenworks liquid laundry detergent: it worked, but it it has a very strong smell. I gave it to my MIL because I hate over-powering laundry smells. Seriously: this was like generic, $5-a-huge-bottle-smelly. Yuck.
Method floor cleaner: I haven't heard my cleaning lady complain, and it has a nice scent. We've used the "squirt and mop" version as well and it worked, too.
Method glass cleaner: smells minty - yum!
Greenworks all-purpose cleaner and Greenworks bathroom cleaner: both work just as well as any others I've tried.
Method wood furniture polish: the only bad thing is you go through this pretty fast, so it's not an economy buy.
Ecover dishwashing powder: works as well as any non-green dishwashing soap I've used. At least, when I had a dishwasher that hadn't had its hoses eaten by rats. Yes, rats. They were thirsty, apparently. Don't ask for more details, please?
Ecover limescale remover: it's not Limeaway, but it works fine.
Bon Ami and castile soap: I love how this cleans the bathrooms, even if you do need to do lots of rinsing afterwards. I buy Dr. Bronner's lavender soap, and it makes the bathroom smell divine.
Simple Green: the old classic. This subs for floor cleaner, counter and bath cleaner, laundry stain remover, you name it. It's also great at cleaning the tiles around the pool (if you have one) and for washing the car. Husband hates the smell, but I always keep a bottle of it around just in case.
Murphy's Oil Soap: perfect for the wood floors. Love, love, love. And it's so gentle, you can wash the dog in it. No joke.
It Doesn't Work:
Seventh Generation dishwashing liquid: yuck is the nicest thing I can think of to say.
Method laundry detergent: we used the unscented kind, and after a few weeks the clothes were a little too smelly. Also, the packaging kept breaking, and I'd have to guesstimate how much to use since the measuring pump was dead. Not good.
Method dishsoap: the soap worked okay, but the bottle was too bulky and you couldn't stop the top from getting disgustingly gunky.
Seventh Generation dish soap: lousy, lousy, lousy. Didn't cut grease at all.
Meyer's dishsoap: I love the lemon scent, and it worked, but we went through this way too fast for the price.
Seventh Generation powdered laundry soap: I liked the lightly scented version, but every few weeks I'd find clumps of undissolved detergent in the machine. Bu-bye.
Seventh Generation liquid laundry soap: it left grease stains on our clothes: grease stains that were not there when the clothes when into the washer. Bu-bu-bye.
There are a few non-green cleaning products I still hang onto. I still use store-brand bleach when needed, and you'll pry my Clorox bleach pen and Oxyclean stain remover from my cold, dead hands. The last two are a must to keep the boys from destroying all of their clothes. And even they aren't enough: I still need to use dishsoap on greasy stains - you know, the stains you see on dark clothing when they come out of the dryer? It's the only thing that really works. Lastly, my cleaning lady would quit if I took away her Tilex Mildew Remover. The cleaning solution I hate the most (what fumes!) but she won't give it up. And I won't give her up, so I still buy it. She's been very patient with me and my green-mania, so I owe her one.
Lastly, my favorite green cleaning thing of all? Vinegar in the washing machine. I've completely eliminated dryer sheets from my shopping list, which is a greatly-desired feat for a mother of two eczema-prone children. I put a cup of vinegar in the fabric softener thingy for every load; some of this runs into the wash water and the rest is left for the rinse cycle. It works so well, and you don't smell the vinegar when the clothes are dry. No, really: I'm not lying.
A long list, I know, but give a few of these a try. Wait: I'm feeling really pompous, so I'd just like to say: try them. the environment you save just might be your own. Ooooh, wasn't that good?!? ::thickwithsarcasm::