Cleaning is not typically a favorite home activity. Maybe that’s why it feels like an extra burden to figure out what “green cleaning” is – haven’t we already done enough? However, the cleaning products used in your home impact the indoor air quality, your health, and the environment. Making a few simple changes to the products you use means your normal routine - whether you are a strict cleaning-calendar adherent or you run through the house with a rag when company is on the way – just got greener.
We’ve listed 5 starter steps that’ll have you well on your way down the road to a people- and planet-friendly clean home.
If they won’t list the ingredients, don’t buy it
There’s no US Federal rule that requires cleaning products companies disclose their ingredients. THAT’S CRAZY! If someone can’t, or won’t, tell you exactly what’s in their bottle, put it back on the shelf. Then find a company with the good, common sense to list the ingredients on the label.
Not only on the website.
Not at some 1-800 number.
On. The. Label.
Every. Single. Ingredient.
The companies making cleaning products know what’s in them. You should, too. We list 100% of the ingredients on every product we sell because you deserve to know what’s in your home.
There are TONS of resources for ingredient information out there. Here are a couple of our favorites:
Eco-Scale: This is Whole Foods’ Market’s screening process for cleaning products. It does a great job breaking down what each ingredient does. It also shows you which ingredients aren’t allowed for each grade on their scale (red, orange, yellow, green). We’re proud all our products meet their highest standard, the “green” label.
Go here for the full list of ingredients banned at each level of the Eco-Scale seal.
MADE SAFE: Any product that’s MADE SAFE Certified has passed their screening of ingredients in their database for known harmful chemicals, as well as “bioaccumulation, persistence, and general and aquatic toxicity.” We’re one of the MADE SAFE certified brands, and they recently celebrated their 1st birthday as a source for better home products. Happy Birthday! They are extra awesome – they’ve got a HUGE list of really in-depth, technical sources they used to create their screening list.
Click here if you want to go down a regulatory rabbit hole, courtesy of madesafe.org.
Say No to "Fragrance"
If an ingredient list includes “fragrance” or “perfum(e)”, back away. These are industry terms that represent a mystery blend; the mixture can include any combination of over 3,000 different chemicals. Many fragrance chemicals have never been tested for their effect on people and the planet. Some are totally fine, but others are known to be not so people- or planet-friendly.
Sadly, for the majority of these ingredients, we have no idea if they‘re good or bad. With the current state of ingredient regulation in the USA, we may never find out. For the 6-14% of allergy sufferers that have a fragrance sensitivity, this is unacceptable.
Some claim this lack of transparency is necessary to protect “trade secrets.” However, business competitors have access to really, really cool labs that can analyze the fragrance blends. The only people left in the dark are those without such resources, which is you. We think “trade secret” is a different way to say, “If you knew what was in this product, you wouldn’t buy it.” You deserve better.
Back Off on Anti-Bacterial
The FDA has found no evidence that using triclosan makes families healthier and safer than cleaning with regular soap and water.
People- and Planet-Friendly alternative: Stick to good ol’ soap and water; wash your hands for 20 seconds (hum “Happy Birthday as you scrub your hands”) to make sure they’re good ‘n clean (if you want to know why 20 seconds is important, dive into the science here).
Buh-Bye to Bleach
Chlorine and bleach are very strong respiratory and skin irritants. In almost any case around the house, you don’t need them. Cleaning a surface and sanitizing are NOT the same, nor are they interchangeable.
People- and planet-friendlier alternatives: sodium percarbonate (aka “oxygen bleach”) and hydrogen peroxide are solid bleach replacements, however in most cases, clean is all you need. An all-purpose home cleaner, such as soap and water, is fine for wiping down counters, floors, and walls if they get dirty. Save the sanitation for when it’s really needed around raw meats and seafood, commercial/restaurant kitchens, or the home brewer in you.
Ammonia is another powerful respiratory, eye, and skin irritant. If you can’t get rid of ammonia, NEVER mix ammonia with chlorine (like toilet bowl cleaner). Ammonia reacts with the chlorine to create toxic chloramine vapor.
People- and planet-friendlier alternatives: Vinegar is a less irritating general cleaner. Rubbing Alcohol can step in as a surface disinfectant.
Wrapping It Up
If you conquer these 5 steps, you're off to a great start! There's plenty more to learn, but we've gotta start somewhere.
If you've got any questions, or want to add some facts to our research, drop us a line. We want to help you along the journey to a friendlier home and love to geek out on cleaning better!