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My Honest Public Goods Review - Can Their Items Replace Name Brands?

Public Goods Review

Can These Plain Packaged Household Items Replace Name Brands?

Public Goods is a membership service for household, personal care, vitamins and supplements, and grocery items. They aim to cut out the middlemen and eliminate the retail markup on quality goods by delivering products that contain “healthy ingredients with nothing to hide” straight to your door.

There are some name brand products that I used to feel were a must but in this day and age I’m learning that those don’t always guarantee quality. Since I love trying out new cleaning and beauty items I couldn’t help but be curious as to how they stacked up to some of my favorite name brands. I appreciate that they are committed to products that are as eco-friendly, ethical, and sustainable as possible, largely made in the USA.

COUPON: Use code MYSUBSCRIPTIONPGA to save 25% off your first purchase.

by Marne Orenich, MSA Reviewer, Cleaning + Personal Care Product Junkie
September 22, 2020| 17 comments

In this review, I’ll be talking about a selection of their household and personal items. To find out more about their pantry items found in their grocery section, check out my Public Goods Grocery and Pantry Staples Review.

About Public Goods

The Subscription: Public Goods

The Cost: $59.00/year for the membership

COUPON: Use code MYSUBSCRIPTIONPGA to save 25% off your first purchase.

What You Can Get: They offer a wide selection of household items, personal care, vitamins, supplements, and grocery.

Ships to: The US (free over $45 to the continental US) and Canada (free over $100)

Learn more at a glance >>

This box was sent to us at no cost for review purposes. (Check out our review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)

Pros & Cons

The Pros
  • No-frills packaging keeps things simple
  • Most products made in the USA
  • Emphasis on non-toxic, sustainable, and natural or organic products
  • Tree-free paper products
  • Cheaper quality products
  • Cruelty-free
The Cons
  • Membership required ($59/year) after free 2-week trial
  • Minimum $45 free shipping threshold
Is It Worth It?
  • I think Public Goods is an excellent choice for a lot of staple items for home and body. I liked all of the products I tried and their pricing is competitive or cheaper than similar name-brand items.
I’d Recommend Public Goods If You: 
  • Aren’t picky about brand names.
  • Like to have your staple goods delivered.
  • Prefer products free of harsh chemicals and harmful ingredients.

Why Try Public Goods?

Right now is an even better time to try a service like this, especially since they have tree-free paper products like toiler paper ($6/6 rolls) and paper towels ($6.25/2 pack) in stock (although they are limiting each to 1 pack/per order) and staple pantry foods. Most of us are limiting our time running errands out in the world and going places that aren’t necessary. While stocking up on things we need at home is a high-priority, we’re lucky to live in a time when we can do it from our laptops.

The Membership

Normally, you would be charged $59 the first time you subscribe on top of the price of the items you’re ordering which covers you for an entire year and auto-renews each year after. Right now though, you can order anything you’d like with a free 2-week trial membership which waives the fee (you can also use our code MYSUBSCRIPTIONPGA for 25% off of your first purchase). Note that you will need to cancel your trial before it’s over to avoid being charged the automatic membership fee. You do need to join to be able to purchase items in the future.

My First Public Goods Order

 

My items came in a simple cardboard box with paper packing material and inside a plastic bag to prevent leakage. There wasn’t a packing list but all of that info can be found in my account online. For this order, I concentrated on basic cleaning needs and personal care items I use every day. In an upcoming review, I’ll tackle some of the grocery items.

Household Items

 

Public Goods Surface Cleaner, 24 oz. – Retail Value $5.75

With coconut-derived active ingredients and jasmine essential oils, this surface cleaner not only gets the job done without harsh chemicals but smells delightful while doing it. My whole bathroom smells like the breeze from a fresh meadow after using this spray. The 24-ounce plastic bottle is huge and the fine spray that comes from the nozzle covers a large surface area (almost my entire bathroom sink in one spritz). Stacking up against Mrs. Meyer’s surface cleaner ($0.25/ounce), Public Goods comes in at just a hair cheaper at $0.24/ounce.

Made in the USA.

FYI: The CDC recommends cleaning and then disinfecting surfaces to help stop the spread of disease.

 

Public Goods Dish Soap, 16 oz. – Retail Value $4.25

I love it when dish soap brands make uplifting scents for their products. This liquid soap has mandarin orange and basil essential oils in it to give me a delightfully fresh scent while I scrub away at my dirty dishes. So far, this has been great and rinses so much cleaner than a bright blue dish soap with unneeded dye. It has some nice suds-ing action and the true test is spotless glasses once they dry. Even my hands feel nice after using this dish soap. Again, compared to Mrs. Meyer’s dish soap at $0.24/ounce, this one is actually a little more expensive at $0.27/ounce.

Made in the USA.

 

Public Goods Scrubber Sponge, 4 pack – Retail Value $3.00

I normally use paper towels to wipe down my bathroom sink and reserve sponges for dishes only to prevent spreading germs. However, since using bar soap again in my bathroom, it leaves quite the icky mess on my sink. I called upon one of these sponges (the rough side) and it cut through the muck quickly. While using these double-sided sponges for dishes, I noticed not only is the scrubby side is tough but the sponge side is super absorbent and squishy. I normally buy something like these green Scotch-Bright sponges which cost $0.93 ($2.79/3-pack) while the ones from Public Goods average $0.75/each.

Made in Canada.

 

Public Goods Laundry Detergent, 24 pods – Retail Value $6.95

I’m living in a post-plastic liquid detergent world these days thanks to pods like these. Each pod contains powder detergent and the wrapper dissolves in the wash to leave nothing behind. They are fragrance-free which is my preference in all laundry products and make it really easy to get my clothes cleaned no matter how big or small the load. These detergent pods are safe for high-efficiency washers as well as older models so they work for anyone. In addition to being simple, the pods are hypoallergenic and don’t contain any harmful chemicals or dyes either. When comparing the value to a natural brand like these Seventh Generation laundry pods– both come out to be $0.29/pod so it’s a wash… (ha cha cha cha).

Made in the USA.

Personal Care Items

 

Public Goods Body Wash, 12 oz. – Retail Value $4.50

Although I’ve switched to bar soap in the shower these days, I was curious to try out the body wash from Public Goods. The 12-ounce refillable bottle is uniquely made from sugarcane which makes me sigh with relief a bit and it’s made without any parabens, synthetic fragrance, sodium lauryl sulfates, phthalates nor anything from formaldehyde. I find the scent to be uplifting and refreshing from a blend of orange, geranium, cinnamon, mandarin, nutmeg, petitgrain, rosewood, celery seed, grapefruit, and vetiver essential oils without being overly fragrant. I felt clean without being dried out and it gave me a small amount of suds with the sea sponge that I also got from Public Goods (more on that later). While a body wash from the similar natural brand Mrs. Meyers is $0.49/ounce, this one is cheaper at $0.38/ounce so it delivers on the low-cost statement. You can also buy larger refill bags that end up costing $0.32/ounce which cuts down on more bottles.

Made in the USA.

 

Public Goods Witch Hazel, 12 oz. – Retail Value $5.00

I’ve never used witch hazel alone before, but it’s in a lot of the toners and natural beauty products I already use due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. I’ve been using this instead of other toners after cleansing to clear away any dirt left behind and to soothe any redness or puffiness however slight. It feels cool and will help balance my skin as well as help my skin absorb the rest of my beauty routine. It doesn’t have a strong scent at all but does contain lavender oil and is alcohol-free so it won’t dry out my face. Two thumbs up! Like the body wash, this bottle is also made of sugarcane. Compared to this witch hazel from Thayers Public Goods is less than half the cost!

Made in the USA.

 

Public Goods Foaming Facial Cleanser, 5 oz. – Retail Value $4.25

Whoa, Nelly! This facial cleanser is MINTY. I failed to see that it’s made with peppermint which I normally have no issues with but wouldn’t choose for a face wash scent. A body wash, I could see, but refreshing mint so close to my eyes seems a little bit much for me. Other than that, I think this foaming wash got all the grime off of my face well and could really help the right person wake up each morning in the shower. The foam is not super dense but a couple of pumps is adequate. As far as value goes, if you compare it to a foaming cleanser like this one from Weleda which costs $14.99- it’s less than 1/3 of the cost.

Made in the USA.

 

Public Goods Natural Deodorant, 2.5 oz. – Retail Value $4.25

So far so good on using this natural deodorant a couple of days in. The scent of this is really crisp and clean like that “clean laundry smell.” I love that it’s unisex and doesn’t have some overly complicated label or too many scents to choose from. Sometimes I just want one option to toss in my cart and be done with it, ya know? I like how solid the stick is so it’s not messy at all and doesn’t get any marks on my clothes. I can easily turn the bottom ring to dispense more product when I need it. There’s also no aluminum here so it’s not going to stain my white tees yellow either. Simple. Effective. Compared to another natural deodorant like this one from Oars + Alps which is $14.00- Public Goods is once again about 1/3 of the cost.

Made in the USA.

 

Public Goods Sea Sponge – Retail Value $5.50

Since I read a review about the small size of this sea sponge on their website, I was prepared before receiving mine. With an item like this, no two are alike and there will be variation in size and shape. I decided I’d throw in a photo of the one I got in my hand so you can see for yourself. I wasn’t disappointed really, but while using it in the shower, I did wish it were a little bit bigger. It still got the job done (and expanded a little bit more once wet) and overall I loved using it. The rope is handy to hang from my shower caddy and this sustainably harvested sea sponge is incredibly soft once wet. I can see this being perfect for giving a baby a bath or using on my face as well.

Product of Greece.

For Groceries, Pets & More

 

Public Goods has continued to grow their product selection since this review was originally published. They now include a wide variety of pantry and organic grocery products, and a new pet treats and accessories line, and have expanded their personal care line to include some pandemic related high demand products like masks and hand sanitizer. If you’re interested in learning more about those products in detail, check out our Public Goods Groceries Review and Public Goods Pet Items & Personal Care Review.

Value Comparison

Color me super impressed with how well Public Goods keeps their promise of offering low-cost items that compare to name brands. I want to point out that you can certainly find cheaper products at the dollar store but they most likely will not have the same ethical practices, sustainability, or non-toxic ingredients. For each product, I found what I thought to be a comparable item available online and Public Goods was cheaper almost every time. For someone who doesn’t care about labels, I think I’ve found an amazing place to get quality goods at a great price.

So, what’s the verdict?

I’m personally kind of OVER paying for a brand name on most things, so “generic” products from Public Goods which cares about sustainability and ingredients at a lower cost (that also work) seems like a win/win/win to me. I liked everything I tried from this order and am not missing the big names that I can find at my local big box store. I also find the simple packaging to be aesthetically pleasing and can appreciate that all of the important info is easy to find and read right on the bottle. I was skeptical in the beginning, but I’m coming around to the idea of Public Goods, even if there is a yearly membership fee. If I order products monthly, the membership fee breaks down to be under $5/month which is cheaper than any other of my monthly bills (like streaming services) and I think still makes the products cheaper in the end.


Are you a member of Public Goods? If not, would you try it?

If you’re curious about other household and personal care brands, check out our Best Household and Cleaning Subscriptions List!

Public Goods

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Written by Marne Orenich

Marne Orenich

Marne is a lipstick connoisseur, record collector, and twice over cat mom. She loves discovering new clean beauty brands and has quite the collection of beautifully packaged serums and moisturizers.

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Comments (17)

  1. I ordered 2 months ago and never received my items. I emailed a few times but did not get a response back! I spent $150 on the order and will probably never get it back. It would be nice if someone from the company can at least give me some kind of response!

  2. For those who didn’t know Fab Fit Fun has a version of this box in their shop right now that current members can purchase and customize three of the items. There are two different versions out there to buy.

  3. I tried this during the toilet paper shortage and was happy with the products. I know it’s odd, but their ketchup is thee best ever. The salsa is good and I have enjoyed the body lotion, hand soap, sanitizer, Olive oil, etc. I would love to order again, but I can’t justify the membership fees. The prices are in line with what they should be-not cheap, but not expensive. I don’t think the membership fee is providing enough value and it’s keeping me from placing another order. Lose lose for me and the company. I wish they’d rethink this.

    • I know right. The ketchup is great.
      Try their mustard – it is as good as the ketchup.

  4. DO NOT DO IT!!!!! They stole my membership fee. Ordered once and got my goods but now it’s like my account is frozen out and cannot order anything else. I tried logging in and it just does not work. I cannot log in and cannot reset my password. Nothing happens when I try reset – no email, nothing, except that now it says I tried that too many times. It’s like the company has disappeared and taken my money with it. Reading some of the other posts, it sounds like I am not the only one. Now … time to call my credit card company and dispute the charges.

    • I just ordered their products worth $60. I received immediate confirmation emails. I also emailed a question and they responded today, a Saturday. Their quick and responsiveness is very impressive. Please realize that they are a small company doing everything that we like in an ethical, environmentally conscious company and they were overwhelmed with the hoard buying of all their products and flooded with emails. They are doing the best they can under these unusual times. Please be understanding and supportive under these circumstances.

  5. I’ve been using their products for quite a few years. I love them. They repress big savings I’ve never been disappointed

  6. This company is in serious trouble. I was enthused about their products and placed an order with them 3 weeks ago….shame on me that I didn’t read the replies posted to their cheery social media posts about their awful business practices. In my case. I placed an order for items all in stock, they sent an order confirmation and they immediately charged my credit card. It is now 3 full weeks later, they have not responded to a single message (email is the only means to communicate with them) and I got another $59 unauthorized charge on my credit card as a gift from them. I have since had to file credit card dispute charges with my bank as there is no means to resolve with Public Goods staff. While they may have had good products at one point in time, the way they are doing business should be a DO NOT SHOP HERE flag for all others evaluating their products.

    • Thanks for mentioning their social media – I went to FB and saw a bunch of comments from people with the same issue. While I can understand a delay in shipping during these times, their lack of any response at all for weeks is not acceptable 🙁

    • Thank you for this review and alert.. I was about to shop there, but after reading all these reviews with the same theme, I’m shopping elsewhere. There’s enough to worry about now.

      • I just purchased and read the comments and emailed them. I received responses back immediately. They are a responsive company. The covid 19 is impacting them but other than that, they are a very good company.

      • I have never had any issues either. Takes a week to get here, but the products have been great.

  7. I ordered back on March 21st but have still not received my order. Anyone else…?

  8. Ive never heard of this company before. I have been a “Grove” member for almost 2 full yrs now & super happy with them. AND, their annual membership fee is only $20 a yr as opposed to $60 a yr. This is what gives me pause right now, especially during these “trying times” we all find ourselves in currently. I JUST recently full stocked our home with cleansers, disinfectants. Etc as well as paper products. However, with all of this being said, as long as the free trial with no membership fee due until I’ve had a chance to actually receive AND utilize the products remains intact I WILL at least try them out in the future. Oh, “Grove” & gives you a 90 day free trial before the $20 membership fee is due. Plus a bunch of free products with your 1st purchase with THEM. Just an FYI.

    • Love Grove. I’ve been able to order large 8 oz. hand sanitizers 2x so far in the past 4 weeks.

      • Me too!! And I love the 3 ply tree free bamboo toilet paper and paper towels!!

  9. I just renewed my yearly membership and am so thankful I did! After watching the news with every store out of paper goods like napkins and toilet paper it woke me up and made me realize how wasteful we can be. And I was soon thankful they have toilet paper! But yes, their products are wonderful.

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