Method's New Pump Detergent

By Sarah Rich / Published by Dwell
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As someone who tries my hardest to purchase environmentally responsible products, I have a difficult challenge: a lot of "eco-friendly" cleaners are simply less effective than the toxic ones. Now, this is not always the case (and even when it is, it doesn't stop me from buying the green option), but it'd be nice to have the best of both worlds. Hence, my inordinate excitement over the new laundry detergent from Method. What is so genius about the new product is not so much the detergent itself but the design of the bottle, and the use of design to modify ingrained behavior.

A lot of companies have started upping the concentration of their detergents so that they can use less packaging material. Even Unilever brand products now come in smaller bottles. However, just because the bottle is smaller and the concentration higher does not mean that people will actually use less of it when doing laundry. We are all habituated to eyeballing a certain quantity of detergent, and most of us are guilty of believing that using more will result in a more thorough clean. This leads us to use up the ultra-concentrated stuff at the same rate as we'd use the normal stuff, thus negating the whole intention behind the design.

Method addresses this problem by eliminating the screw-top measuring cup design and replacing it with a pump. Four pumps from the bottle are enough for one load of laundry. The design itself leads to immediate behavior change, guaranteeing that the intention is carried out by the user. The pump is also very easy to use with one hand, if your other arm is full of clothes. I have been trying it out at home and while I'm not usually an evangelist of household cleaners, I do find the innovative design to be downright awesome. In addition, the laundry liquid is mostly plant-based and the bottle is recyclable (and made from 50% recycled plastic). It's a good product and a great example of how design can be a lever for helping well-intentioned consumers to walk their talk.

Sarah Rich


When not working in design, Sarah Rich writes, talks and forecasts about food and consumer culture.

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