Sunday, March 22, 2009

Method products?

A lot of people rave about Method cleaning products as a natural, eco-friendly alternative to your typical commercial products. When I started seeing them in the stores, however, the ingredients list looks similar to most other non-eco-friendly products.

When we first moved here, I was pleased to discover a Trader Joe's near our home--we lived pretty far from TJ's in Boston. I started buying TJ's Next to Godliness liquid hand soap, which is $3.49 for 17 fl oz. This is the ingredients list: Natural and plant derived surfectants, earth salts, lavender oil, chamomile oil, tea tree oil, grapefruit seed oil, tocopherol (vitamin E) and water. "Natural surfectants" is not defined, but otherwise everything on the list is something recognizable. This hand soap smells good, and feels good on my hands.

Trying to be more economical, however, I tried to find an eco-friendly large hand soap refill bottle at Costco (Costco's Kirkland line has many organic and natural products). They didn't have anything like that in hand soap, but I did find a Method 96 fl oz refill bottle of their sea mineral hand soap. At $6.99, I decided it was time to give Method a try.

I hated the smell! And then I checked the back. "Fragrance" (undefined) is listed on the back--a term which many, many cosmetic safety advocates say is a red flag for some of the worst chemicals in any product. And compare Method's ingredients list to Soft Soap:

Method: Water, sodium lauryl sulfate, cocamide DEA, cocamidopropyl, betane, glycerin, aloe barbadensis gel, tocopheryl acetate(vitamin E), citric acid, sodium chloride, sodium citrate, benzophemone-4, methylchlorosoththazolinome, methylisothiazolizone, fragrance, ext violet 2, blue 1.

Soft Soap: Water, sodium laureth sulfate, cocamidopropyl betane, fragrance, DMDM hydantoin, PEG-120 methyl glucose dioleate, tetrasodium EDTA, sodium sulfate, citric acid, PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate.

Did you understand either of those lists? Me either.* Note that not only does Method's ingredients list appear no more natural than Soft Soap's, but it's a much longer list of chemicals and also includes dyes. And both include the red flag, "Fragrance."

I emailed the company with my concerns, and was told that they've tested all their ingredients and none are harmful to humans, and that they can't let anyone know what "fragrance" means because that would be giving away their trade secrets.

Now, I hate wasting anything, so I have been using the Method soap. The reason I have Soft Soap in my house is because I love their 7.5 oz foaming hand cleanser bottles. You can fill them about one-quarter full with soap and the rest with water, and the foaming bottle will make adequate soap with every pump. So it allows me to really stretch my liquid soap refills. I've been refilling the Soft Soap bottles with water and Method, which doesn't smell so bad when it's mixed with so much water. And by using the Soft Soap bottles, the Method has lasted since September.

However... I still don't get how Method can claim to be more natural. Anyone else know?

* OK, that's a bit of an exaggeration. The following Method soap ingredients--glycerin, aloe barbadensis gel, tocopheryl acetate(vitamin E), citric acid, sodium chloride--are natural, and apparently the ingredients that begin with "coca" in both Method and Soft Soap are made from coconut.

FYI, check out this description of sodium laureth sulfate in Wikipedia. While the conclusion that SLS doesn't harm humans reported there may be true (I'm not knowledgable enough to say), the glowing description of SLS could only have been written by someone with a vested interest in SLS's use in the cosmetics industry. Note, too, that sodium laureth sulfate (in Soft Soap) and lauryl sulfate (in Method) are similar but not identical. According to Wikipedia, S lauryl S is the harsher of the two compounds.

UPDATE: I looked up both of these products on the Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety database. Both received a combined score of 5 (out of 10, where 0 or 1 are the safest, and 10 is the most toxic). Both were flagged strongly for "fragrance," and Soft Soap was also flagged strongly for DMDM hydantoin. So Method hand soap is really no more natural or safe than Soft Soap. It just, like many of the relaxers marketed as "natural" that I mentioned in my "No more chemicals!" post, has a few natural ingredients added to it, such as aloe.


  1. Mr Oven Cleaner are a family business thats believes in giving a great service at a fair price, which is why we always put our customers first and try to accommodate everyone individually. We always get the best results possible, put in the hard work and care each job needs, which is maybe why nearly all our customers use us time and time again.

  2. DMDM Hydantoin is related to formaldehyde.

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