We all know that green cleaning products are free of any chemicals that can be harmful to humans and the environment, but are those cleaning products effective without those chemicals?
Green cleaning products can absolutely be effective, but may require a little more elbow grease than conventional cleaners. Manufacturers of green cleaners continue to work on the effectiveness of their products to bring them up to par with the top-rated brands out there.
Nick Mahan is the director of formulations for Method, a popular line of green cleaners, and he understands that consumers want something green, but they also want it to work. “We’re not going to ask the consumer to make a trade-off in terms of performance results to be green,” says Mahan.
While formulations are being tweaked, products that contain bleach and chlorine can’t be matched by green products. Mahan suggests that a little extra scrubbing in these cases should get the job done just as well as a chlorine or bleach product.
Green cleaning products may not be for everyone, but if you’re considering making the switch and you are willing to pay a little extra, you should be able to get your home just as clean as you would with conventional products.
How Can We Identify Green Cleaning Products?
Many consumers want the benefits of non-toxic cleaning products but don’t want to make the products themselves. For those individuals who just want the convenience of a store-bought green cleaner, how can they be sure the cleaner is green enough?
The folks at Eco-Novice have identified some things that you should look for in green cleaning supplies. Look for cleaners with one or more of the following to ensure that you are actually using an environmentally friendly product:
1. List of Ingredients – If ingredients are not listed on the packaging, they should be easily accessible online. If a product you are using does not list its ingredients, you can consult the Household Product Database to see how toxic it could be.
2. No Fragrance – If an ingredient list includes “fragrance”, it’s a good bet it’s not green. Adding “fragrance” is a way of not disclosing individual ingredients.
3. No Toxic Chemicals – Check the ingredient list for harmful ingredients. These include NPE’s, triclosan, ammonia, chlorine bleach, DEA, TEA, hydrochloric acid, sodium hydroxide and sulfuric acid.
4. No Scary Warnings – Any product that features a “Danger” warning should probably be avoided, as there are most likely safer alternatives. “Danger: Corrosive” is often used on oven cleaners, drain cleaners and certain toilet bowl cleaners. The “Danger: Harmful or Fatal if Swallowed” warning is found on solvent-based cleaners. “Caution” is a less strong warning and even some green cleaning supplies have a “Caution” warning. If you are looking for a green product that requires no caution at all, it may be a good idea to make your own. Even then, though, some caution is required as certain ingredients should not be mixed together. Make sure you find DIY cleaner recipes from a reputable source and follow the instructions.
5. Does not require rinsing when used on food contact surfaces – If the directions on your cleaner say anything like “Clean with potable water after use on food contact surfaces”, then it is not a green cleaner. Unless you are going to be vigilant about actually rinsing the surface after cleaning, you should not use products that require it.
6. Specific, verifiable eco-friendliness claims – There are a lot of products that claim to be environmentally friendly, but that can be a meaningless claim. Look for terms like “phosphate-free”, “phthalate-free” as opposed to “non-toxic” and “90% post-consumer content” rather than “eco-friendly packaging”. When a claim is backed up by a third party, that’s even better.
7. Meaningful eco-label – There are third-party certifications for cleaners, including EPA’s Design for the Environment, EcoLogo, and Green Seal. Each one has individual certification standards, so you can decide if a product is green enough for you based on those standards.
8. Not tested on animals – a leaping bunny logo will confirm it has not been tested on animals.
9. Eco-friendly packaging – look for natural cleaning products with packaging made from recycled materials that is recyclable. Concentrated and wholesale green cleaning supplies are a good choice too because they use reduce packaging as well as transportation energy.
10. Trusted source – Find a few brands that are effective and that you trust as green, natural cleaning products and stick with them.Trusted source – Find a few brands that are effective and that you trust as green, natural cleaning products and stick with them.
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