Lysol’s Biggest Competitor Is…Vinegar?

Social media data tells us that consumers are ready for cleaning alternatives, and they’re going DIY in the meantime


If cleanliness is next to godliness, then household cleaners are under a lot of pressure.
As important as they are to consumers’ daily grime-fighting routines, household multi-purpose cleaners and disinfectants have started eliciting a caustic reaction from consumers on social media.
Studying patterns in the online conversation about cleaner brands over the past six years revealed a great deal about what concerns consumers about these daily products. Spoiler alert: it’s the chemicals.

Harsh chemicals are a common topic in the household cleaner conversation, especially in conjunction with another related topic: cleaning up after children.
When Crimson Hexagon analyzed the discussion topics in the online conversation surrounding household cleaners, we found that cleaning up after children drives most of the social chatter. Although the more prominent topics driving children-focused conversation centered on advice about disinfecting children toys and play areas, the most noteworthy of all seemed to be the desire for more alternative, natural cleaners.
In other words, the rising trend of DIY homemade solutions.

Since 2010, the total conversation about surface cleaners reached nearly 300,000 posts, led by parents discussing the safety of these products for their kids.

Caution! Keep Away From Kids

Among parents who flock to social media and forums to express their anxiety about toxic chemicals in cleaners, the conversation is lengthy and in-depth, with 61% of it taking place on forums. But out of all discussion on this topic, cleaning toys and play areas makes up a quarter of the conversation. Much of the discussion is focused on requesting and sharing advice on the best cleansing products that are also non-toxic. This continues to be a growing concern, and not just among parents. Recently, New York became the first state to pass a regulation requiring manufacturers to disclose chemical ingredients in cleaning products in an effort to reduce the amount of Perchloroethylene and other dry cleaning chemicals released into the environment.

Does Cleanliness Have to Smell Like Chemicals?

Another big complaint consumers have with cleaners is their off-putting odor. The consensus on social is that cleaners emit very unpleasant scents, so much so, that out of the 40% of conversation classified as disgust, 13% are about smell. Many find the scent of cleaners, especially those containing a strong bleach smell, to be overpowering and even nauseating. Clorox and Lysol are most commonly mentioned when people discuss unpleasant cleaner scents.

Homemade Solutions to the Rescue?

The unpleasant combination of chemicals and odor has pushed anxious parents to consider alternatives to household cleaners. The topic of natural, homemade cleaners has gained steadily in share of voice since 2013. People seek out alternative options for cleaning, and many discuss simple ingredients they’ve mixed together themselves with easily available household ingredients like vinegar and baking soda. These are preferred by parents who consider DIY solutions to be cheaper, safer and non-toxic alternatives to surface cleaners.


Homemade concoctions may never replace cleaners on supermarket shelves but rising interest in and demand for natural alternatives should signal to manufacturers that consumers are ready for a change. And they need to look no further than social media for those insights.
This post is a part of a larger series on the consumer packaged good industry. Download the report with all the related insights below.

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