Putting green cleaning products to the test: Traditional isn't necessarilybetter
If cleaning your house has you gasping for fresh air from the noxious odors, there are alternatives. A squirt of soap in a bucket of water can do the trick, but how do you know which products won’t harm your house or your body?
Many household cleaning supplies are filled with chemicals and have strong odors, making them bad for your body and the environment. If a product claims they have “green standards,” what are they talking about?
There are many factors that make a product “green,” like biodegradable packaging and not containing petroleum, but many products still claim they aren’t toxic to the environment. Organic products are not highly processed, are composed of organic ingredients including vegetables and oils, and do not use synthetic materials. How do you help yourself distinguish what is quality, affordable and actually works?
CultureMap did the leg work so you can feel good about the elbow grease you’re giving to your home.
First, a few basics and do-it-yourself tips:
- Remember to keep your windows open to let the fumes out. Especially if you have animals, give them some fresh air while you’re cleaning too.
- Baking soda and vinegar mixed with warm water is the simplest at-home cleaner that works just about anywhere. Fill a spray bottle with your mix and get to work scrubbing. Add a scent like tea tree oil or peppermint oil for a bonus clean smell.
- Skip air fresheners and boil cinnamon with cloves, or bake cookies. It will replace the smell of a cleaner in no time.
- Leave shoes by the door so you don’t bring in dirt, pollen, and dust. It also means less cleaning up if you aren’t dragging dirt through your house.
- Re-use rags and not paper towels to minimize paper waste when drying your counters or floors.
Green cleaning products:
- One popular brand is Dr. Bronner’s. Its products are certified under the USDA National Organic Program, and certified Fair Trade. To get started, try the Magic Pure Castle Classic Soaps line. Some reviews show the products are best as body, hair and hand soap, but the liquid soaps can be diluted in 18 different combinations for a variety of cleaning purposes.
- Shaklee products have been on Oprah’s Favorite Things list three times, and also featured in Real Simple magazine for its stellar performance. Its claim to green fame is that it was the first company in the world to obtain climate neutral certification, resulting in zero impact on the environment. Shaklee's H2 Organic Super Concentrated Cleaner is an all-purpose cleaner for windows, counters and literally anything. A 16 oz. bottle will also last a long time as it's recommended to dilute just two ounces with a bucket of water, or a few drops into a bottle for small surface cleaning, like a stain or scuff.
- Green Works cleaning supplies are part of the Clorox family, but this line specifically focuses on using more natural ingredients. Its products are plant and mineral based and use biodegradable ingredients. Its all-purpose cleaner is 97 percent naturally derived, with coconut as the primary ingredient. Preservatives, fragrances and dyes make up the other three percent, but Green Works' website says the company is researching ways to make the three percent natural.
- Method home cleaning is another company with green practices. The products on its website list all ingredients and an explanation of what each ingredient does. Method claims to value the health of its customers by using materials that won’t irritate skin, and the company uses natural, local and renewable ingredients. The all-purpose cleaner comes in fruity flavors like Clementine and French lavender.
Many companies are making efforts to be green. It isn’t easy (or cheap) for a company to “green” its processes, and many of these products are more expensive than the generic competition. Shaklee is only sold online or through its own distributors, but the others can be found in regular grocery stores, Target, or even Lowe's.
Just like organic fruits and vegetables, you are investing in your own health. Treat your home like your body and clean it with the right ingredients.