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Eco-Friendly Cleaners

Snapshot & Benefits:
Since World War II, over 75,000 different chemicals have been added to consumer products.  Of these, less than 5% are tested for environmental and human health effects (Fox News).  Many household cleaning products contain these chemicals and can, therefore, be a danger to your health if used improperly.  Their harmful chemicals enter the waste system and water supply, presenting a danger to wildlife and decreasing the air quality both in your home and around the planet.  To avoid any environmental and health dangers associated with chemical cleaners, opt for eco-friendly alternatives.  Look for products labeled with the EPA's Design for the Environment Label, the Green Seal, or other indicators of environmental friendly composition.  In addition to being friendlier for the environment, labeled products can help reduce the amount of energy used to process the chemicals often found in cleaners.  It is estimated that if every household in America swapped out a 100 oz. bottle of petroleum-based laundry detergent for one of equal size made using plant-derived products, we could save 466,000 barrels of oil, which is roughly enough to heat and cool 26,800 homes for an entire year (Seventh Generation). 

Eco-friendly cleaners are much safer for human health than standard chemical cleaners.  About 15% of all asthma cases can be traced back to exposure to unsafe cleaning products in homes.  Many household cleaners contain chemicals that are carcinogenic, contain neurotoxins that can cause liver and kidney damage, are detrimental to mammal health, and can hinder reproduction and development.  To avoid these health issues, choose eco-friendly cleaners that are made from plants or renewable resources. These organic sources are not nearly as toxic or harmful as chemically-produced solutions. 

When purchasing cleaners, look for products labeled as biodegradable, highly concentrated, and made from plants or other renewable resources.  Avoid products that contain petroleum as they are not only toxic, but represent a direct drain on our natural resources.  Use natural and reusable cleaning accessories such as mops, dust clothes, and brooms.  Look for supplies made using organic fibers instead of plastics or other non-renewable materials.  Do not keep your cleaning supplies in or near your kitchen as the gases emitted from cleaning supplies can contaminate food.  Never pour extra cleaning products down the drain.  Click here for information on how to properly dispose of excess products.  Look for detergent that does not contain chlorine or phosphate as these chemicals can be absorbed into your clothes and cause health issues.  Open windows instead of spraying an air freshener.  Opt for regular soap instead of antibacterial as they kill almost the same amount of germs, yet regular soap does not contain the environmentally harmful chemicals of antibacterial soap.

Estimated Cost Savings:
Eco-friendly cleaners are competitively priced with standard products.  They are easily accessible at local grocery stores and will cost you little to no more than regular cleaners.  Though they provide no financial incentives, choosing eco-friendly products helps minimize the threat to the environment and improve your health by minimizing the use of harmful toxins and chemicals. 

Alternative Solutions:
Instead of purchasing cleaners, consider making your own using common household items.  Baking soda, borax, liquid soaps, washing soda (sodium carbonate), white vinegar, lemon juice, cloves, lavender, grapefruit seed extract and other common kitchen ingredients can be used to make safe, effective cleaners for a variety of uses. Club soda can be used to remove light stains on carpet and fabric and a combination of cornstarch and baking soda will remove any odors.  Vinegar is a great multi-purpose cleaner that can be used in the bathroom to keep surfaces clean.  Try mixing baking soda, salt, and water to clean your carpet and oven instead of using chemical cleaners.  Click here for more recipes for safe, non-toxic cleaners that you can make yourself.

More Information on This Topic:

Five Basics for Non-Toxic Cleaning


Fox News - How Green Are Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products?


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - Household Products


EPA's Design for the Environment Label


Seventh Generation - Go Green As You Clean


Earth911 - Proper Disposal of Cleaning Products


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