Going Green with Your Clean? Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products

Just how clean are your cleaning products? Traditional products contain a toxic mix of chemicals, many of which are unhealthy – and even flat-out dangerous – for people, pets, and the environment. Making a simple switch to environmentally-friendly products can have a big impact.

Why are Eco-Friendly Cleaners so Important?

The sprays, detergents, scrubs, and soaps we use to keep our homes clean are loaded with dirty ingredients, from Quarternary Ammonium Compounds (QUATS) that help breed antibiotic-resistant bacteria to 2-butoxyethanol, which can cause kidney and liver damage.

As parents and/or pet owners, we often worry about our loved ones accidentally ingesting cleaning products. We keep them out of reach or in locked cabinets to be safe. But ingesting products is just one way that cleaners can harm us. Ammonia, for instance, can worsen respiratory illnesses, like asthma, and even cause them, when inhaled. Sodium Hydroxide, found in things like oven cleaner or upholstery cleaner, can cause severe burns with skin contact (and, double trouble, breathing problems and sore throat when inhaled). *

Another issue is that these chemicals can react with one another, creating dangerous conditions. Say you are cleaning your bathroom and have a stubborn water stain on your tub. Your ammonia-based cleaning product isn’t cutting it, so you splash on some bleach. When these two chemicals mix, they create a toxic vapor that can cause chest pains, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, and even lung damage.

And remember, the damage isn’t restricted to your home. What happens when you wash the foaming, sudsy, bubbly cleaners down the drain or when volatile organic compounds evaporate? If water is not treated properly, chemicals can negatively impact fish and wildlife, and VOCs contribute to smog and poor air quality.

What Should You Look for When Choosing Green Cleaning Products?

If you look on your grocery or box store shelves, you’ll see far more “ecofriendly” options than you would have a few years ago. How do you choose the best ones for your home and family?

  • Look for “biodegradable” and “non-toxic.” What about “all-natural”? It sounds nice, and many companies use it as a primary selling point. But natural doesn’t necessarily mean safe: ammonia, for instance, is a completely natural substance – one that can cause burns and respiratory damage. At the end of the day, it’s important that the cleaners we bring into our homes are not poisonous, that they are 100% safe, and that they break down completely.
  • Read the labels. You might do this when you shop for food; now do it when you shop for cleaning products. In general, the shorter the list of ingredients, the better. Avoid anything labeled “toxic.” Be on the lookout for antibacterials, disinfectants, triclosan, 2-butoxyethanol, chlorine bleach, butyl glycol, monobutyl, ethylene glycol, petroleum solvents, and other common toxins.
  • Watch your scent. Cleaning product companies use phthalates to develop fragrances. These have caused severe side effects in lab animals. Scientists are still learning about the impact on humans, but many believe it affects hormone levels and reproductive systems. Opt for scent-free or naturally-scented products.
  • Have a trusted go-to for the tough jobs. Pet urine, blood, and other side effects of daily life can be hard to remove. Choose a reliable, safe product to have on hand when life gets messy.

Choosing green products will help you keep your home looking and smelling clean while keeping your family, pets, and the environment safe. It’s a win-win.