More than fifty years ago, manufacturers tapped into a new market, chemical-based cleaners that were more convenient and efficient. Prior to that, people made their own cleaners out of natural ingredients such as vinegar, baking soda, and soaps. The new chemical-based products easily become common in most households as they were convenient and worked well. But little was known about the damage these could cause to the environment and humans. Now we’ve come full circle as many are looking to use more environmentally friendly and green household cleaning products. However, a product can claim to be green or environmentally friendly based on the company’s own standards, not on any official, scientific, or governmental standards. That’s why it’s important to read the label and understand what the bottle of cleaner states to make an informed choice in green cleaning.
Ingredients in Cleaning Products
The ingredients of green cleaning products should be easy to read and understand. Ingredients such as coconut-based cleaning agent, citric acid, essential oil, xanthan gum (a thickening agent and chemical stabilizer derived from sugars), and silicon are commonly found in these products. The ingredients should not contain chemicals with long, unpronounceable names.
You also want to look at how many ingredients are in the product. Choose products that have the fewest number of ingredients. Also, look for what’s not in the cleaning product. The best green household cleaning products that are truly environmentally friendly will not contain ingredients known to harm the environment such as phosphates, petroleum-based solvents, and bleach. You also don’t want to see artificial fragrances or ammonia, which can irritate the lungs and skin.
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Green cleaning products will often have several statements or logos touting the “greenness” of the product. The term biodegradable indicates the product breaks down easily when released into the environment. A “Design for the Environment” logo means the cleaner has been certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to have met human and environmental health safety standards. Cleaning products with this seal do not contain harmful metals, chemicals that can damage the ozone, high amounts (if any) of phosphorus, or volatile chemicals.
Take a look at the product’s packaging. The less packaging the better. Also look for products with packaging made from post-consumer waste and that you can recycle.
Finding locally made environmentally friendly cleaning products does take more effort, but by doing this you will be lessening the use of resources needed to transport the green household cleaning product to the store and then to your home. You can find where products were made by visiting the manufacturer’s website.